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The Cobbler Who Conquered the World

by Rob Cameron (3448 words)

Tomáš Baťa built the world’s largest shoe manufacturing enterprise out of a tiny family workshop by using production methods and management techniques that were revolutionary in his era, and which still find application today.

When Tomáš Baťa boarded his personal plane on July 12, 1932, he was at the peak of his powers, a handsome, square-jawed man of 56 with a thick head of hair. From his headquarters in the Czech city of Zlín, he oversaw a worldwide manufacturing operation producing more than 35 million pairs of shoes annually. There were 1,825 Baťa outlets in Czechoslovakia alone, with another 660 across the globe. There were Baťa shops from Sweden to Syria, Baťa factories from Switzerland to Singapore, all bearing the same red cursive logo, and all run by the same methods and philosophy.

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