The Managers’ Association awards Enzo Smrekar for his exceptional business results – added value per employee amounts to as much as 102 thousand euros; he is a competent and innovative leader who advocates sustainable development and is also socially responsible; he is strongly involved in sports, especially in operations of the Ski Association of Slovenia and he is a mentor to many young managers.
He started his business career at Philip Morris, then worked as a manager at Diageo – UDV, Smrekar Consulting and Droga Kolinska, and since 2010 when he successfully completed the acquisition of Droga Kolinska by Atlantic Grupa he has been the general manager at Atlantic Droga Kolinska.
Last year, the added value per employee was 102 thousand euros
The company known for products such as Argeta, Cockta, Barcaffe and Donat Mg had net sales of 166 million euros last year. This year it seems that even the Covid-19 pandemic will not have major negative impacts on business. The loss of food and beverage supply in the catering and hospitality industry was compensated for by higher sales in supermarkets. Therefore, the people kept all their jobs, the employees were not laid-off nor did the company benefit from state subsidies. The good financial status of the company is also evidenced by the fact that last year the company had a 26% return on capital and a net profit of 23.5 million euros which is 9 million or 62% more than in 2015. During this time, the company increased the number of employees to 500 or 15%. The added value per employee last year was 102 thousand euros which is 1.5 times more than the average in the food production industry and once more than the average in the Slovenian economy.
44 percent higher salaries than the industry average
The average monthly salary of an employee in Atlantic Droga Kolinska is 2,061 euros gross which is 44 percent or 632 euros more than the industry average. At the same time, employees have been receiving one of the highest holiday pays and bonuses for company performance for years. Employee commitment is improving every year – in 2015 it was 70%, last year it was 82%. The company has an established personnel development system: they create an individual career development plan for each employee and they also have a special program for young talents. Furthermore, they organise external and internal trainings, e-trainings, educate internal trainers, provide mentoring in the form of shadowing and rotations.
The company also offers the employees additional medical examinations (e.g. prostate examination for men and breast scans for women), it provides maximum ergonomic arrangement of workplaces, solidarity assistance, participation in Values Day and sports weekends, it encourages and supports artistic talent development and socially responsible activity of employees. Employee satisfaction is reflected in more than 40 sports, cultural and other clubs that the employees have set up themselves within the company. Atlantic Droga Kolinska has also been the finalist and winner of the Zlata nit award multiple times, it is an elderly-friendly company, a signatory of the Diversity Charter and a recipient of the Include.All award, due to the fact that 67 percent of managerial positions are held by women.
Smrekar’s outstanding competencies and results
Smrekar is aware that for a company to grow it is essential that people working for him are true professionals in their field of expertise. For him, empowerment, trust and respect are the essential components of employee relations. His co-workers describe him as an extremely competent, fast-learning, curious and innovative leader who stands out in achieving results. He is very successful in solving challenges while he sees obstacles only as opportunities for creative change. When compared to 40 thousand managers worldwide in 360° analysis, he proves to be more charismatic than most leaders.
He is a visionary who is constantly focused on improvement, as he is convinced that added value is created through constant innovation. All employees in the company are involved in the innovation process and the company spends 5 percent of its annual revenues on research and development. The importance of investing in innovation is also evidenced by financial data. With the new products they have introduced in the last three years the company generated for example 12.7% of the company’s revenue. They are also successful abroad - Argeta which is present in 33 markets generates 25% of revenues in these foreign markets outside the region.
Consumer orientation and marketing are the driving force of development
The international success of the company is attributed to the fact that the company stands out from the crowd, it transcends established frameworks and follows its own potential. Marketing and consumer orientation, which are the driving force of development, also played an important role in internationalisation. The whole company 'breaths' these driving forces, after all, part of the salary of each employee also consists of the so called brand power index. Development is particularly closely related to marketing. The head of development is not a technician or an engineer, but a marketing expert. He makes sure that the company develops only the products that meet the requirements and wishes of the user or market. Such mindset, planning, innovation, customer focus and excellent marketing enabled Atlantic Droga Kolinska to sell as many as 150 million Argetas in one year.
Smrekar has made huge steps with Atlantic Droga Kolinska in the last three years: they entered a new segment of spreads (vegetable spreads that respond to dietary trends) and have also entered new markets: Spain, Poland and the USA. In Izola they opened a new production line, they have a new packaging format which has increased production capacity, they have changed the recipes of all Argetas which are now without any additives, and they use BPA-NI technology in product packaging.
Sustainability intertwining economic, environmental and social aspects
Sustainability has been at the core of the company’s mission for many years and they take it as an intertwining of economic, environmental and social aspects. It opens up new business opportunities and directs innovations in accordance with the expectations of all stakeholders. Consumers who are the alpha and omega of Atlantic Droga Kolinska are the ones that mainly demand sustainable development and sustainable products. Therefore, the company is increasingly connecting with local partners, developing new products and new packaging. The company has, for example, updated the Barcaffè packaging to an environmentally friendly aluminium-free foil made from renewable plastic (sugar cane, oilseed rape). The production of this packaging produces 63% less greenhouse gases which reduces the company's carbon footprint.
Smrekar says that wider social integration is essential
Atlantic Droga Kolinska is also extremely aware of its social responsibilities. Last year, the company allocated as much as 1.24 million euros to social responsibility, mostly to sports and poverty alleviation. This year, the company donated 400 thousand euros to Republic of Slovenia to eliminate the consequences of the Covid-19 pandemic, it donated 474 tablet computers and 282 internet accesses to schoolchildren, it contributed 50 thousand euros to children in distress and donated the company’s products to hospitals and many humanitarian organisations.
Smrekar is also strongly involved in the wider social environment; he is the president of the Ski Association of Slovenia, the vice-president of the Olympic Committee of Slovenia, a member of the Marketing Council of the International Ski Organisation and a member of the Board of Directors of the Cedevita Olimpija basketball club. In addition, he is a member of the Supervisory Board of the Sports Lottery, alumni of Harvard Business School, a certified coach and mentor to many young entrepreneurs and managers in CEED, IEDC MBA, DMS and Amcham Young Professionals.
He has received numerous accolades for his achievements. Last year, for example, he was recognised with the Best European Manager – Lifetime Achievement in Business Award for Central and South-Eastern Europe, in 2018 he received the IEDC Alumni Achievement Award, and in 2017 he became the advertising personality of the year.
About the Manager of the Year Award
The Manager of the Year Award is one of the most prestigious awards in management in Slovenia. It is granted to leading Slovenian managers for their exceptional business achievements in the companies they run. Their stories are the foundation for building the reputation of management. Their ups and downs are an inspiration and encouragement to other managers on their way to be among the best.