Reminiscence and Resource Centre

Forty Years a Bataman - 1954
On behalf of all Bata workers, Bata Record extends to Chief Buyer F Zak very sincere congratulations upon the completion, the other day, of 40 years’ service with the Bata Organisation.
In an interview with the Record, Mr Zak said “I joined the first Bata factory, down by the railway station in Zlin, soon after the outbreak of the first World War. It was my first job. I had intended to be an engineer but the war came along and I found myself in the shoe industry.
“I was a manipulator in the finishing room and shared duties with Mr J Bartos, now head of the Bata organisation in India.
At that time the factory was making mainly Army boots but after about two years, Mr Thomas Bata, the founder, started making civilian footwear as well.
“A transfer to the workshops found me first of all hammering toe puffs on Army boots and then working in both the upper and bottom manipulation departments. I was called up for service with the army and on my return was promoted to manipulation foreman.
“Always fond of figures, I felt very honoured when, one day, Mr Bata decided not to keep costings in his own office and made me the guardian of these secrets, with an instruction to try and improve on the costings. That was in 1924, when Mr Bata introduced a re-organisation of his costings.
“I found my new job very pleasant but very exacting, for all day I was busy in the workshop and at night I worked on the costings, making savings here and there. As the costings improved wages went up considerably and the quantity of the output was fixed. The factory was growing rapidly and Zlin was becoming a big town. Mr Bata started a rubber factory and I had to work our the costing basis for this new production.
“The late Mr Bata trusted me with greater responsibility and I tried to deserve that trust by hard work and furthering the interests of his organisation. I did my best to make a success of everything I tackled.
“When in 1931, Mr Bata decided to expand by building factories in other countries - the factory town where we started was by then a big, flourishing industrial centre - the costing department had to handle the calculations for the other factories and I travelled widely in Europe. My department now consisted of no less than 50 people because, in those days, all the administration was controlled and, as far as possible, done by the parent factory.
“In 1936 I was married and in 1938 went to Holland on the staff of an advisory company attached to the parent factory. From there I travelled extensively and when the war broke out I was in the new offices at Cambridge.
“The advisory company closed down and I was transferred to British Bata. For a time I was at Maryport and eventually came to East Tilbury to take charge of half the buying department. After a while Mr Tusa gave me the whole department to manage and there I am today.
“I like the work of the buying department because it has given me a chance to see another side of the work of the Bata organisation and to see and handle materials which were little more than names before and I hope that, with the co-operation of the staff of the department, I shall continue to serve the Company to advantage for some years to come.
“My home town was a few miles out of Zlin and there I was a member of the council and was largely responsible for building the secondary school. I also took an interest in the sports club, managed to get a ground which was properly laid out and raised the standard until it became a first class club, of which I was elected chairman and honorary life member.”
F ZAK