A coffee with...Radek Průša (Technistone, Czech Republic)
Discover what Radek Průša - Technistone’s CEO and Chairman of the Board, told us about his experience in the company, his vision and how Technistone has evolved from a production company to a customer and product-oriented one.
Technistone entered the market in 1991 as one of the first European quartz manufacturers. The first 20 years of the company's operation were focused mainly on the production of products to meet the demands of a few small-scale customers, without a clear vision, strategic management concept, marketing approach, and building a solid brand.
The lack of conceptuality of this approach was fully manifested during the global economic crisis of 2008-2010, when the company got into significant financial problems.
In 2010, the financing banks requested a change of ownership charged with the task of carrying out a complete restructuring of the company. Radek Průša recalls this period:
“In the first half of 2010, I was acquainted with the Technistone business case and asked if I would actively participate in the project as a co-owner and CEO. This offer came at the end of my term at ELIT Group (Switzerland), where I was the Group Managing Director and chief executive. I helped to build the Elit company with my friend as a green field, since 1992, it was a startup, I had no prerequisite knowledge, capital, armed only with great energy and enthusiasm to prove a point . We succeeded in the mission. We ended up building a flourishing company with an annual turnover of EUR 500 million, which is now part of the American company LKQ listed on the New York Stock Exchange.
Technistone, on the other hand, was a manufacturing company, so my focus was diversified into a completely different area of business than the one I was familiar with. However, it was more of a challenge than an obstacle for me. Basically, this was the reason why I decided to actively participate in the project of repositioning the company.
The vision of a leader
Technistone was acquired by a new owner led by Radek Průša in June 2010, and the efforts to salvage the company began immediately. Radek says of this period:
“I always thought that it was very difficult to build a company from scratch or out of nothing, but after a few months I realized that much harder task was to redirect and reset the firm processes and find the best approach to introduce positive synergy forming stable and prosperous system. This would lift the company from a state of imminent failure onto a path that leads to long-term prosperity.
The company was like a patient in the intensive care unit, who could pass out at any moment. Each new day brought hope, but also doubts about surviving economic difficulties and commercial existence.
One of the partners who played a significant role in these difficult times was Breton. This company continually lent a helping hand when necessary and was always forthcoming in solving difficult technological and financial problems, thereby becoming an indispensable and valuable partner in our path to growth. I would like to express my sincere thanks and appreciation for this friendly and accommodating act, which was one of the decisive moments during our critical situation.”
A team of enthusiastic specialists
The efforts to rescue the company lasted more than a year, followed by another 2 years of stabilization. This meant the tireless work of the entire committed executive team, the implementation of countless changes with the main goal of achieving optimum production capacity, which at this time was only 25%.
Radek adds about this period: “Already in the period of salvaging the company, I became more and more aware that the company had a huge potential, which was not utilized at all in the past. The company has undergone major organizational, personnel and procedural changes; we defined short-term tactics that helped to quickly stabilize the company. We set a comprehensive strategy for the company for the coming years, in which the basic premise was to change a production company to a customer and product-oriented one. To realize this we need people. They form an integral part of the strategy. Luckily, I was surrounded by a team of enthusiastic specialists from various fields, who brought their experience, know-how and new stimuli to the company for its future development.
In the initial phase, we did not invest at all in production and we tried to make full use of the potential of existing production capacities. We recognized that the essential ingredients of successful project management are money, machinery, manpower and time. On the contrary, where we strongly invested time, money and human resources, there was an effort to completely change the business model. We defined a new distribution, product and pricing policy, which in the first phase brought us only an increase in profitability, because inefficient business with large customers was replaced by many new medium-sized partners, and at the same time the company tried out its first branch outside the Czech Republic."
The importance to find a balance
After this period of stabilization, there was a period of dynamic growth in turnover. The steps of the new strategy having been fully implemented immediately brought a significant positive effect and progress.
Radek comments on this period:
“If a company has a clear vision, evolves the internal dynamics of change, and at the same time is able to build a functional system, then success cannot be prevented. This is evidenced by my professional motto: Vision - gives our work direction and determination, Dynamics - gives our work speed and intensity, System - gives our work stability. Of course, there must have been various modifications and partial changes during the execution, but the company did not deviate from its stated strategy.
Steve Jobs is a great example for Radek, who built and developed two different companies during his professional career, and Radek always likes to use his slogan: Sometimes life hits you in the head with brick. Don't lose faith. "Yes, even during this successful period, the company had to deal with considerable obstacles, such as the return of an investment subsidy of 4 million euros, as a result of the mistake of past owners. Even with such an intervention the company successfully met its obligations and its financial condition improved significantly.”
In the past, during the period of rescue and stabilization of the company, there were not enough funds to invest in production. Very soon, thanks to the dynamic increase in turnover, the production capacity was filled and it was essential to start increasing it, either by replacing old machinery or by completely retrofitting production lines. The overall financial condition of the company has already enabled us to do this. The company was considering continuing to work with Breton or other suppliers that appeared on the market.
In the end, Technistone decided on its traditional partner Breton and chose it as its strategic partner. Breton supplied machines for a complete modernization of production and ensured the innovation of the existing technology. The joint team of Technistone and Breton managed to fully modernize the production plant and double production. Even in this period of large investments, which required several months of production downtime, the company managed to maintain constant dynamic growth by developing its business model.
Here is another comment by Radek: “We needed to significantly modernize production lines, but how to ensure the availability of products during outages? Here, for the first time, I was able to use my know-how from my previous distribution company. We have implemented a unique production planning system with regard to capacity and storage space versus the requirements of our customers.
I am proud to say that we carried out each shutdown on time with the highly professional support of Breton, and we always managed to maintain excellent customer service."
Under strong wings
After a significant modernization and full executive strategy, negotiations took place between the owners, unfortunately everyone presented a different view of the future which ultimately resulted in an agreement to sell the company, "continues, the current CEO & CHAIRMAN OF THE BOARD Radek Průša of Technistone.
It took more than eleven months to find and negotiate a new owner on a global scale who would be a strong partner with ambitions to turn the strengths and opportunities of both parties into unrivaled benefits and success. Of all the finalists, the American company Wilsonart Engineered Surfaces best met the ideas and requirements for the new owner, not only with its offer and flexibility, but also with its ambition to build an advanced and sophisticated distribution system in the commercial and residential market segments. "After this right step, I look forward to the future alongside the Wilsonart global corporation. This is an important moment for the entire Technistone team.
Thanks to all of us, we can continue our plans under the auspices of a major manufacturer of interior surfaces and be its flagship in the quartz segment. Further development in the near future, the expansion of production capacity with new lines, will take place in cooperation with Breton, which will again help move Technistone to a higher level. I am glad and honored to be able to lead such a successful project and continue to be at the birth of the material that customers love so much. Now we envisage a wide horizon where we can show our wings in their full long-lasting beauty."