When One Man Changes the Lives of Thousands: The Story of a Businessman Who Built His Own Town

Three hundred years of shoemaking as a tiny family trade and then came Tomas Baťa who established Baťa, a brand that became synonymous with shoes. Continuing with our series on university towns, this week we talk about Zlin. However, it is unthinkable to talk about Zlin without Baťa.

The Story About Tomas Baťa

Though many think of Baťa as a Canadian organization it is little known on a worldwide basis that the company has its roots in the what was an obscure town of Zlin in the Czech Republic, at the time in Czechoslovakia under the name Gotwaldov.

Tomas Baťa began the business in a somewhat organized way with the help of his brother and sister, as a young man of 18 way back in 1894 with a paltry sum of equivalent to about 300 US$.

The business grew and his foresight took Tomáš to the U.S., then a long way by land and sea, to learn the modern methods of shoe making. These he employed in his own business along with more ideas that originated from his own acumen.

Come World War I and the demand for military shoes exploded. This helped Baťa’s business skyrocket. So much so that almost every family in Zlin had someone working for Baťa.

Little known except within the country or the neighbouring territories, Tomas Baťa was not just a businessman with a great insight into the business world but also a good, sensitive human being. He is known to have made sure his employees were well cared for.

Even before the onset of World War II he put in place modern methods including decentralizing and began producing shoes in different parts of the world, including France, USA and India.

One of the memorable things he said was “Let’s bear in mind that the chances to multiply wealth are unlimited. All people can become rich.

There is an error in our understandings – that all people cannot become equally rich. Wealth can not exist where the people are busy with mutual cheating, have no time for creating values and wealth.

It is remarkable that we can find the greatest number of wealthy tradesmen and a population on a high standard of living in countries with a high level of business morality.

On the other hand, we can find poor tradesmen and entrepreneurs and an impoverished population in countries with a low standard of business morality.

This is natural because these people concentrate on cheating one another instead of trying to create value”.

He ran several social schemes, including housing and education.

After he was killed in an air crash his half-brother Jan Antonín Baťa and eventually his son Thomas Baťa took over the business.

Both Jan Antonín and Tomas Baťa Jr. were able to escape to the U.S. before the onset of World War II. From here Tomáš Baťa Jr. went on to establish the headquarters in Canada.

Come the velvet revolution and Tomáš Baťa was invited to take back and invest in his factories that had been nationalized during communism and the town of Zlin was languishing.

Hereupon the town of Zlin began growing again.

The university of Zlin is known as Tomáš Baťa University and offers a vast range of courses and has several faculties. More details can be seen on their website.

Tomáš Baťa University 

Zlin is today a modern town and is known as the garden city with plenty of facilities, including sports and culture.

Part time employment can be easily found by students wishing to study there.

Cost of living : For about 400 to 450 US$ a student can live fairly well in Zlin meeting her or his basic necessities, including accommodation while being able to spare some money for entertainment.

Also published:
University Cities – Brno, Czech Republic and Brno in Photographs
Discover Prague as a University City: Where to Study, How Much It Costs and What It Offers For Leisure and Fun and Prague Through Photographs
When One University Is Enough, Discover One of the Oldest Czech Students Cities – Olomouc and Olomouc Through Photographs

Photo: Shutterstock


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