Jan Kolański

President of the Management Board of Colian Holding

Nowadays, more and more often company managers put emphasis on the fact that their organization fits into a broader social context and undertakes initiatives related to corporate social responsibility. What does responsible leadership mean to you? 

No company operates in an economic vacuum, although each one affects its business and non-business environment. In addition, there is a feedback loop here – the environment also affects enterprises that adapt to external requirements. Under such conditions, it is impossible to act in an irresponsible manner or in a way that does not respect or even does not understand social and environmental needs. The Colian Group operates in several industries. We want to be a responsible employer, which is why we make well-thought-out decisions. Responsible leadership is awareness of the possible outcomes that result from tasks performed by the company. In addition, each business is a long-term process that develops over time, and thus requires constant building of ethical foundations that can result in a stable position of the company in the future. Without a proper understanding of this relationship, effective business development is not possible. Therefore, in our daily work, we focus our attention on compliance with legal, tax and environmental regulations. We understand the importance of pro-social activities – of the Colian Helps campaign, we support both individuals and many local and nationwide institutions and foundations. We are also aware that the company’s responsibility is the responsibility of all employees. To this end, we implement appropriate internal policies, procedures and codes, and we conduct training in compliance with them.

More and more investors and financial institutions choose as their partners those organizations that operate in accordance with ESG recommendations. Do you think that is right? How does the company you manage go beyond the so-called business as usual? What is it doing for the climate, local communities, diversity or what would you like to implement in the near future?

Reporting non-financial activities is a legal requirement that has covered the largest enterprises so far. However, we are aware that soon it will apply to all medium and large companies in Poland. Investors, banks and funds belong to the group already acting in accordance with the new rules and have their own ESG strategies, they also determine nature of cooperation with their partners meeting certain standards. I consider new regulations to be a phenomenal solution, because on one hand, they allow to organize and structure a number of indicators that are important when choosing a business partner, and on the other hand, they force companies to consciously, seriously and genuinely engage in environmental, social and corporate governance matters.

The Colian Group conducts many activities in the field of broadly understood ESG issues and does it at various levels. First of them refers to the company’s key activity, i.e. the production of sweets, drinks, spices and nuts and dried fruit. When purchasing raw materials and other necessary materials, we select only those suppliers who represent an ethical attitude and act in accordance with applicable regulations. For example, in the production of Goplana Simple Pleasures chocolates, we use cocoa from sustainable sources that support the local community and the natural environment in Africa. Currently, we are also focusing on pro-ecological activities. In the near future, we will start key investment – the construction of a photovoltaic farm at the Hellena plant in Opatówek. We focus on innovative solutions by implementing modern technology in our warehouse, which allows, for optimal use of its capacity. We develop thinking not only of our future, but also taking into consideration our achievements and the cultural heritage. The Colian Developer company deals with construction of multi-family housing estates, renovates and revitalizes historic buildings, documents and preserves great examples of Polish design and graphics once used on products of our brands. A good example of it is the Goplana housing estate in Poznań, which benefit in a smart way from the fact the chocolate factory that used to be located in this area.

Every company creates its corporate culture that embodies the values that customers see externally. Do customers prefer to choose this particular company because it does something good with which the customer identifies or is it mainly price-driven purchasing decisions? What is your opinion, what trends have you observed, is something changing in this area?

Corporate culture means that all employees of the company, including its management board, behave in accordance with certain standards. We make sure that all employees of the Colian Group companies are aware of common values and apply them when performing their daily duties – regardless of whether they are internal activities or work with external clients. Values are created for a reason – they are the foundation of a responsible approach to doing business.In the confectionery industry quality is really important and this can only be guaranteed by a trusted and responsible brand. The price is not necessarily crucial, because we buy sweets mainly for pleasure – Grześki wafers or Jeżyki cookies cannot be replaced by any cheaper product. In addition, if we have two proposals from the same product category to choose from, we will usually reach for a brand we trust and which is characterized by the right quality for us. The fact that a given brand focuses, for example, on helping hedgehogs (e.g. as the Jeżyki brand) does not influence a purchasing decision, but is only an added value to consumer’s choice. Of course, the social and environmental involvement of brands is significant, but it should not be treated as another marketing tool, because it obviously involves negative phenomena such as green or bluewashing. The essence of these activities is much deeper.

 The world needs wise and good leaders who want to have a positive impact on their environment. Was there a moment when you started to look for a deeper meaning in your work, an opportunity to do something good for your communities or country? What has been achieved?

I am and havebeen a strongpromoter of building the Made in Poland brand. Today, afteryears of hard work, manycompaniescansaythatPolish products arebeginning to be trimmed on foreignmarkets. We areevenplanningspecialmarkings of our products, strengthening the messageabouttheir country of origin, and thus the position of domesticbrands on the international arena. It isimportant to build the beliefthatwhatisPolishissimplygood. Hellena’s Oranżada alreadyuses the slogan “Grass isalwaysgreener on the otherside”.

From the verybeginning of my professionalcareer, running a business was to meanopportunity to do somethingmorethanithasbeendone. Afterall, the point is not only to producespices, sweetsordrinks, but to provideconsumers with the pleasure of consumingthemthroughthisprocess. My approach to keyprocessescarried out by Colianis much broaderthanitmightseem. Lookingatconsumerssatisfaction and the recognition ofourbrands, including the Made in Poland brand, itseems to me thattogether with the family and employees of the company, we havemanaged to build a well-functioningcompany, but aboveallanintegratedorganization, wherepeople with passion and missionworkcreatingexceptional, unique products. Thisis one of the maingoalsthat we haveachievedtogether and arestillsuccessfullyimplementing. In addition to Colian’score business, we alsotry to supportlocalcommunities in achievingtheirownplans and projects. Recently, as part of the ColianHelpscampaign, we organized a campaign for Jagoda Michalak, whosuffers from SMA. We helped the family with fundraising for the most expensivemedicine in the world. Moreover, we werevery much involved in helpingUkrainiansfindingshelter in our country. We providedthem with a temporaryaccomadationat the Hellena plant in Opatówek. Ouremployees, but also the localcommunity, werevery much involved in theseactivities. It makesus happy and givesmeaning to our actions.

Jan Kolański

Polish entrepreneur, founder, owner and chairman of the board of Colian Holding consisted of Colian, Colian Logistic and Colian Developer.
Colian is a leading company on the Polish food market, collaborating with most popular brands of Polish sweets including: Grześki, Jeżyki, Familijne, Śliwka Nałęczowska, Solidarność, Jutrzenka, AKUKU!, Hellena drinks, Appetita spices and Siesta delicacies.
To the Colian company also holds rights to British premium sweets brands: Elizabeth Shaw and Lily O’Brien’s. Colian Logistic provides warehousing services, modern transport, including specialist transport, as well as consulting and customer service.

Colian Developer is a development company operating in the housing sector and implementing investments in Poznań, Bydgoszcz and Kalisz.
Jan Kolański started the economic activity in 1990. He and his wife Barbara ran the enterprise named the Ziołopex specializing in the production and sale of spices, teas along with nuts and dried fruits.
They managed to turn their business into a large organization specializing in the production of high-quality beverages, branded confectionery and culinary accessories. Today the products are available in dozens of countries on all continents.

Last Updated on February 14, 2023 by Janusz Gil