Corona did not stop Kitl
Years ago, our graduate Jan Vokurka exchanged a prestigious job at a corporate chocolate factory for an uncertain but his own "syrup" journey. Today, after 15 years of the Kitl company's existence, syrups and food supplements from Jablonec are finding a place in an increasing number of households and shops. Jan Vokurka's plans however go further than that. He is working on the resurrection of the ramshackle area of Vratislavice mineral water.
THE COMPANY OF OUR GRADUATE STUDENT JAN VOKURKA EXPANDS AND REVIVES VRATISLAVICE MINERAL WATER
Jan Vokurka built the Kitl company literally from scratch with his diligence, skills and inventive ideas. The measure of success may for example be the fact that Kitl Raspberry Syrob is nowadays available in the Czech and Slovakian McDonald's. "Even though we have worked hard, we have also been lucky in those fifteen years, we have always made the right decisions at every crossroads," the spiritual father of the company looks back on its fifteen-year existence, which in these" infected" times celebrates success also with ginger capsules to strengthen immunity. Despite the coronavirus crisis, Kitl had a record summer. Compared to the year 2019, the company had a 21 percent increase in 2020. "We had the most successful months in our history in the summer. We broke our record in June which was immediately broken again in July. I consider it a great luck and a miracle," says Jan Vokurka. The restaurant shutdown was the reason for this. "People have syrups at home and grocery stores remain open. People also vacationed in the home land, which played into our hands. The fact that people generally care more about what they eat and drink also contributes to our growth. Although we are not the cheapest, we produce using only quality raw materials. This year's newbies - orange and lemon – have also established themselves on the market. The campaign also helped us. Media space could be bought at advantageous prices," adds Jan Vokurka, a graduate of the follow-up master's degree at the Department of Marketing, Faculty of Economics, TUL.
Indonesian ginger "enchants"
Kitl now offers 15 types of drinks. Many of them in organic quality. In addition, some products stimulate the body to cope with diseases. For example, the Spruce syrup, which helps with colds and is also suitable for children from one year of age. More and more customers also buy Eligin, an extra strong ginger extract imported from Indonesia that supports immunity. "It was created in collaboration with scientists from the Food Research Institute in Prague. Originally, we were only supposed to process it for the institute. Consequently, we got the idea to produce ginger capsules and we have already sold an incredible amount of Eligin. The feedback is wonderful. People boost immunity to stay healthy. And yet, researchers’ unwillingness to 'slice' ginger stood at the beginning of this product" laughs former Nestlé marketer Jan Vokurka.
Even McDonald´s serves raspberry soda
Kitl syrups have been a part of the McDonald‘s menu since 2015: "This has been a great schooling for us in terms of hygiene and quality process management. It is also a visible success and we are proud of it. However, in general, we are particular about the fact that we do not have a single strong partner to support us. We do not thrive or fail with one single customer."
When the company started making its first product – Nightcap, fifteen years ago, it only had one employee. Today, it has 35. However, the company is working on new projects and expansion, so it needs more space. That is why Jan Vokurka bought the ramshackle Vratislavice Mineral Water complex two years ago. He is building a modern, larger production hall and wants to increase the production capacity ten times. "I was totally depressed after the transaction. The place was overgrown, there were labels, lids, broken glass and ripped-out iron scattered everywhere. But we got to work and it has been getting better every day. Today, a modern hall is standing and we want to transfer the syrup production there," Jan Vokurka presents his plans.
The bottling of quality mineral water is likely to happen in the coming years. "It doesn't seem so, but bottling mineral water is probably just as complicated as mining coal due to various administrative tasks," Jan Vokurka comments, adding: "When the premises make enough money, even the iconic chateau will be repaired."
Jan Vokurka is still in contact with the University of Liberec. He considers himself a proud graduate. "I have a lecture at the Faculty of Economics once a year. These contacts move us forward. After all, if someone from the university wants to cooperate with us in any way, we will be happy to hear from them," says Jan Vokurka. "Some may have an idea for a new product, some for a new technology or a new process. There are no limits to the imagination and I will definitely respond to everyone," Jan Vokurka says his goodbye and disappears in the Jablonec syrup factory, former laundry, wearing a food processing coat and a protective cap.
Transcript of the article "Corona did not stop Kitl"
from the magazine of the Technical University of Liberec T-UNI in February 2021