As a former manager in the maintenance of process equipment in Zeljezara, Dragan Turcinovic thought after retirement how to use the experience and knowledge he gained through years of work. Although he is a retired mechanical engineer, he wanted to create something recognizable that would introduce him to entrepreneurial fields. By combining the Montenegrin traditional medicine, important historical events, but also advanced technology, with the help of his wife, Venera, who is a pharmacist by profession, he created products that became recognizable not only in Montenegro but beyond. With selfless work, dedication and refinement in the field of processing and production, as well as constant improvement of technology by following modern trends, their company Tunik in its liqueurs and brandies brought together the Montenegrin tradition and modern technologies.
“We wanted to work on a joint project, but we needed a model in pharmacy for which, as a mechanical engineer, I could provide the management of the necessary parameters (pressure, temperature, vacuum …) to support the production cycle. We began to study folk recipes, with the desire to use the healing properties of plants and thus make an original drink. This is how our first product was created, the herb-brandy of srčanik, as part of traditional medicine. We first produced it for personal use and our friends and relatives. Guided by the desire to improve the same product, we began to study the literature extensively and to become acquainted with the very strict and demanding pharmaceutical and technological rules of extraction of the root of srčanik. The result is a gold medal for the Krnovski srčanik at the 86th Novi Sad Fair in May 2019.” explained Mr. Turcinovic.
The use of Montenegrin natural resources, which are our untapped wealth, is of great importance for their production, as Dragan points out: “From the very beginning our goal is to process our wild fruits and herbs by expert methods and to extract the best from it for making Montenegrin original drink. From our natural resources, we already have distinguished champions who affirm their ecological origin and have another significant parameter, like healing. We are aware that our herbs and forest fruits are our great asset and for us, they are huge potential and a chance in a thriving global market. ”
Modern technology is their priority, but also highly skilled staff that controls the quality of products. For the past year, they have focused on studying and translating literature, constantly consulting with experts in this field to make a movement on the market and create a recognizable Montenegrin brand that is in line with contemporary trends. They reconstructed and expended their old equipment with the help of the largest experts in the environment: “I participated and contributed to these successful reconstructions of process equipment, but the most significant contribution gave our technologist dr. Marko Ljekocevic. In this way, we have created the conditions for the application of modern technologies in traditional businesses such as the production of medicinal alcoholic beverages. ”
The range of their products consists of three levels of alcoholic beverages: liqueurs, herbs and brandy and all of then contain medicinal herbs related to Montenegrin folk medicine or some significant historical event: “The base of our liqueurs is noble fruit brandy, with the minimum of sugar and contain natural antioxidants, minerals, vitamins. In a word, they are structured in a way that in addition to their intense aroma and seductive taste, they also have healing properties. ”
Besides the above mentioned, there are also forest fruit liqueurs such as Zubalj Blueberry, Golija raspberry, Podbudos hawthorn, Bar orange, Herveg Novi lemon, Piva pomegranate, Kotor anise, and cinnamon, but also herbs brandies that are also part of the folk medicine of Montenegro: Krnovski srčanik, Piva liners, Niksic klekovica, Podbudoska hawthorn brandy, and herb brandy Drenjina. “I must point out that in our range we also have brandies, which are based brandies for liqueurs and herbs brandies, Grbavsko grappa and Mokronjivka apple-brandy, but we plan to make brandies from blueberries and blackberries,” Dragan added.
During the previous year, they also participated in two major fairs, in Novi Sad and at the seventh international festival of hard beverages and grandees “Spirit Fest Sarajevo”, where their potential and progress in the last year was reworded with numerous awards: “The organizers of the fairs were satisfied with our products. In Sarajevo we won ten gold medals, four silvers, and our Golija liqueur was declared the best liqueur in the class, while in Novi Sad we won seven gold medals and six silvers as well as the Silver Cup of the Fair. ”
They also exhibited their products at the VI New Year’s Fair of Local Products, organized by the Municipality of Niksic in cooperation with IPC Tehnopolis and the Tourist Organization of Niksic. “We are more than satisfied with the organization of the Fair. This time, the doors of the entire Sports Center were opened for exhibitors, which resulted in great response and participation. I think that the importance of producers in Niksic has begun to be realized, but also that farmers’ awareness of improving and investing in their products is changing. I must point out that I am very sorry only that all of these farmers have not a place where they can display their products at least once a week. ”
Although their idea was very good, they needed the help of an expert team to guide them in marketing, finances, and to be the connection to relevant addresses. Leading that idea, Dragan became the tenant of the IPC Tehnopolis Business Incubator: “The cooperation has brought me many benefits, and I have been told that I need to improve the whole process so that our products could be presented in the right way. The digital age also requires a different approach, and the Tehnopolis team always has an understanding of our needs, to give us advice and to send us to the right address. I realized there was a lot more that me and my team needed to learn and do to make our product better and display it in the best possible way. I’m very pleased and my great wish is that we continue this truly great collaboration. ”
At the moment, their products can be found in their household, but as they are also recognized throughout Montenegro and hope for numerous collaborations and an expansion of the partner network. For the next period, they are most focused on obtaining a license and rebranding, acquiring the additional necessary knowledge and using new technologies in the production process: “Obtaining a license for our range is what we seek for in the upcoming period, after which we will be focused on rebranding. We hope that with the support of Tehnopolis, we will be able to gain the necessary knowledge of web presentations and digital marketing to launch the retail of our products, but also to raise production to a higher level. ”