Tomáš Baťa

Born: 3 April, 1876 in Zlín

Died: 12 July, 1932 in Otrokovice

The founder of Bata Shoe Company. His family had resided in Zlin from 17th century and the shoemaking craft was an inherited tradition. Together with his siblings Antonin and Anna they founded a shoemaking business using the funds inherited from their deceased mother in 1894 and over the course of several decades, they developed a world-renowned brand out of a small workshop. Bata was a brilliant retailer, a successful manufacturer, a businessman and a distributor, the true American embodiment of a so-called self-made man.

Together with his restless diligence, purposefulness and intuition, he managed to become a person who elevated his business to an establishment with multiple branches all over the world, expanding his shoe manufacturing in other industries contributing to the development of the shoe manufacturing itself: leather processing, mechanical engineering, rubber-making industry, chemical production, civil engineering, railway transport, polygraphy but also food industry, agriculture and forestry. The company was producing several million pairs of inexpensive shoes in 1920s; it also produced machinery, rubber products, textile products and the company branches expanded as well. Together with the immense development of the company the city flourished and expanded at the same pace, as well as its infrastructure. When T. Bata became Mayor of Zlin in 1923, the connection between the company and the city became even tighter. Besides department stores, a hospital, schools and a cinema, a large amount of houses for his workers were built by the company. Together with the acclaimed architects, Bata turned Zlin into a modern functionalist city rich in greenery.

During the years 1930-1931 some of his factories were moved to Otrokovice which seemed to be more convenient location due to an easy access to railway – later it also included the airport and shipping. A broader industrial agglomeration started to grow in the valley near Dřevnice River and Morava River. Bata’s success in business stemmed from greater involvement of his co-workers; this action was made possible by the self-management approach applied in his workshops and also in his sophisticated benefit system, where the workers were involved in both – a profit making process, but also in a loss. His credo was not only thinking how to increase the profit but also the practical business education. These ideas are outlined in his testament where he expresses his belief that every entrepreneurship which is not supposed to serve the people is destined to go extinct.