Rubrika: Publicistika – Co je psáno...


THOMAS BATA , Jr., the patriarch of the most impotant Czech (and Czehoslovak) business dynasty, died in Toronto on September 1, 2008, less than three weeks before his 94th birthday. He was born on September 17, 1914 in Zlin, some years later described in the New York Times as "the Detroit of Czechoslovakia" {Canadian Who's Who, 2006 ed. shows as the country of his birth Czechoslovakia which wasn't established umtil 4 years after his birth and ceased to exist long before 2006 - an oversight or an echo of his political preference?).

Thomas attended schools at Zlin, England and Switzerlandand and Academy of Commerce in Uherske Hradiste. In 1932, when his father (and founder of the Bata empire), Tomas Bata died in a plane crash, Thomas was 18 years old and the management of the firm was entrusted to Thomas' s uncle, Jan A. Bata. At that time, the Bata firm was the largest shoe manufacturer in the world, producing 36 million pairs of shoes annually.

The firm survived the Nazi occupation which caused Thomas - with a group of Bata employees - to flee to Canada. They settled in Southern Ontario, where they established a hamlet called Batawa {the name of the founder of the firm plus the last syllable of the Canadian capital's name: Ottawa). The factory they built there did not produce just shoes.They brought with them some of the most modern engineering machinery - much superior to the Canadian machinery at that time - eminently suitable to war production. So nobody was surprised when among the participants of the Day of the Allied Nations organized in Batawa on July 5, 1942 by the local branch of the Czechoslovak Association of Canada and Sokol, were - as guests of Thomas Bata - two members of the Canadian government, T.A Crerar and C. Gibson, as well as representatives of the Soviet Union, Free Poland, Norway, Free France and of the Czechoslovak government in exile. (Ironically, a few months after the 1999 celebration of the 60th anniversary of the group's arrival in Canada, the Bata company ceased all production of shoes in Canada - not even Bata could compete with the third world...

On October 26, 1946, Thomas married Sonja Ingrid Wettstein, a daughter of the Bata lawyer in Switzerland, a woman whose reputation in the business circles equals (and possibly exceeds) that of her late husband (yes, the Bata shoe museum, but much much more). Sonja and Thomas have 4 children, three daughters and one son. Their marriage was obviously a happy one. According to Thomas, mainly because they never mixxed business and love.

To enumerate all honours received by Thomas and all offices he held would fill a couple of pages. So let me mention just a few : Honorary Chairman of Bata Limited, which operates (according to Canadian Who's Who, 2006 ed.), shoe factories, shoe stores and related enterprises in over 60 countries, employing over 58,000 people and makes and sells 300 million pairs of shoes annually. He was a governer, officer or director of companies and institutions such as Canadian Chamber of Commerce, National Ballet Guild of Canada, Canadian Council of Chief Executives, Trent University, IBM Canada Ltd., IBM World Trade Americas/Far East Corp., Canadian Pacific Air Lines, Business Advisory Council IFC (World Bank), International Trade Advisory Committee to the Government of Canada, International Chamber of Commerce. He also held the position of Expert Advisor to the United Nations Committee on Transnational corporations, and Honorary Chairman of Canada-India Business Council. Among the honours he received should be mentioned: the highest Canadian civilian honour, Companion , Order of Canada; Fellow, International Academy of Management; Honorary Doctorate, University of Economics, Prague; Hon. Doctorate, Technical University, Brno; Hon, LL.D., York University, St. Francis Xavier University; Paul Harris Fellow {Rotary). Served in Canadian Reserve Army as Captain, Hastings and Prince Edward Regiment (appointed Honorary Colonel in 1999). He enjoyed sports, particularly tennis, skiing and swimming.

Still, when time finishes its work, what many of us will remember, might well be his accessibility, a kind of Moravian geniality, genuine folksiness, consciousness of common destiny with all. All of us, regardless of how we saw him, somehow felt more secure because he was among us. We wish to convey our sincere sympathy to Mrs. Bata and all members of the Bata family.  

Tento článek byl v Pozitivních novinách poprvé publikován 03. 09. 2008.