I am driven by personal engine of „not losing“
HOW IT ALL BEGAN
Production of cartonboard boxes found me by itself. At the turn of the 80s and 90s I was visited by a friend who worked in a company producing packaging. This period was characterised by the fact that there was little time. The company did not manage the satisfy demand, so a friend came up with the idea that some of the projects we could start to do by ourselves. He lived in a block of flats, I had a house, so we started making the first packaging in my pigsty. It was a primitive production, the material was shorn with scissors.
Our collaboration lasted about a year. Then our opinions and paths became separated. But at that time I handed the resignation in my official job, and so I kept part of production. To my cards played that I did not have any overhead. I made by myself, I imported by myself…
My dad advised me to not borrow one million mainly, so I took almost four
The level of production didn’t satisfy me, so I started to look around for some machines. First we bought an old shoemaking machinery from Borovina in Třebíč city and modified them for packing. But as I began to look for more demanding customers, I realised that I’ll have to find a decent machine. At that time helped me one my client who took me to Italy, where we had look on couple of machines
Then it took me about half a year before I managed to get at the bank 3.6 million for older machine. In doing so, the only advice of my father into the business was: „Do not even think about borrow of one million.” So I took a loan for less than four millions and was really afraid to tell it to my dad for the next five years.
Soon thereafter the pigsty started to be a small for production, so first I started with renting of the premises and after gradually employ more and more people. With some employees it was not so easy. But the situation has stabilised in 1997, when we got to board Jiří Trnka and Petr Vandas, who are today directors of Litobal.
The snack from the store opened our eyes and has spurred the production of bags
In one time someone brought from the store lunch in a paper bag into our establishment in Litohoř. We looked on mentioned guy and said to ourselves – why not to try it too. The truth is that I had in my mind paper shopping bags for a longer time. That’s why I was trying to raise money for the bag machine, but it went wrong. Fortunately.
So there we went to paper bag (for sandwiches, baguettes and so on). We found out for how much buys paper bags our local baker, and made basic calculations. In Germany, we managed to get used bag and printing machine. Keep them both running without any previous experience was no fun. We fought with it for almost a year. Fortunately, we could afford it thanks to profits from cardboard boxes.
Course of time we stopped to be satisfied with the rent in the middle of farm courtyard, so we moved to new headquarters in Moravské Budějovice and at the turn of the millennium we started writing the new era of Litobal. Again, we realised that if we want to be competitive in the packaging, we have to buy a better machine…
The breakthrough with bags started on show Embax 2001. It was Friday, the last day of the exhibition, and we wanted slowly leave the tent when we noticed a tiny lady with a huge suitcase, bigger than she, comes to our place. She turned out to be the director of purchasing in one of France’s most important wholesalers of packaging materials and showed interest in cooperation with our company.
After the Embax has occurred a several months of fax and telephone negotiations, which apparently went nowhere. So we decided that we will take one last attempt and we’ll go to them on a personal visit to France. After an hour of discussions we left with a contract for a trial order – one full truck (approximately 2.5 million units). It was a huge amount. Until then, the trial production was ranged between 5,000 and 10,000 units and normal production amounted to more than 50,000 units. In the land of the Gallic rooster, we finally succeeded, and order volumes have increased and increased.
Production of bags was accelerated. In 2003 we bought former supermarket in Moravské Budějovice and started to produce there. We have gained more and more customers throughout Europe. In Germany and France especially.
I am driven by personal engine of “not losing“
But in my head, there were still lain shopping paper bags. At the turn of 2009 and 2010, I literally feared of ending of subsidies, and so we could lose a good chance to the creation of our third type of industry. Still it was my longtime dream. That’s why I applied for grant and it was accepted. Story of the shopping bags production in Litobal began in September 30,2011 at the opening ceremony of a new production complex in Šebkovice.
The first shopping bag machine was imported from America and in Europe is probably the only one of its kind. Since the spring of 2015 we produce on two machines in three shifts. We would keep up more machines, but it’s a huge investment. We compete with the old family businesses across Europe, which produce on five times more machines than us. And neither these traditional companies bought all the machines overnight. So we’ll be patient, because we know that the potential for expansion of production is great here.
When I look back, I see a lot of success, but also a lot of mistakes which shifted us farther. What kept me afloat in difficult times? Probably personal engine of „lot losing“ that was probably given to me from God. Although I can lose, I don’t like to lose. It is not matter to me. It even could not be. I just set up the production of packaging, cared for the family, had commitments in banks and employed people. And for my mindset is totally unacceptable idea that I would not equal with something what I opened…