The dairy producer Rajo's production plant on the outskirts of Bratislava resembles a study in climate control. In one room the temperature stays fixed at just two degrees Celsius. Through an iron door into the next room the heat is unbearable as machines pushing yogurt and milk through different packaging stages elevate the thermometer.
Hot could be a way to describe Rajo's recent success since 1996 was the first year the company got out of the black. Rajo had a revenue of 1.1 billion Sk ($36 million) with a modest profit before taxes of 2.9 million Sk ($96,000). Production of yogurt increased 15 percent compared to 1995.
Rajo has been able to turn things around because it has expanded its distribution throughout the whole country and marketed aggressively. It has also consistently added new products to reach an expanded customer base.
For example Rajo released in June ProBio and Premium low-fat yogurts and also has popular fruit juices on the market. Rajo imports its fruit from Brazil for the juice and yogurt.
Clearly though, it is Rajo's aim to push out any foreign competition in Slovakia and to grow beyond a strong Bratislava base for the whole country.
"I believe, that if we are able to keep the quality and to strengthen our position on the market, there will come a time, when the Slovak market will not need foreign products," said Peter Albrecht, CEO at Rajo.
A key ingredient to strengthening the dairy producer's position has been a strong marketing campaign created by the ad agency Mark BBDO. Billboards, TV advertising, and newspaper ads across the country showing a drawn sketch of Adam, Eve and a snake eating Rajo products with the caption saying "do raja," which is a play on their name in Slovak meaning "to paradise," has boasted the company's name recognition.
"We just try to attract everybody," said Anna Chudíková, Rajo's marketing director.
The "hot and cold" plant built in 1980 has seen a lot of changes since the revolution. In 1992 the company was transferred from a State enterprise into Milex Slovakia a.s.. Soon after in 1993, the Austrian company Schärdinger acquired a 67 percent share in the company.
Production was immediately modernized away from ancient machines with hundreds of people managing them to modern automated technology and only 220 people working in the whole company.
17. Jul 1997 at 0:00 | Andrea Lörinczová