Yesterday afternoon at the age of 93 years Tomas Bata junior peacefully died in Canada. This world-known Czechoslovak entrepreneur and an owner of the world-known Bata shoe company was the son of Tomas Bata senior – the acutal founder of Bata Shoes. Tomas senior’s nickname used to be the “Henry Ford of Eastern Europe” because he “saw technology as means of progress, and wanted to make the shoes as cheaply as possible so that the greatest number of people could access them”. The Bata company itself was founded back in 1894 in a Czech town Zlin. After Tomas senior died in a tragic plane accident, his brother Jan took over the business. Under Jan’s leadership the company quickly expanded abroad to Europe, North America, Asia, and North Africa. Along with the continual expansion, the company policy was to set up new villages around the newly build factories so that the workers have places to live. Here are just some examples od those towns (the names are pretty cute):
- Batadorp in Neatherlands
- Batovany in Slovakia
- Batov (currently Bahnak) in the Czech Republic
- Bataville in France
- Batawa in Canada
- Batapur in Pakistan
- Batanagar in India
When the Nazi occupation began (1939) Bata escaped abroad from where he managed to save hundreds of Jewish families from concentration camps, sending them all over the world, well beyond Nazis’ reach. Jan also created the “necessary” Czech/Slovak infrastructure bildout plan employing about 100,000 Czechs/Slovaks and hence protecting them from being taken to the concentration camps (that is where the Nazis were taking the unemployed Czechs/Slovaks at that time).
In 1945 the company was nationalised as a part of large scale nationalisation program in Czechoslovakia, the communist government occused Bata of 66 (non-exiting) crimes, hence found the reason to confiscate all Bata properties and sentenced him to 15 years of hard labor. From then on the communists tried to brainwash people into thinking that the Bata brothers are ruthless capitalists, “exploiting workers in pursuit of higher profit”. Meanwhile Tomas Bata Jr. immigrates to Canada and moves the Bata headquarters to Toronto, Canada and decides to wait out the situation out there, until the Velvet Revolution happened in November 1989. He came back to Prague a month later and started working on the restitution posibilities. Besides re-opening a number of Bata stores accross the CR (including the biggest one on the Venceslas Square in Prague) he also founded the now very famous Bata cultural and educational foundation. And finally, in honor of all of his patriotic acitivities throughout Tomas’ life the Univeristy in Zlin was named after him.
Today the Bata company can be found in 50 countries woldwide, employs about 40,000 people and serves 1 million cusomers every day; so far the company has sold only 14 bilion pair of shoes 🙂
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bata_ShoesIf you liked this post buy me a coffee! (Suggested:$3 a latte $8 for a pound) Thanks!