The exhibition „Be the first!“ is presented in the jubilee year, when we commemorate 90 years since Tomas Bata’s last take-off and 700 years since the first written mention of the city of Zlín. The personal story of Tomas Bata, his collaborators and Bata’s philosophy; let it inspire us all that someone in our city dared to be the first. Zlín became a world-class city as a result of this bravery.
The Bata company was a pioneer in addressing personnel issues and co-worker development. It was among the first to focus on comprehensive human development, both professionally and personally.
The square Práce during the lunch break (source: SOkA Zlín, cover no. 14472, order no. 58, sign. 265_35).
The Bata company was the first in Czechoslovakia to provide free meals to workers who worked overtime. There was a ten-hour workday in 1904. This was a revolutionary approach to the workforce by the standards of the time. Overtime work was prohibited beginning in 1918.
Hosiery store in 1938, which was part of the School for Salesmen, Josef Vaňhara (source: SOkA Zlín, cover no. 5840, order no. 8)
The Bata company was allegedly the first company in Czechoslovakia to introduce an eight-hour workday. They worked from 7:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. and from 2:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. The eight-hour working time was part of Tomáš Bata’s vision of the perfect day’s structure and the 8-8-8 rule. Eight hours of sleep, eight hours of work and eight hours of rest.
The main entrance gate to the factory premises in Zlín in 1936, Josef Sudek (source: SOkA Zlín, cover no. 4331, order no. 1).
Bata was one of the first companies to implement a five-day work week. In the 1930s, working on Saturdays was commonplace. However, Tomas Bata cancelled them because he believed that a single day of recuperation was insufficient. The five-day work week was related to the five-day production schedule. According to Tomas Bata, a planning unit could consist of no more than five days; healthy competition was the basis for the concept of the production pace of the workshops.
The factory site during the May Day celebrations in 1932, Josef Vaňhara (source: SOkA Zlín, cover no. 6041, order no. 1).
Bata was the only company in Czechoslovakia where the work week started on Wednesday. The company sought to eradicate prejudices that hinder human productivity. Monday, the first day of the workweek, was regarded by many as an unpleasant day. By Friday, they were already distracted at work because their week was coming to an end, and they were thinking about the upcoming weekend.
The factory in the gardens (source: SOkA Zlín, cover no. 15063, order no. 28, sign. 830_16).
Apparently, Bata was also the only company in Czechoslovakia without a pay cap for any job position. This was mostly due to the fact that every employee at the Bata company had the option to submit an improvement proposal, for which he was eligible for a reward if his recommendation was adopted. There was no rule in the organisation that limited the amount of wages. The principle of „paying the best and most capable employees the most“ also applied.
The factory environment offered technologies and a method of internal communication that were often not used anywhere else in Czechoslovakia. At the same time, the company respected the principle that the environment shapes the person and vice versa. Therefore, a strong emphasis was placed on the cleanliness of the environment and a pleasant working climate.
In-house printing (source: SOkA Zlín, cover no. 15450, order no. 14, sign. 1244_7).
The Bata company was allegedly the only one in Europe that required the heads of individual workshops to establish libraries, constantly update them, and monitor their use.
Dining room for young women and men in the Baťa department store in 1934, Josef Vaňhara (source: SOkA Zlín, cover no. 4585, order no. 1).
The Bata company was the first company whose work regulations included the obligation to observe the drinking regime during working hours. There was even a regulation that managers were responsible for ensuring that every person in the workshop followed this regulation. If there was not enough drinking water in the workshop, fines were issued.
Graduates of the Bata School of Work attend a garden party hosted by Mrs Marie Tomasova Batova for the families of married Bata School of Work graduates. 25/08/1935, Josef Vaňhara (source: SOkA Zlín, cover no. 4585, order no. 1).
The Bata company was the first in Czechoslovakia to implement a two-hour lunch break. The goal was for workers to be able to go home for lunch with their families and do everything comfortably and without feeling rushed. At the same, it was preferable for a person to begin post-lunch digestion during the break and not be tired during the afternoon portion of the working day.
View through the company window of the Nad Ovčírnou district in 1935, Josef Vaňhara (source: SOkA Zlín, cover no. 647, order no. 1).
At the time of the first republic, there was a joke in Czechoslovakia. It was about the windows of the Bata factory that were washed so frequently, implying that the same number of washes would be sufficient to make the windows of the entire country shine. The Bata company allegedly held the lead even in this activity-the windows were washed weekly. In the entire company in 1929, there were 9,000 large windows with an average size of 3×2.5 m – i.e. 375,000 small tables.
Jan Antonín Bata speaking at an aviation day in Baťov on September 24, 1933, Josef Vaňhara (source: SOkA Zlín, cover no. 2657, order no. 1).
In 1924, Bata was the first company in Czechoslovakia to obtain a radio license to create an internal company radio station.
Meziměstská telefonní ústředna firmy Baťa v roce 1937, Josef Vaňhara (zdroj: SOkA Zlín, obálka č. 15384, poř. č. 12).
The Zlín factory site was the first factory site in Europe that had all departments and buildings completely connected by telephone. Just over 1,000 phones were connected.
In 1927, the first competition was held at the Bata firm, not for beauty, but charm. It was the first company competition in Czechoslovakia. At first, the company resisted such an activity, but eventually agreed. Their reasoning was that charm, rather than beauty, was the result of a healthy lifestyle and exercise. However, it was forbidden to measure and weigh girls. They were to be evaluated comprehensively, based on their overall personal charm.
The Bata company was one of the global technology pioneers. Tomas Bata and his disciples believed that perpetual improvement and invention were the only way to advance production. Reportedly, the Bata company ceased applying for patents on newly developed inventions in 1929. It was decided that the relevant technology would have become obsolete by the time a patent was issued.
Chemist at the Research Institute of the Bata company in 1938, Josef Vaňhara (source: SOkA Zlín, cover no. 4610, order no. 2).
On November 17, 1939, the Nazis closed all universities in the Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia, and during the subsequent arrests of professors, particularly those without work, Wichterle decided to accept the Baťa company’s offer to relocate to Zlín. On January 2, 1940, he was hired by Professor Landa, the director of the Baťa Research Institute of Chemistry. He began studying polycondensation plastics in the middle of 1940 and worked on it nonstop throughout his time in Zlín. This activity’s primary focus was polyamide research. In one of the early experiments, he created a macromolecular polyamide, a melt which could be formed into long solid strands. The outcome was polyamide silk, winop later became known as silon. Subsequently, Wichterle’s department was expanded and named the Department of New Materials.
In 1938, during a visit to hosiery companies, Josef Hlavnicka examining one of the most technologically advanced cotton-spinning machines., Josef Vaňhara (source: SOkA Zlín, cover no. 3582, order no. 1).
On November 24, 1929, America and Czechoslovakia connected for the first time via telephone. It was a direct call between Prague and New York. From the Bata office in Prague, Josef Blazek phoned Bata’s director of sales in the USA, W. Löwendhel. The search for Mr Löwendhel took 45 minutes. Nevertheless, this call marked a revolution in connecting not only the Bata Company but the whole of Czechoslovakia with America.
The exhaust system pipes on building number 31, served to maintain clean air in the workshops until 1937-1938 when the exhaust system was reconstructed in 1934, Josef Vaňhara (source: SOkA Zlín, cover no. 1732, order no. 1).
In her book Notes on Zlín, American author Granville-Geiringerova reported that the Bata firm used the biggest exhaust system in Europe to ventilate the workshops.
Zlín castle at the beginning of the century in 1902, Winkler Josef (source: SOkA Zlín, cover no. 14430, order no. 18).
In the spring of 1930, during Bata’s tenure as mayor of Zlín, a bulldozer was used for the first time in the country, to demolish the enclosure wall surrounding the local castle.
The latest logging technology in use around the globe attracted the Bata company. It funded the initial investigation on the semi-automation of the timber harvest. It was, in fact, the forestry equivalent of strip manufacturing concepts. For felling and chopping wood, tillers, circular saws, and uprooters were all powered by gasoline. As a result, logging was accelerated by up to 40 times.
The innovative mindset of the Bata company was not restricted to the factory premises alone. The company’s efforts to make life more efficient at the workplace extended beyond the factory’s walls.
Building of the Great Cinema (source: SOka Zlín, cover no. 4902, order no. 4).
According to the cinema’s designer, the renowned Zlín architect František Lýdia Gahura, this building was to be dismantled, relocated, and completed within a few years in order to seal the southern entrance to Práce Square. Engineer Vtelensky created a welded steel lattice construction without auxiliary beams for the first time in Czechoslovakia, considering the required maximum span of 33 metres and ease of dismantling. The large movie theatre featured a total of 2,264 permanent seats. It grew to be the largest theatre in the nation and Central Europe. The square-shaped building with a north-south axis had a ceiling height of 10 to 12 metres and a total area of 2,110 square metres.
Masaryk Square in 1934, Josef Vaňhara (SOkA Zlín, cover no. 759, ex. no. 1).
Bata was the first company to start marking chicken eggs on its farm. Each was marked with the origin as well as date it was laid.
Between 1923 and 1937, the network of water pipes expanded from 1,870 metres to 59,811 metres. Zlín became the city with the densest network of newly built water supply network in Czechoslovakia.
Tomas Bata’s classroom as seen from the intersection near the Comenius School towards Práce Square in 1934, Stefan (source: SOkA Zlín, cover no. 6178, order no. 3).
The Bata company was the first in Europe to totally assume responsibility for street cleaning and municipal adornment at its own expense. It used 36 cleaning trucks, 22 irrigation trucks, and over 2,000 trash cans in the public area. It also employed 168 individuals who would have had a difficult time finding work in the labour market.
Construction of the former factory building number 8 in 1924, Řehák (source: SOkA Zlín, cover no. 997, order no. 2).
Following the lead of American businesses, the Bata firm was the first in Czechoslovakia to supply milk in paper boxes to Zlín households. Since 1927, the company’s dairy has been pasteurising milk.
Tomas Bata was renowned for his obsession with reducing time, which he then could use substantially more effectively and efficiently. To shorten the time, he employed as many of the available modern technologies as possible. It is worth noting that due to this fact, aviation was the only subsidised field in the Bata company- it considerably shortened journeys and, as a result, extended a person’s life.
Škoda trucks intended for the transport of construction materials in 1933, Josef Vaňhara (source: SOkA Zlín, cover no. 936, order no. 1).
In January 1929, Zlín saw the completion of one of the world’s largest multi-story vehicle garages. It could accommodate 200 vehicles. In this manner, the Baťa firm responded to the increasing number of automobiles owned by its employees. An intriguing statistic is that Zlín had the most vehicles per capita in Czechoslovakia.
The first sleeper bus in Europe, which in 1932 was tested between Prague and Zlín, Josef Vaňhara (source: SOkA Zlín, cover no. 1993, order no. 1).
The Bata firm was the first in Czechoslovakia to develop exclusively children’s school bus transportation. Children in Zlín and the surrounding villages were transported to school by buses with originally colourful design equipped with child seats. In short, these buses were theirs alone.
Cableway guaranteed undisturbed transport of material to ready-made workshops in 1933, Josef Vaňhara (source: SOkA Zlín, cover no. 939, order no. 1).
Obligation to use internal transport system The Bata company was allegedly the only one in Europe to have enacted a policy requiring employees to preferentially use all available modes of transportation in the factory area over walking. This included the requirement to use moving walkways, sliding belts, vehicles that passed through the factory premises on a regular basis, elevators, and bicycles. Every necessary transfer in the factory area was to be completed as quickly as possible during working hours. Walking in the fresh air, which was regarded as one of the best ways to relax, was to be done only after work, i.e., in their spare time.
Maritime transport – Bata’s ship „Kouroussa“, which was renamed „Morava“ shortly after the purchase (source: SOkA Zlín, sbirka_fotografii_Zlín, cover c. 4793, por. c. 3)
The Bata concern was also involved in the maritime business. During the economic crisis, he purchased a large amount of rubber in Malaya and, in order to ensure its transportation as cheaply as possible, he purchased a ship named Kouroussa from a French shipping company in 1932. Originally a 3,436 GRT steamship, it was renamed Morava and sold again in 1933. Another Bata ship, the Mona (461 GRT), transported hides from Hamburg to Gdynia and was later renamed Little Evy. It was a ship manned entirely by Czechoslovaks. It was decommissioned in 1934 after a collision in the Kiel Canal and sold to France a year later. During the Great Depression, the Little Eve ship effectively ended the business of our seagoing ships on the world’s seas and oceans.
The Bata company was the only Czechoslovak company that worked on transportation solutions for the entire country. This concept was first proposed by Tomas Bata in the years 1928 to 1929, when he proposed significant financial investments to improve road transport. Bohuslav Fuchs designed the Czechoslovak highway, which Hugo Vavrecka vigorously promoted in January 1935. Jan Antonín Bata also endorsed the project in 1937. As a result of the Munich decree, the Czechoslovak army began implementation in autumn 1938. Minister Dominik Cipera pushed for the start of ground works in early 1939. The construction of the Prague-Brno section began in May 1939 but was halted by the Second World War. To this day, several concrete viaducts from this unfinished project can be seen in the Zlín region.
The Dragon aircraft of the Bata company (source: SOkA Zlín, cover no. 15466, order no. 18, sign 1260_9)
The Bata company was the first in Czechoslovakia to offer air taxis to public as well as its employees. The Zlín air taxi fare was CZK 2 for one kilometre in a two-seater plane, with an additional CZK 1 per person per kilometre for each additional seat.
Zlín XIII in a single-seater configuration, Jan Ambrus sits in the cockpit. (source: archive of ZLÍN AIRCRAFT a.s.)
Despite its lower engine power, the Zlín XII was the fastest aircraft in its category in Czechoslovakia, thanks to the Zlín designers. It could reach speeds of up to 350 kilometres per hour.
The Bata company was a world leader in the field of production. This was primarily due to the fact that the company manufactured the majority of the machines itself, allowing it to push the technological boundaries of the time based on everyday practice that was in turn supported by a scientific approach. It was no different in the field of export; after all, the world once thought „Batovec“ was a nationality.
The Bata company was regarded as one of the world’s rarities, having grown into 36 independent and non-subsidized branches. Aviation was the only field that was subsidised.
In 1930, for the first time, the Bata company manufactured 100,000 pairs of shoes in a single day, At that time, it was the world’s fastest production rate for this type of product.
The Bata firm began cultivating rubber trees in the 42nd building with the intention of teaching employees how to extract latex prior to their departure for rubber plantations in exotic countries. However, because the rubber tree is only suitable for pumping latex after ten years, it needed to be artificially drilled and filled with rubber. All the same, the young men had a unique opportunity to try the so-called latex taping before going abroad.
Shoe workshop in 1919, Machacek (source: SOkA Zlín, cover no. 1495, order no. 2).
The Bata company was the first in our country to implement strip production based on the principles of the Ford Motor Company in Detroit. Labour productivity increased by 58%.
Utilizing the space of the Department Store to announce the Bata company’s export plans for the year 1937, Josef Vaňhara (source: SOkA Zlín, cover no. 6030, order no. 61).
As a result of the production of the Bata company, Czechoslovakia became the largest footwear exporter in the world in 1928.
Public disclosure of the manufacturing ambitions of the Baťa company (source: SOka Zlín, cover No. 14924, sign. 718_17, dir. No. 22).
In 1935, the Zlín plant utilised more than 24,000 electric motors for everyday operations. This was the greatest number of industrial electric motors deployed in Central Europe.
The Slovak city of Baťovany, general view (source: KGVU in Zlín)
High export duties, proximity to the consumer, the ability to respond to any changes, and market adaptability. There were no parallels in the globe for rationalisation, classification, and unification. Tomas Bata and František Lýdie Gahura began designing and constructing new industrial and garden cities between 1930 and 1931, for example Otrokovice – Baťov (Czech Republic), Borovo (then Yugoslavia), Ottmuth (Germany), Chelmek (Poland), Möhlin (Switzerland), Hellocourt (France), etc. „The company’s nearly ten years of experience in planning industrial cities was finally compiled in the manual Industrial City (1939). „According to this theory, it was conceivable to construct an entirely new city anywhere in the world, which is precisely what occurred.
The 21st building’s reinforced concrete structure in 1937 (source: SOkA Zlín, cover no. 5985, order number. 1).
In the article entitled „Interior equipment of the administration building of our factories“, published in the magazine Zlín, architect Vladimir Karfík stated: „The total height of the building from the bottom of the 1st floor is 77.5 m, making it the tallest building in all of Europe, and among European „skyscrapers“, it surpasses the building of the Antwerp bank by only a few metres, which has a steel frame.“ At the time, the building featured several significant technological advances, including air conditioning, piped mail, IBM computers, a Siemens telephone exchange, and open offices. The well-known mobile director’s office included a sink with hot and cold water, a desk, and a telephone.
Construction of the 21st building in 1937, Josef Vaňhara (source: SOkA Zlín, cover no. 1745, order no. 1).
According to the press of the time, Bata was the only company in Czechoslovakia that built 1:1 scale wooden skeletons prior to the construction of significant structures so that all technical elements could be refined. This construction took place in the factory area in front of the archive building. Partial portions of structures, as well as full floors of planned developments, such as the Service Department Store on Wenceslas Square in Prague, Brno, and Liberec, were created. However, similar machine models were also used.
Tomas Bata with construction department colleagues after the completion of the reinforced concrete frame of warehouse building number 36 in 1929, Cink (source: SOkA Zlín, cover no. 2023, order no. 2).
The four-story skyscraper was constructed in 28 days. Prior to the completion of the last story, the first floor had already begun production, making it possible to pay for the entire construction of the building from the yield.
Demolition of the old building in the square, Josef Vaňhara (source: SOkA Zlín, cover no. 758, order no. 1).
Zlín was presented as the European city with the greatest number of privately constructed dwellings, streets, and neighbourhoods. The number of houses constructed by Bata increased to 2,200.
Additionally, the Bata company introduced pioneering assets in social and medical care. It thus followed on Tomas Bata’s theory is that happiness and well-being in one’s personal life are fundamental preconditions for lasting success in the workplace. At the same time, the corporation was acutely aware that it had to take a proactive stance on numerous social concerns and not rely on state-level solutions.
A group of patients from the Bata Hospital’s trauma centre in the building of the Social Health Institute on the square Práce in 1936, Josef Vaňhara (source: SOkA Zlín, cover no. 5367, order no. 2).
The Bata company was the first in our country to require all of its employees to visit a psychologist every six months. The objective was to prevent „job disgust,“ as burnout syndrome was referred to at the time.
Children’s ward of Baťa Hospital in 1936, Josef Vaňhara (source: SOkA Zlín, cover no. 5356, order no. 1).
The Bata company launched the first-ever foot deodorant. It was sold in three forms based on customer preferences: solid, loose, and liquid. Herbal extracts, primarily mint and lavender, were the primary components.
Bata’s hospital in 1936, Josef Vaňhara (source: SOkA Zlín, cover no. 5343, order no. 1).
Bata’s hospital was the most modern hospital in Europe, which was built by a private entity.
Entrance building to the hospital complex in 1936, Josef Vaňhara (source: SOkA Zlín, cover no. 5348, order no. 2).
The Bata company was the only one on record to pay its employees sick leave at the full amount of their average annual salary. It should be noted, however, that the funding came from a co-worker’s savings, as the company required double social, health, and pension insurance payments.
Pedicure at a shop in Uherské Hradiste in 1941 (source: SOkA Zlín, cover no. 15446, sign. 1240_5, order no. 10).
From 1930 to 1934, the Bata company conducted the most extensive research in the world on pedicures, foot defects, diseases, and foot care. It is believed that over 40,000,000 people participated in the study, a number that has not yet been surpassed.
Bata was the first company in Czechoslovakia to implement an initiative to increase the employability of individuals with disabilities. They were first admitted to the company in August 1926, and their number increased to a total of 185 individuals with various disabilities the following year.
Bata was the first company in Czechoslovakia to implement mandatory semi-annual health examinations. If a worker missed a check-up, he was fined up to CZK 50 per day for each day of delay (the average weekly wage of a worker was around CZK 600). If the delay lasted longer than a week, the fine was also the responsibility of the worker’s manager. If the delay lasted longer than two weeks, the employee may have been prohibited from entering the factory.
At the insistence of Dominik Cipera and Tomas Bata, the Bata company introduced double social, health, and pension insurance payments. Tomas Bata stated as early as 1929 that the Czechoslovak state would not be able to pay such a large amount of pensions or social and health support in order to maintain the population’s productive standard of living. In addition to the state-mandated amount of insurance, Bata employees were required to pay for internal insurance to ensure quality health care, social contributions, and the necessary retirement security.
Tomas Bata viewed education as one of the most essential means for lifting a society out of poverty. He envisioned an education that produces fully formed individuals. The Bata company established dozens of schools, spanning all levels and sectors of education required by society, from kindergarten to lifelong education.
Tomas Bata was always interested in whether the teaching was practical and connected to real-world experiences when he attended classes (source: SOkA Zlín, cover no. 139, order no. 2).
The company Bata was the first private entity in Czechoslovakia to establish a driving school. It was initially only permitted to offer courses to its own employees, but due to high demand, the offer was expanded within a year to include courses for the general public. Zlín also had the highest concentration of female drivers. Nationally, the ratio of men to women drivers was 1:214, but in Zlín, the ratio was 1:52, meaning there were 52 male drivers for every female driver.
Bata’s work school for young men: a group of young Egyptians in 1933, Josef Vaňhara (source: SOkA Zlín, cover no. 4449, order no. 2)
Bata was the first company in Czechoslovakia to offer courses for couples. It was common for husbands and wives to attend courses on „marital communication,“ „how to spend time together to the fullest,“ and „how to raise children“ because it was believed that a fulfilled personal life is a prerequisite for a successful professional life.
Teaching of geography at Masaryk schools in 1932, Řehák (source: SOkA Zlín, cover no. 1134, order no. 1).
Tomas Bata’s decision mandated that beginning in 1932, every employee, regardless of the length of service, age, or position, must take every six months communication and psychology course. In previous years, this only applied to executives and salespeople. However, when Bata overheard an argument between a superior and a subordinate at the workshop, he exclaimed, „It’s useless when one talks about a goat and the other talks about a car. (i.e. utterly not understanding each other) That is the equivalent of becoming angry with a Turk for not understanding me. For them to reach an agreement, they must mutually comprehend one another, and vice versa.“
Bata’s school of work for young men – group of seventeen young Indians sent to Zlín in 1933 to study for three years, Josef Vaňhara (source: SOkA Zlín, cover no. 4427, order no. 1).
Bata’s school of work became renowned in Czechoslovakia for its large number of international students. In 1935, there were reportedly as many as 912 international students. The language barrier was viewed not as an impediment but as a significant advantage. There were no linguistically differentiated classes. Students were integrated into regular classes, and the objective was for them to acquire the Czech language in a natural manner through everyday interaction with their peers. Similarly, Czechs were expected to learn a foreign language from their peers.
Bata’s school of work – young women spend their free time in the dormitory reading room in 1937, Josef Vaňhara (source: SOkA Zlín, cover no. 4521, order no. 1).
As part of the experimental education in Masaryk’s differentiated schools, all students were taught to address one another formally. Previously, only children from the wealthiest families received this honour, but the company believed that all elementary school students should be taught their own worth and treated as equal partners. This was also meant to motivate educators. Respect for work was subsequently instilled at Batas’s school of work, alongside a sense of one’s own value. This would ensure that the children grow into self-confident, healthy individuals with respect for their profession.
In 1931, the Czechoslovak press broke new ground by reporting to merchants that the manufacturer Bata was implementing innovative sales training techniques. Even greater surprise was expressed at the notion of paying for individual education courses. At the time, it was common practice to pay for all educational courses on your own. The Bata company was the first in Czechoslovakia to implement a system that determined who would benefit most from an individual’s education and who would pay for it. In a school for salespeople, for instance, the salesperson paid one-third of the cost because he learned to be a better person and developed his own skills. A further one-third was paid by the salesperson’s manager, whose leadership performance improved with the quality of his team. The remaining one-third was paid by the company because the more capable its salespeople are, the greater the benefit to the company.
Equal access to education for girls and boys The Bata school of work for young women was founded in 1929. It was designed for young women ages 14 to 18. Domestic women’s magazines and the mainstream press of the time referred to this school as the only one of its kind that offers equal opportunities to both girls and boys (Bata’s work school for young men was founded as early as 1925). Young women were required to work in factories alongside young men, a fact that the women’s organisations of the time applauded enthusiastically. Due to the wages that the girls were able to earn at the Bata company, a quiet social revolution began. The Bata company helped the girls break free from financial subordination to men and gain financial independence.
Tomas Bata ranked business philosophy among his top priorities. It determined how business partners, and the general public would view the organisation. Key activities included business relations with partners and direct sales to the end customer. The sale to the final consumer was intended to resemble a single concert in which an orchestra of salespeople performed a personalised and irresistible symphony for the customer. In business relationships with suppliers and customers, upholding business ethics was vital.
Tomas Bata during one of his business trips in a Junkers aircraft in 1931 (source: SOkA Zlín, cover no. 3059, order no. 1).
Tomas Bata’s air business trip to India is described as the first long-distance trip undertaken by an entrepreneur with the intention of discovering new markets. Tomas Bata returned to Zlín on February 14, 1932, 66 days and 30,500 air kilometres after departing on December 10, 1931. This trip was covered extensively by the international press as it was considered a sensation.
Tomas Bata during a business flight break (source: SOkA Zlín, cover no. 167, order no. 2)
The entire accounting system was interconnected with the weekly internal accounting. Tomas Bata believed that, whenever possible, all invoices should be paid immediately, but no later than one week.
Sharing the business results of the Bata company in public space (source: SOkA Zlín, cover no. 6334, order no. 1).
„Indeed Zlín can rightfully be proud, because it was the Bata Department Store that installed the country’s first real escalator,“ historian Zdenek Pokluda said. It was created by the American Jesse W. Reno, who also designed the moving stairs in the Bata Department Store. „According to a newspaper article from the end of May 1934, the installation of an escalator between the second and third floors of the department store has begun and is expected to be completed within two weeks,“ says Zdenek Pokluda, adding that „self-service sales were also a revolutionary innovation at the start of the 1930s.“ In the department store you could buy anything from food to cars, which was unprecedented range of goods at the time.“
The advertisement had to capture people’s attention, speak to them, and carry a positive charge. It was nothing out of the ordinary, for example, scented paper in a shoebox, different scents in a store, a unique texture on personal letter paper, or music in the store space. The advertisement was intended to evoke a feeling that stimulated a desire for an experience.
The store in Zlín, Dily, features a display and evening lighting. Set up by regional arranger Chalupka (source: SOkA Zlín, cover no. 15421, sign. 1215_10, order no. 18).
The Bata company was the first in Czechoslovakia to begin selling its products in small villages. Tomas Bata himself and then other company employees toured the villages in search of a house with the largest window. As soon as such a house was discovered in the village and an agreement was reached with the building’s owner, the company Bata rented this window and displayed the shoes outside with a link to the location of the nearest store where they could be purchased. In remote villages, it was possible to order shoes directly from the building’s owner, who would then ship them to the customer’s address.
Period advertisement of the Bata company at the beginning of the 1920s (source: SOkA Zlín, cover no. 14926, sign. 720_31, order no. 48).
Bata was the first company in Czechoslovakia to conduct market research to determine the preferences of children’s customers. It was one of the largest surveys of its time in which children participated. Over 360,000 children across the nation participated in the study. It was discovered, for instance, that girls prefer white shoes and avoid green ones because they remind them of frogs. It has been discovered, among other things, that both girls and boys favour imitation shoes that resemble those worn by their parents.
Neon advertisement of the company Bata (source: SOkA Zlín, cover no. 6511, order no. 6).
In 1926, the Bata company conducted the first nationwide survey to determine how much time passers-by devote to a poster and what factors influence whether or not they pay sufficient attention to it. If a person is not interested in a poster within the first three seconds, primarily due to its colour, they will pass it by without any further consideration.
Tomas Bata also used airplanes for advertising purposes during his business trips (photo – trip to India, 1932), with each plane bearing a large Bata inscription (source: SOkA Zlín, cover no. 156, order no. 1).
The Bata company allegedly had the most massive aerial advertising campaign in Europe. It used a variety of methods, including dropping advertising flyers in cities where it was opening a store, announcing a special sales event, creating signs in the sky, or informing customers by dragging advertising banners behind the plane. It utilised both company-owned and leased aircraft for this purpose.
View into the advertising department of the Baťa company (source: archive of the Tomas Bata Foundation).
Jan Kroj, who worked in the advertising department of the Bata company, was tasked in 1939 with developing a technological procedure for screen printing. On September 15, 1940, he displayed a print from carved stencils on miller’s silk and a print from photojournalism stencils on phosphor bronze mesh in front of company representatives. This was practically the beginning of screen printing in Czechoslovakia. Prior to World War II, screen printing was primarily used by letter painters to make their jobs easier. The idea of printing printed circuit boards by screen printing dates back to 1936.
The Bata company was the first in Czechoslovakia not only to introduce so-called live shop windows, but also to transform the shop window into a space in which models walked with new types of shoes. In this establishment, pedicures and shoe repairs were also offered, allowing customers to see everything. Following that, the company took the next step, with activities taking place directly on the street. Later, shop windows were designed to be opened at any time, removing the last barrier between the customer and the shop, namely the glass of the shop window.