The Dodlek family has been involved in agricultural production for a long period of time. This production was intended solely for personal needs and for feeding the cattle. In 1961, we began the production of potatoes for the market. We have chosen one important story that shaped our family and the future of family business as the beginning of our tradition. In 1961 Franjo Dodlek started to cultivate land near Belica in Međimurje County after his grandfather Ivan lost his ability to work. Franjo was only 12 years old. His love for the fields and agricultural lifestyle was inherited from his grandfather Ivan, who was a farmer and a passionate horse lover. At first, he only had horses, a plough and a wooden chariot available. As time went by and Franjo increased his business, the first machines arrived, which easier for him to get started . The first tractor was bought in 1966. It was the first tractor in our village. Franjo was then 18, and the Steyr tractor brand was 28 years old. He bought the first potato combine harvester, a Sprint brand harvester, in 1976.
Franjo, along with his wife Marija and later with their children, daughter Božica and sons Mirjan Ivan, worked on the family farm. They have predominantly grown potatoes, but also wheat and corn. All potatoes were sold in hotels and market in Crikvenica on the Adriatic coast, and also in Celje and a couple of smaller places in Slovenia.
At the end of the 1990s, we established a trade company "TRGOVINA DODLEK" as a combination of production and trade as we, at the time, had the need for larger quantities of potatoes and other products such as onions, celery and carrots. In these years we sold potatoes mainly to the “Veletržnica Rijeka” (Wholesale market) in Kukuljanovo and the “Zelena tržnica” (Wholesale market) in Žitnjak in Zagreb. Franjo with his spouse Marija, and with the help of their grandchildren, led the production while his son Mirjan and their daughter in law Mihaela led the sales on the markets. In order to respond better to the large potato demands, we tried to increase the quality and quantity of our potatoes. The first irrigation system for agricultural purposes in Croatia was excavated in the surroundings of Belica in 1994.
With the growth of production and gaining knowledge and experience for many years of potato production, the trade company "TRGOVINA DODLEK" has been transformed into DODLEK-AGRO d.o.o. Since the beginning of the company DODLEK-AGRO d.o.o. we invested in modern technologies for soil processing, growing and extracting potatoes and other crops as well as for irrigation, proper storage and subsequent packaging and distribution. In 2004 we were the first in Croatia to own automated packing machines for potatoes with which allowed us to quickly respond to the needs of the market. In 2007 we started with the construction of the purchase-distribution center in Belica. In those years, a significant expansion of trade chains in Croatia and their sale of fresh fruit and vegetables has started. From the beginning of the company DODLEK-AGRO we have decided to sell through retail chains.
Since the start of trade we have increased our own production and we are also expanding our cooperation in this area so today, with 150 hectares of own potato production, 80 hectares of wheat and 16 hectares of onions, we have 45 subcontractors with whom we have contracted production of potatoes for fresh consumption of 500 hectares, 50 hectares of onions, 20 hectares of carrots and 20 hectares of celery.
Today we have 60 employees, three of which are agronomists who have been tasked with managing production both on our own fields and on the fields of our subcontractors, and also with the regional advisory service that monitors the complete development of agriculture in the region. They, along with our expert team, provide recommendations on crop protection and fertilization. The aforementioned agronomists monitor the condition of crops in the field daily, give recommendations to our producers on how and in what way to optimally utilize modern technology in production and control all processes of storage, preparation, packaging and delivery of goods from the packing center, all in order to achieve the best quality of our products.
Belica as a micro location has an extremely light sandy-loam soil suitable for this type of production, improved by the great care of our producers and our professional staff as well as with large investments in the latest technologies of production and irrigation. In cooperation with the profession each year we organize educational workshops for our subcontractors in order to encourage them as much as possible to introduce the latest technologies in agricultural production. Since Belica has always been known for potato production, the residents have raised a monument of the potato in the center of the village in 2007. It was the first potato monument in the world.
DODLEK-AGRO takes responsibility for the production itself and high standards of its packing center, we have the certificate of GLOBAL G.A.P. Our customers in Croatia are wholesalers of fruits and vegetables and retail chains, and for the last couple of years we have been exporting goods to the markets of Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Montenegro, Kosovo, Hungary, Macedonia, Romania, Slovenia and Serbia. DODLEK-AGRO is primarily a family business and the entire Dodlek family is involved in the companies business. Franjo and his wife Marija are today retirees advising their son Mirjan, daughter in law Mihaela and their grandchildren in production. The companies greatest wealth is commonality and trust that creates connection within the family, between employees and partners. In 2016, we opened a subsidiary in Podgorica to make it easier and better to operate on the Montenegrin market. The branch in Montenegro helps us provide our customers with quality and healthy vegetables.