SSCC success story: Mischa Jovanovic, CEO of Aquawell production – SAINT JOHN’s water conquering the world

This April, a water factory will start operating in Kosjeric as a greenfield investment of the Swiss company Aquawell. The SAINT JOHN’S water boasts a remarkable balance of minerals, allowing the human body to absorb all the substances and make optimum use of them.

Mischa Jovanovic, CEO of Aquawell Production, talks about the company’s plans, the standards they adhere to in their operations, as well as about agriculture and food industry as Serbia’s opportunities for development, in his interview for eKapija.

The interview with Mischa Jovanovic is the fifth in the line of talks with the member-companies of the Swiss-Serbian Chamber of Commerce, through which the SSCC promotes the operations of Swiss companies in Serbia and highlights the values and good business practices of the country and these companies.

eKapija: The water factory in Kosjeric was a greenfield investment. How did you carry out the project from beginning to end?

– The realization of the project began in 2011, and everything was completed in February 2017. This means that we had needed more than 6 years before we could initiate the production. The construction of the factory took 2 years, but, in addition to the building itself, we also needed to prepare the studies, surveys, certificates, permits, strategies, marketing, sales, logistics and many other things. This took a lot of time, focus and capital. Seeing how we were a Swiss company which had not worked in Serbia until then, it was all quite new to us and we needed a lot of time to get to know how everything works in Serbia, but, in the end, we are satisfied with how it has all turned out.

eKapija: What are your plans for 2017?

– We want to start selling our product in the Serbian and Croatian market this year. Furthermore, we are negotiating with a Swiss company about making a private label product for them. Since we have all the EU and American certificates, we plan to export the water outside of Serbia as well.

eKapija: What are the company’s capacities? What does your product portfolio consist of?

– The factory’s capacity might cover 1/3 of the entire Serbian market. Our portfolio boasts a wide range of products. We offer both carbonated and non-carbonated water in PET packaging of 0.33 l to 2 l, to be sold in stores, and we also offer water in glass packaging of 0.33 l to 1 l for HoReCa.

eKapija: What are the characteristics of the water produced in Kosjeric?

– SAINT JOHN’S boasts a remarkable balance of minerals, allowing the human body to absorb all the substances and make optimum use of them. The calcium-magnesium ratio in SAINT JOHN’S is 4:1, its pH value is 7.2, the average pH value of blood, which only contributes to the balance.

This balance of minerals enables the elimination of harmful matters from the organism, making SAINT JOHN’S an ideal companion throughout the day and in all stages of life.

eKapija: Which standards are implemented in the factory in Kosjeric?

– We operate in line with ISO and HACCP standards and we have implemented the working codex from Switzerland.

eKapija: Which Swiss values do you implement in your operations?

– Our system of operations is based on Swiss principles. We have utmost respect to each worker and, in turn, all our employees respect the company and take care of it is as if it were their own home. If the company is successful, the employees are additionally stimulated bu receiving a part of the profit.

eKapija: What is your assessment of the business climate in Serbia? Where do you see the most room for improvement?

– The business climate in Serbia is at a crossroads at the moment and could go in any direction. It is important for companies to have a clean strategy and stick to it. A company needs to be flexible and find ways to increase its productivity and reach better quality so that it can export its products. The production potential is great, which needs to be used for penetrating both foreign and local markets. Serbia lacks companies which might benefit the country. There’s a lack of factories in each sector. This is why we import a lot of products and export very little.

Serbia might do better in the food industry and the agricultural sector, which are crucial to any economy’s success. The awareness of being able to enhance the quality of our goods is important for success. This is why it’s necessary for Serbia to attract as many foreign companies as possible.

eKapija: Are you planning to initiate another similar project in Serbia?

– Not at the moment. We first need to increase the production and sales in our company.

eKapija: Aside from the food and drink sector, which other fields make Serbia interesting to investors?

– Agriculture in Serbia could be the strongest in east Europe. For this to be achieved, we need modern technology, equipment and quality workforce. Ordinary agriculturists have plenty of knowledge, but they need a more up-to-date technology and they need to join forces with big companies in order to be successful.