Daniel J. Poisson, Owner and Chief Executive Officer
An American college student with a passion for 20th century history, Daniel J. Poisson, in his twenties, came to Eastern Europe at the time of the political changes in 1989- 1990, encouraged by friends who were doing business in what was then Czechoslovakia. This enthusiastic young man sensed an opportunity in the region and in the early nineties moved to Budapest, where he planned to start his first business with a loan of USD 30,000 from family and friends. Much of the money was gone in a month, but in 1992 he managed to close a deal to import pharmaceuticals, making a profit of USD 150,000. He soon found a wide variety of market opportu- nities: at one stage, for example, he traded air fresheners with considerable success and made significant results in the con- sumer products market. He later invested in pet food retailing, which experienced huge growth in the mid-1990s, and the company became a regional distributor of the Purina brand.
It was then that Daniel decided that he wanted to diversify—and that’s how DunaPro entered more and more areas, and over the years became Hungary’s leading distributor, dealing mainly with alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages, beauty and chemical products, household paper products and technical goods.
DunaPro’s complex portfolio consists of several elements. On the one hand, they provide strategic advice to help launch products on the Hungarian market. They provide marketing and sales advice to support the sale of clients’ products and promote their brands. Naturally, they have a strong logistics and transport business, as well as financial services for their clients, with a team of experienced experts.
The developments are mainly self-financed, but they are also in contact with several banks. The banks fully support them in achieving their goals and implementing their projects.
Their core business is the professional distribution of premium brands, covering the entire Hungarian retail network. They deal with brands that are not necessarily worth maintaining their own brand representation, warehouse base and distribution network in Hungary, but at the same time there is a demand for them; Hungarian customers expect to find their products on the shelves. They distribute several brands and around 160 products on the Hungarian market, including internation- ally renowned brands such as Bacardi, Martini, Grey Goose vodka, Patrón tequila, Bombay Gin, Huggies nappies and Kleenex household paper products. Their products are sold in 2,000 outlets, including major chains such as Auchan, Spar, Tesco, Aldi, Lidl, CBA, Coop, Metro and the biggest drugstore chains.
There is fierce competition for the distribution of big brands: on several occasions, DunaPro has won a major tender ahead of global companies such as Coca-Cola. Even after the 2008 crisis, they managed to seize several major opportunities, when global brands decided to leave the Hungarian market for financial reasons and outsourced the distribution of their products.
The personal favourites of the founder and CEO are the traditional brands that have a decades-long history on the Hungarian market, such as the versatile WU2 shampoo or the distinctive-smelling Ultra Derm hand cleanser, which can be found in almost every household. The most important feature of the product is that it removes even the strongest dirt without drying the hands. The company also plans to launch products in other countries.
With his unique management style, Daniel J. Poisson does not represent the classic CEO model, and he may also give training courses and lectures on his management philosophy. While the four heads of department have a great deal of autonomy, the founder is still intensively involved in the day-to-day running of the company after almost 30 years. For example, he regularly attends departmental meetings, where he listens and learns. His most important belief is that the opportunity to make mistakes is an opportunity to improve: mistakes should be openly acknowledged and learned from, rather than immediately corrected or covered up. He says it teaches the company’s 50 or so employees to be independent and take risks. It is no coincidence that he has several colleagues who have been working for the company for 20-25 years, and many of his management team members have two decades of DunaPro experience.