From Wisniowski to Tendon
Many ropemakers used to travel across the land with a rucksack on the shoulders or on a handcart and made the required cords directly in the farmyards for some flax, food or occasionally for money. Ropemaking was not a lucrative trade and the majority of ropemakers lived from day to day. Ropemaking was not counted among municipal guilds, it was not even mentioned among the 68 trade types at Opava after the Thirty Years’ war. But yet it survived till the present time. After the end of World War II, there were only 10 ropemakers with trade licence in the former Region of Ostrava. And only three ropemakers, namely Emil Vlček, Josef Polášek and Eduard Wisniowski, worked in the vicinity of the city of Opava in 1947.
The Wisniowskis, a family of ropemakers
At Wieliczka in today’s Poland, a son was born in the family of butcher Ignac Wisniowski and his wife Terezia. His name was Vojtěch and he did not choose his father’s trade, but he got a training in ropemaking. On 24th May 1891, on the occasion of the Journeymen’s Fair, he married Mariana and they both moved to Hrabůvka (part of today’s Ostrava) where he was granted the trade licence for ropemaking. Their only son Eduard Wisniowski was born there on 24th September 1898. He got a training in ropemaking and received the trade licence to carry out this trade at Svinov.
Flax, tobacco and ammunition factory at Chuchelná
At the turn of the 19th to the 20th century, Prince Karl Lichnovský concentrated on factory business to increase the productivity of his large estates. He started to grow technical crops, sugar beet and flax on his fields on an area of more than 1,000 hectares and supplied them to his factories – a sugar refinery at Raciborz and a flax processing factory at Chuchelná. The latter was built by him in 1908 for processing of products delivered from retteries at Křenovice, Strahovice, Chuchelná and Stary Staw in Lower Silesia, and included a research station at Albertovec near Bolatice. To support his business activities, he also pushed through that the railway track between Opava and Raciborz was built through Chuchelná. The flax processing factory processed 15,000 kg of retted flax in the first year of its operation, i.e. in 1908, but expanded gradually to become the second largest factory of its kind in Germany with 20% of the whole production of flax yarn, which was 195,000 centners of processed raw flax from which 300 wagons of yarn were made. In addition to this main product, also flaxseed oil was produced in the factory. Unfortunately, in January 1920 the factory building suffered from fire and the flax packing room was destroyed, and another misfortune joined the huge damage shortly afterwards, namely the loss of a great raw material basis after the annexation of the Hlučín Region to the Czechoslovak Republic. This led to decline of the factory, reduction of production, and final shut-down on 23rd April 1925. 200 female and 20 male factory workers lost their jobs. The factory buildings were bought by the state which established a tobacco factory there. The opening ceremony of commencement of production in the reconstructed factory was attended by the Minister of Finance, Mr. Karel Engliš, with other important statesmen. The management of the factory was involved also in the small town’s community life. For instance, the deputy director of the tobacco factory, Mr. Karel Urban, was elected the deputy mayor of Chuchelná. But soon the hard times of the occupation came. Before the occupation by the Nazis on 24th September 1938, the machines of the tobacco factory were transported inland. The occupation army established an ammunition plant in the empty factory in 1941 in which artillery cartridges were made. The plant started to work in spring of 1942, all the managers came from the German Reich, the production was kept secret, and the number of employees reached 600 with the majority of which being women.
Factory of Mr. Wisniovski-Višňovský at Chuchelná
Eduard Wisniowski-Višňovský, the ropemaker carrying out his trade at Ostrava-Svinov, decided to start large-scale production in reaction to competitive struggle. So he bought from the National Property Fund the empty and heavily damaged objects of the former ammunition plant at Chuchelná in 1946 and established the Silesian Cordage Mill in several repaired buildings of the plant. Pursuant to his application of 3rd December 1946, he was granted a trade licence No. 391/4-111/12 for production of ropes and cords at Chuchelná on 1st August 1947. Not for a long time. After the coup d’etat by the communists, the factory was nationalized and went under the control of the state-owned enterprise Elektro-Praga and later, in 1951, Sigma Lutín as a stamping and pressing shop.
The Silesian Cordage Mill at Bolatice
Eduard Višňovský did not surrender after the nationalization of his factory at Chuchelná and agreed in February 1949 with the municipal authorities of Bolatice on transfer of the rope and cord production to that municipality. For that purpose, he acquired a former estate in restitution the main building of which was built in as early as 1899. After repairing the war-worn estate, the Silesian Cordage Mill at Bolatice, as the Višňovský’s factory was called, started production in summer of 1949. The initial number of employees was 83 and products were made in the building of the former granary on machinery made by Muffler. Large-diameter ropes were made in the open air. But soon Eduard Višňovský suffered an additional loss. The communists nationalized the factory at Bolatice on 1st January 1950.
Konopa - Lýko
On 1st January 1950, the nationalized factory of Eduard Višňovský was incorporated into the state-owned enterprise Konopa having its registered office at Český Krumlov. From every corner of the country, machines and mechanical devices from wound-up companies were transported to the factory at Bolatice and production went up. New buildings, storehouses for raw materials and finished goods, gatehouse, canteen and kitchen were built. A delimitation on 1st January 1954 brought Konopa Bolatice under the control of the state-owned enterprise Lýko Olomouc as Works 04 of that enterprise with subsidiaries at Přerov and Kunov. The period under Lýko’s control was the period of rapid expansion of rope production. The company built a spinning shop for rope yarns and a braiding shop in which preconditions for processing of synthetic fibres were created. The drop in number of buyers of small agricultural goods as a result of expanding mechanization in agriculture was compensated by the addition of synthetic fibres to the range of products made by the company.
Lýko Olomouc was wound up on 1st April 1958 and the factory at Bolatice was incorporated into the state-owned enterprise Juta having its registered office at Dvůr Králové nad Labem. This was the fourth reorganization during a relatively short period, which did not contribute to prosperity. New products for engineering, mining and metallurgical industries were added to the range of products. After pulling down the canteen with the kitchen in 1964, the company built a confection plant. Next year the spinning mill was shut down and a shop for finishing and impregnation of belts was established instead of it. In 1966, a weaving shop was built into which the manufacture of textile belts from Technolen at Šluknov was relocated and braiding machines for production cords, ropes and mountaineering ropes, including a test laboratory, were brought. First state-of-the-art machines for production of twisted ropes and cords in diameters from 3 to 30 mm were procured from SIMA, an Italy-based company, at that time also. Those machines made full use of synthetic fibres that completed the earlier-introduced production of hemp ropes. In 1974, a new building for the confection plant was built and the production of corn bags went up. Then a new building for the weaving shop was built and equipped with productive weaving looms made by Müller for weaving of belts – elevator belts made of cotton, conveyer belts and other heavy belts, endless belts Titan. The fleet of machines of the cordage shop was also modernized, the new machines were braiding machines made by Strojtex and rope twisting machines made by SIMA. In 1983, the construction of a new boiler house started. A new chemical production line made by Cowena for the production of basic PP tapes was installed. The production strategy changed from complete dependence on the domestic market to export – this was made possible by production of polypropylene twines and installation of semiautomatic sewing machines made by Adler. A braiding machine made by Viking for the production of PP marine ropes was also installed and those ropes were intended for export only. On 1st January 1989, the factory at Bolatice acquired a plant at Krnov with a hemp spinning shop, a paper spinning shop, and a viscose twine production shop. The growing demand for big bags on the domestic market as well as on foreign markets led to an extensive reconstruction of the ropemaking shop and installation of a belt impregnation line made by Upalan. Strojtext Nový Jičín delivered 14 braiding machines (48 carriers each) for production of mountaineering ropes. The production changed from hemp ropes to PES ropes. The production of big bags finally replaced the sewing of corn bags. The November events shook the management of Juta, the basic works organization of the Communist Party of Czechoslovakia collapsed, and on 1st May 1990 Mr. Ing. Rudolf Gregořica was elected the director of company by closed ballot. The state-owned enterprise changed its name to Lanex.
Lanex, Joint Stock Company, Bolatice
The new management prepared a project of privatization of the state-owned enterprise Lanex which was approved by the Ministry of Industry and Trade of the Czech Republic after some changes in March 1992. On the basis of that project, the company was privatized by a coupon privatization method. In order to realize the privatization, the company Conrop was established which later became a shareholder of Lanex a. s. with a share of 40%. On 1st May 1992, the state-owned enterprise Lanex transformed into Lanex Bolatice, a joint stock company, with a foundation capital of 79,814,000 CZK, and the National Property Fund appointed its board of directors.
On 7th February 2009, Lanex a. s. Bolatice celebrated the 60th anniversary of its foundation which is considered to be the transfer of the Silesian Cordage Mill from Chuchelná to Bolatice by Eduard Wisniowski. The company is a leading Czech manufacturer of products belonging to the field of technical textiles. It is necessary to mention braided and twisted ropes and cords made of fibre materials for water transport, fishing, civil engineering, agriculture, paper industry, load restraint assemblies, dynamic and static ropes for mountain climbers, firemen and persons working at height, products for lifting of loads, high-tenacity technical fibres for production of yarns for rope and cord production. The turnover of Lanex a. s. has been continuously growing up and export makes 85% of it today. The company exports to more than 55 countries of the world, of which the leading markets are those of the European Union and the farthermost export territories are Australia, the USA, Iceland and Japan.
In 2005, a rebranding of the assortment of dynamic and static ropes was done and a new product brand for that assortment was introduced – TENDON.
Today, TENDON is a young but well-known and globally successful brand of static and dynamic ropes. Thanks to our know-how and the long-term cooperation with universities, research institutes and certified laboratories as well as to our continuous investing in development and modernization of equipment, we became a supplier to the most demanding clients in the world.
We are one of the leading world manufacturers on the market of mountaineering equipment and personal protective equipment for work at height, for military purposes, and for rescue activities. During the years of its existence, Tendon established itself as a professional and innovative brand.
All our high-performance and innovative products are being developed and produced in the Czech Republic and are certified and in full conformity with international safety standards of the European Union.