I recognize our liqueurs even when I’m blindfolded

Jan Metelka

An interview with Jan Metelka

He loves cars. When he was a child, he used to think he would work in car business and enjoy the scent of gasoline. The business he’s succeeded in is also filled with characteristic aromas which can sometimes be very captivating. He’s a proud bearer of the name Metelka which has been a synonym for excellent liqueurs for more than 80 years. 27-year-old Jan Metelka is the Chief Operations Officer in their family business but he sometimes operates with forklift or helps at an assembly line.

Do you remember when you tasted a liqueur or an alcoholic drink for first time?
Yes, I do. I have a nice childhood memory of it. When I was in the first grade I secretly took a hip flask that contained some Irish cream. My friend and I hid under the school desk covered with a tablecloth and we happily tasted the creamy beverage. Unfortunately, a teacher found us and we had a pretty big trouble.

When did you officially taste the liqueurs with dad’s assistance? Did your dad give you any taste training? Do you have any experience with a blind testing?
I can’t say when it happened exactly because I used to taste a tiny amount of liqueurs when I was a kid and later I drank the whole shots. I always tried to listen and feel what my dad taught me about various flavours and aromas. I do the blind testing every time I select a new semi-finished product that will be used in the production of a new beverage.

How did happen that you started to work in the factory full time? Was it a natural process or your dad had to convince you?
During my high school studies, I used to deliver goods and I spent two weeks every summer in the factory as a casual worker. I worked as a warehouseman and at every assembly line possible. I used to think I would work in car industry but over these four years I built a strong relationship to what my dad created. I just set my priorities and I felt a strong connection to our liqueur business, tradition and history. When my dad tells me the company caries our name, I realize these great values. I associate with these values and try to improve our company.

Which Metelka’s product is your favourite?
I like all of our products. I perceive them as a whole unit which must be made as a top class product with a quality design and flavour. We all work together to always achieve that.

Is there a product that you miss in your portfolio?
Frankly, I must say we consider our portfolio to be exceptional and I don’t think there’s anything missing at the moment. Our variety of products is really rich – absinthe, milk liqueurs, eggnog, liqueurs for mixed drinks… We really offer a lot. On the other hand, I realize that customers get more demanding. You must always offer something different, unique, and with top quality. Although it may sound immodest, I think our products meet these requirements.

Would you identify all Metelka products when blindfolded?
Certainly, I would. Our products are literally part of me.

I continue with the work my family has already started and I do my best to improve it. This is more important than my personal dreams.Jan metelka emphasizes.

You were allegedly charged with relocating the company from its original residence to the new hall in Vizovice. What did this task involved? Can you describe the process? Did you have to relocate any equipment?
Dad put me in charge of moving the company and it was a big challenge for me. He told me the deadlines: when moving started and when the production should have started in the new location in Vizovice. But no one told me how to do it effectively. I can drive a forklift so every morning I fully loaded a truck then drove my car to Vizovice and unloaded the truck there. I did this approximately seven times. Then, I deposited all the stuff to the new warehouse in Vizovice according to my idea of a practical use of space. The machines were moved there too but moving and installation was done by a company we hired. Moving itself wasn’t as hard as to find new employees. After a while, some of our stable and experienced employees announced that they wanted to leave because they couldn’t travel over 80 kilometres from Vyškov to Vizovice every day. To find good replacements and teach them everything that our former employees did in period of 15 years was really tough. I challenged myself and we made it successfully. The production has made a huge progress thanks to our dedication and hard work. And I must have learnt new things in a business relationship between the companies of Metelka and Rudolf Jelínek.

What are you in charge of now?
I fully work in the production and bottling section. I manage material orders, the quality control of raw materials and I deal the best prices with our suppliers. The bottling section requires the ordering of materials such as bottles, cartons, labels and bottle caps. The quality control of the final product is a priority for me. If necessary, I work as a warehouseman or a worker in bottling section. My dad has always led me to be able to work on every position in the company. My other responsibilities are making new material orders and I develop a production plan according to delivery dates of raw materials. The plan is fixed and it has to be finished in production standards which are set per day. I am therefore responsible for the complete production process from the bottling to the final product. I’m involved in securing and adapting the production line to products which haven’t been developed yet. Moreover, I’m involved in monthly inventory too.

Which activities in company do you like doing? And which ones would you prefer to leave to someone else?
Everything I do in the company I do for a reason and all the works are necessary for the company to work smoothly. Every time I hold the final product in my hand, I feel so much joy and pride. So I can say everything works fine.

Have you tried to make a liqueur according to your recipe?
So far I haven’t developed one but I hope I will do in the future.

Do you debate with your dad about the final taste of your products? Or are your professional roles strictly set? Is he in charge of the recipes and you run the business?
We debate about the new flavours but I always respect his opinion because my dad is an expert. He puts heart in everything he does, so I have no doubt that everything he creates is all right. What I think is that my dad always has the amazing ability to create a fantastic flavour and that his opinion is valid. He’s the heart of the company and every product.

Are you convinced to work in the family company forever? Have you ever had a moment you wanted to quit?
I used to have some dreams but I committed myself to the family history and tradition which started in 1934. This tradition, company and name are more important than my personal dreams. I want to choose anything. I continue in work that my family have started and I do my best to make it better.