Do you want your company to still be here in 100 years?

In one of the basic courses for higher management we, as the participants, were asked what should be the main purpose of the enterprise. The majority of us said that the clear and obvious answer of course is profit. I, however, hesitated because my 20 years of experience with the Strojírny Podzimek company is really different. Rather than profit-based this family company is oriented on sustainable development i.e. that enterprise should  be more fun and should bring benefits and joy not only to owners, but also to employees as well as to regions where the particular facilities are seated. The purpose is simple – there should be something meaningful left behind us for the following generations. Nevertheless, my opinion was quite unique and it started an interesting discussion through the class. 

What do we do differently? If the companies would like to be part of the regional development and support it accordingly, it is important that the company is in profit and has sufficient cash flow. At the same time however, it should also be aware of the people around it - not only in the local communities, but also people around the whole world and it should be based only on the “customers relations”. 

The family companies under the branch name ‘Podzimek’ belongs also to the Strojírny Podzimek (Machinery Podzimek) whose core business is the production and delivery of the technological lines for the  aggregates and construction industries. Among other businesses under the family name Podzimek are the wood industry facilities and the P&S company responsible for the deliveries for the water and ship industry. These companies are based in the small town of Třešť (population around six thousand) which is located in the middle of the republic, next to the main highway connecting the two major cities of Prague and Brno.

The Podzimek companies cooperate with Třešť to support its long term (around 200 years) tradition of carving the wooden bethlehems.  Not only for the direct financial support, but also for support in the form of long term lease in the prestigious exhibition space in Prague (Jindřišská tower) so that the tradition could be displayed to visitors from all around the world. This exhibition space was reconstructed at the company’s expense and then it was leased to the church for fifty years at no cost. The company also actively supports the craftsmen in the bethlehems’ Woodcarving by gathering wood for them. Additionally, the whole republic project of Dancing Rooms that this company has been supporting since the very beginning and the Cihelna (Brick Factory) project (which is in the Strojírny Podzimek company) has seen nearly 2000 children attend everyday. Eventually, my classmates in the management course started to realise what I was talking about. What I have mentioned above only covers a small portion of examples that the companies support. Others include local theatres, fire brigade, young ice hockey/football players, etc. the list goes on.

What do we do differently? We live with the town. Founding the J.A. Schumpeter foundation we managed to repair the birth house of the world recognized economist and now the Třešť Information Centre is located there.  

When talking about the senior of the companies, Mr. Josef Podzimek, we also have to mention the Dunaj-Odra-Labe water corridor.  Despite the strong oppression from the so-called environmentalist this project which is more than sixty years old, is still valid. As mentioned above the profit of the company is not the primary focus. Instead, it is the public interest which is most important to the Podzimek companies. Perhaps due to this, fact Mr. Josef Podzimek was awarded the state decoration of “Merit for the economical state development” by the president of the Czech Republic.   

What we are also really good at are celebrations. All the companies anniversaries’ are celebrated with the employees, customers and citizens from all around the region. I would like to say that thanks to this course and traditions, all the Podzimek companies will celebrate 120 years anniversary next year. 

Jiří Kotrba
Strojírny Podzimek company