Story of Our Founder

Patriot Official
Apr 19 · 3 min read

The word Patriot holds a place of honour as the meritorious name for those with a strong sense of love for their country.

The brand name Patriot was created by our founder Eric van Duyn. His numerous years spent serving the Royal Netherlands Army acted as the main source of inspiration.

“During our many exercises I often wondered why our rations were in plain ugly packaging without any branding. We were united on all fronts, except for what we consumed — something which has been shown to greatly affect the sense of camaraderie.”

In the late 1970’s during the Cold War, Eric served as a Leopard I Tank Commander of the 43rd Battalion near the East German border. However, instead of opting for a long-term professional career in the Cavalry, Eric chose to take on the challenge of becoming a fighter pilot in the Air Force. After completing officer’s school, he decided rather than remaining as a professional serving the Military, he would explore his ever-growing interest for branding and marketing. Even when still in the military, during leave, Eric was making photoshoots for brands both out of passion and to earn back his holiday expenses.

He moved to Dubai during the early 80’s as Marketing Manager for FrieslandCampina, building their line of “Coast” and “Rainbow” milk powders in the regions of COMESA and the Middle East. He travelled all around the region for the next few years. Both brands gained a lot of traction in the regions, whilst even becoming market leaders in the UAE, Saudi Arabia and Djibouti.

“Most business men in the [Africa and Middle East] region needed to see a face and get to know the character behind that face before deciding to work together. This was one of the main parts of my job: building relations.” Eric explained. “It was an exciting time and took a lot of out of the box thinking to come up with marketing ideas targeted at the diverse and fascinating unknown cultures [to me].”

In 1990, Eric seized the opportunity to join the tobacco industry working as Marketing Manager for Eastern Europe and Former CIS. He played a key role in establishing new brands from scratch in these regions, many of which remain best sellers till today. With an excellent track record, Eric became British American Tobacco’s youngest Executive Director. His crucial work in establishing BAT’s presence in the former CIS region, earned him the esteemed Marketing Excellence Award.

Once internal politics started to inadvertently become part of his job, Eric decided it was time to move on from BAT and rather focus on an opportunity to build up a privately owned factory in Georgia. As one of the Executives of Georgian Tobacco Manufacturing (GTM), Eric and his local team created a new brand called Pirveli. After a bold marketing campaign centred around local talents, Pirveli became market leader with a solid 27% market share in mid-high segment and overall 95% distribution coverage.

During the turn of the millenium Tbilisi was not inherently safe, hence Eric spent much of his time brainstorming and designing new brands in his apartment. This is how and when he came up with both Patriot and Joy.

It was not until his wife found the designs and convinced him to restart the project that this new and exciting leg of the adventure started in 2017. A venture born out of a lifelong passion for the industry and branding.

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