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Tomáš Baťa

photo: Tomáš Baťa (cojeco.cz)


A Czech industrialist, the founder of the Baťa shoe company, which has establishments throughout the world today. His procedures and technology were revolutionary for his time. He introduced many new concepts in the production and sale of his products, which still serve as examples for top management.

He managed to establish the town of Zlín for his company. The Baťa Company is still one of the best known marketing brands in the Czech Republic.

Tomáš Baťa was born in Zlín on 3rd April 1876 as the sixth of twelve children to the family of a poor shoemaker. He came from a family with an extensive shoemaking tradition; his ancestors were reputedly shoemakers since the 16th century. From six years of age he worked in his father’s shoemaking shop and in 1891 when he was fifteen he left to start training in Vienna. After he returned he started working in his father workshop as a travelling salesman. On 24th August 1894, together with his siblings Anna and Antonin, he established a shoemaking company in Zlín and from the very beginning he placed emphasis on modern methods of manufacture and its management.
He planned on introducing series production and regular working hours in his company. But before one year had elapsed the company found itself on the edge of bankruptcy. Leather shoes were expensive and only a few people could afford them. The turning point came in 1897 when Baťa introduced a new type of shoe onto the market, the so-called Baťovka, in which expensive leather was replaced with inexpensive cloth. Thanks to the low price nearly everyone was able to afford these shoes. For the first time in history it was even worth it for people to buy new shoes rather than have their old ones repaired by a shoemaker. Baťovka shoes sold very well and so, in 1900, Tomáš Baťa had the first modern factory building constructed in Zlín, to which he had the most modern available shoemaking machinery delivered.

In 1904 he travelled to the USA together with several colleagues and after returning he established two-shift operation in his factory and opened a company sales department. In 1910 he employed 350 labourers and manufactured 3,400 pairs of shoes a day. In 1920 an independent advertising and marketing division was separated from his sales department, which helped promote the Baťa brand worldwide. He published promotional catalogues, company newspapers, he introduced a modern company logo, Baťa prices (ending in a nine), discounts (20% to 50%) and sales and not least he also created popularly used company slogans – for instance “Our customer, our master”.

In 1923 Tomáš Baťa became the mayor of Zlín. A year later he introduced so-called “workshop self-administration” to his company and started to build “New Zlín” for his employees – residential buildings, schools, hospitals, cultural facilities, etc.

At the beginning of the nineteen thirties Baťa enterprises made an unbelievable 100,000 pairs of shoes a day. At this time the company was transformed into a joint stock company and Baťa opened factories throughout the world: in Germany, England, Poland, Switzerland, the United States, India...

On the Twelfth of July 1932 Tomáš Baťa was flying to Switzerland in his private plane to open a new branch. However, the plane crashed and the lives of the pilot and the Czech entrepreneurial legend, who left behind an enormous company empire, ended in the wreck. At that time the Baťa Company had branches in more than 60 states.

You can find more information here.
Author: Ivana Jenerálová
Added: 17.05.2010

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