Greetings, I am Yurii Zhukov from Ukraine. 2017 me and a technical team of very enthusiastic people founded Copperpro workshop. Since then, we produce copper distillers for extraction of essential oils and hydrosols at home.
Our main product which we were producing then was actually copper moonshine stills, which we were selling mostly on the Ukrainian market. But since the economical decline in our country, we were looking for speeding our selling geography on US and European market.
In a way it was a feeling of the market that made us switch from moonshine stills to distillers or EO extraction. I liked this change as a founder, because this area of EO is much closer to my heart than working with alcohol distillers.
Since 2019 we are working mainly with export market and delivering our copper distillers to more then 60 countries worldwide. Our biggest markets are US, Canada, Germany, Australia, UK.
Extracting essential oil at home, is it really possible?
The problem with EO is that the content of oils in the raw material like lavender, sage, rosemary and others is relatively small which is around 1%. Some flowers like rose petals and many others have much smaller content like to get 1 ml of rose EO one need to distill 5 kg of rose petals which is a lot!
One may think the extraction of essential oils at home sounds almost like a fairy tale. But with Copperpro extraction sets people all over the world find it is very much possible. Besides the average content of the EO in specific raw material yield depends a lot from the quality of the herb or flowers one is going to distill. At the same time, we are working all the time to make our distiller sets as much practical and easy to install as possible. Our clients confirm that too.
My own story what motivated you to start the business
2009 I started my business with selling Portuguese distillers called alembic. That time I was working with Ukrainian customers who were mainly interested in moonshine stills. After reaching certain point of sales, I got a dream to start production of our local product in order to support our own economics and create working places for our people.
The dream was sleeping until one day when I saw in some gift shop a souvenir type moonshine still made by some Ukrainian artisan. I found that piece nicely made and well crafted. So that was a chance and I could not miss him. I find that person who was manufacturing these souvenirs and offered him cooperation.
The financial condition of both that person and his business was very poor so my intension was also to help him, whom I find as a gifted person but not capable of developing business on the basis of his skills and knowledge.
Manufacturing is not the same as reselling
I find that crafting own product is much more noble than selling something created by other people. When one develops his own product he offers to the world his service of his creation, making something unique and useful to people around. On the other hand, it requires much more skills, knowledge, financing to start your own workshop compared to the reseller business. But it definitely worth it.
The challenge with that partner I found in 2014 was that he could not think in terms of workshop even with 5-6 employees. When I met him he was working with 2 people max and developing a new product took him around 6-9 month because he just didn’t had time for that and extra cost, though I make investment of buying some machines for him. Step by step we the variety of the products grow, but very slowly. That time these were only copper accessories for Portuguese distillers.
2015 I offered my partner to make a joint company to scale the business. I was responsible for financing the workshop and making sales, he was standing for manufacture and its development.
There was very clear message that the products we produce are mine ones and the partner may not sell those to the third parties.
After some time, I time I found he is actually selling those to third parties and after showing the proof of that to my partner we stopped working together. Withing period of our cooperation the quantity of employee in the workshop grew from 2 persons to 14 and once we split apart it declined back to 2 persons.
Despite this negative experience I find this experience very useful for me, I learned a lot about producing own product and the very fact of having own production was not so scaring for me anymore.
What is next?
2017 I met a former colleague of that unfair partner. Andrew agreed to get people and start my own work shop to produce copper distillers for our need. By that time, we stopped selling Portuguese alembics and switched fully to our domestic product. It was challenge for Andrew and the team as starting a new production facility was very new and difficult task for them as there was not such experience before. In 6-7 month after renovation, installation and preparing works we got our first products made by Copperpro team.
Having relation based on mutual trust is great strength of our company. Guys were very enthusiastic from the very beginning and ready to work with average pay in the city, or even little bit lower. On the other hand they got my full support on implementing own ideas on production which they are still appreciating a lot.
Our company culture is very different compared to what it was before, we are working a lot on making better product with less expenses to keep the price as much affordable as we only can. At the same time the pay of the colleagues in the workshop is growing and is way higher that the average in the city.
Withing 6 years of our activity we dramatically changes our main product and developed full range of distillers for essential oil extraction from 0,5 lbs. sets to 7 lbs. sets in copper and much bigger ones for commercial application.
Our company culture offers better communication withing the team, offers more opportunities to grow withing the company in professional and financial terms, this allows us to make better product for our customers and get positive feedback on the product in both ways: revenue and kind words on the product itself.
What is next? Currently we are developing new products in the area of home decoration like copper chandeliers and scones, we are also started last year of 2022 to manufacture our copper pans and we will do more of copper dish ware. So, there is huge possibilities to grow in order to become more sustainable in our unclear future. By developing new products, we can have our eggs in different baskets!
What is would share with other business people? Those are my values, how I approach life and a business as a part of it.
First of all I am very open to what life offers me as an opportunity. Opportunity to help others to close their pains. This needs some degree of the interest in the world around, which in turn requires some personal resources and to stop at least for a while to think about my own benefit and interest. But it the very end it will bring very good and juicy fruits of your work.
Constant interest in the clients’ delight with using our products made us think how we can develop it accordingly. I try to care for all my colleagues as well to offer them more then a regular job where they get money.
Life nowadays is very uncertain. Before 2014 people in Ukraine enjoyed happy and peaceful life developing our county. But mad neighbor called russia invaded our country and made all the world to think it is civil war there, which is not true. What we faced in February 2022 was the invasion of very different scale. Russians are going genocide on Ukrainians one more time. This is big pain and challenge for all Ukrainians but we are strong and will defeat the terrorists who are destroying our life. We will restore our country and build it much stronger. Why I am sharing this is to say that life can change in an instant and it is better to be not attached to much what we are enjoying now, this days. I try my best to be grateful for all I have now and let see what the day of tomorrow will bring. Caring for others will give is more support in the future to sustain all of its challenges. Let’s enjoy this moment!