Welcome 2013 and I wish a very happy & prosperous New Year to all my readers. Hope you made it safe & sound into the New Year :).
This is my first article this year and to give a great basis to this year’s Hungarian Success Stories I decided to feature a company that has been around for about 20 years and has a cult following in Hungary: it is the Cserpes Sajtműhely or in English the Cserpes Cheese Manufactory. I have already introduced you to their successful Tejivo (Milk Bar) in another article.
Looking back on the company’s 20 years old history, it is obvious that the concept and its products were doomed to succeed, it was just a question of time – and not because the company spends huge amounts of money on fancy advertising, but because of its determined, persistent and visionary founder Istvan Cserpes and his dedicated employees.
Nowadays, when consumers have a hard time finding food on the shelves that are natural and without additives, it is very liberating to know that there are entrepreneurs out there – even in the food industry – who will not compromise on quality for just a little bit more profit or bigger market share. The entire Cserpes supply chain is based on the motto ‘from the region – for the region’: it starts with buying milk from local milk suppliers and ends with the small, privately run, independent Hungarian food retailers and sales partners, as you will not find Cserpes products in the big grocery store chains – Cserpes is a different concept.
Istvan Cserpes started out its company in Kapuvar (north-west-Hungary) in 1992 in his garage with a friend that they rebuilt single-handedly into a small diary production line. I can assure you, 1992 was not the time in Hungary, when start-ups like Istvan Cserpes’ dairy business were supported – it was rather the opposite. Despite all the political and economical uncertainties his business started to take off. However, ten years later it all seemed to be almost over and the company was close to bankruptcy. This was the turning point as Istvan Cserpes repositioned his product range into the premium segment, leaving the penny fights over to other market players. With this change in strategy, he laid the foundation for a sustainable success.
Cserpes Sajtműhely is a classical example of word-of-mouth and grassroots marketing based on high quality and tasty products that Hungarian customers simply love. The success of this company is the result of Istvan Cserpes’ profound know-how and experience, his persistence as well as his confidence that customers will come back and purchase his products repeatedly, simply because they taste great! Due to his direct selling methods via ‘moving stands’ he was able to be close to his customers, to receive direct feedback and feel the pulse of the market. Although the path to success was not straight and even, and his business faced tough market conditions several times.
Cserpes Sajtműhely produces a complete range of dairy products and it also has the legendary turo rudi as Cserpes Trudi in its offering. For my readers who are not familiar with turo rudi: Turo rudi is made of hard cottage cheese, it is covered with dark chocolate and serves as a small dessert or just to nibble on something ‘in-between’. I have to be fair and mention that 99.9% of Hungarians go totally nuts for turo rudi and 99.9% of visitors do not like it much and are a bit perplexed about this turo rudi hype. I do not know the answer either why is it like that.
Cserpes products are only available in Hungary and as they come without any additives, i.e. their shelf lives are very short, the company does not plan to expand to other countries, only maybe with one or two products at a later stage. If you happen to visit Hungary, I wholeheartedly recommend to try their products. On this interactive site you can find the stores selling Cserpes products across the country.
Obviously, the market is changing very quickly and it is tough to survive, however I very much hope that young entrepreneurs will be inspired by this success story, too and we can witness, be part of and actively support similar initiatives.
For more information please visit their website (available only in Hungarian) or the following Facebook pages: Cserpes Sajtműhely, Cserpes Trudi, Cserpes Tejivo. And here you can read about the history of the company in Istvan Cserpes’ words.
Source of images: courtesy of Cserpes Sajtműhely.