Ernst & Young Karlovo nám. 10 120 00 Praha 2 www.ey.com/cz News release Lenka Čermáková Ernst & Young Tel.: +420 225 335 967 Mobil: +420 731 627 166 E-mail: [email protected] Roman Pavlík Fleishman Hillard Tel.: +420 224 232 650 Mobil: +420 777 791 878 E-mail: [email protected] František Piškanin of HOPI has been named Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year 2012 in the Czech Republic Karel Volenec of ELLA-CS becomes Technology Entrepreneur of the Year 2012 Prague, 14 February 2013 – František Piškanin, owner of the logistics company HOPI s.r.o., has been awarded the prestigious prize for Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year 2012 in the Czech Republic. He accepted the winner’s trophy on 13 February at the Žofín Palace in Prague from Bohuslav Svoboda, Mayor of the City of Prague, and Magdalena Souček, Country Managing Partner, Ernst & Young. The contest has been organized by Ernst & Young in the Czech Republic since 2000. The Technology Entrepreneur of the Year award went to Karel Volenec, director of ELLA-CS, s.r.o. This year also saw a prize awarded for Social Entrepreneur of the Year 2012 in the Czech Republic, which was won by Robert Schönfeld of the International School of Music and Fine Arts. The judging panel’s prize was won by Zuzana Ceralová Petrofová of PETROF, spol. s r.o. “What I experienced today is unforgettable for me. I have to admit that when my sons nominated me for the competition, I pointed out that I have a strategy ‘less talk, more work’. Today, I have to say that I’m truly proud how many capable entrepreneurs I’ve had the opportunity to get to know since entering Entrepreneur of the Year. It goes to show that the saying “golden Czech hands” applies as always. Indeed, HOPI is celebrating twenty years and this award, which belongs to the entire HOPI team, certainly motivates me to continue on,” recounted winner František Piškanin about his immediate impressions. “I believe that František Piškanin will successfully represent Czech entrepreneurs at the world finals in Monte Carlo and that his business story will impress the judges there as much as it impressed us,” says Magdalena Souček, Country Managing Partner of Ernst & Young in the Czech Republic, adding: “The aim of the Entrepreneur of the Year award is to support business development in our country and to make the word ‘entrepreneur’ respectable again. The competition nominees lead firms that have succeeded in the face of stiff competition and A member firm of Ernst & Young Global Limited complex economic conditions. They share a sense of honesty and place emphasis on business ethics, diligence, responsibility and humility. And perhaps it is these very qualities that have kept them among the best and make them worthy of our respect.” Winner profile: František Piškanin – HOPI s.r.o. If you ever do your shopping in a supermarket, then most of your items will have been delivered by František Piškanin’s firm. And yet when František Piškanin began his business activities he had nothing. He opened a small grocery shop in Karlovy Vary in 1992. He had the idea of providing comprehensive quality services for supranational chains and Czech and international production firms with the support of his lifelong mentor, Mr Houdek. These days the HOPI logistics and transport group is one of the largest players in Central and Eastern Europe, employs more than 3,300 people in the CR, Slovakia, Hungary, Poland and Romania, and is planning to start business in Austria. This is a purely Czech family firm that, in his words, has a Czech heart and an international body. It provides its comprehensive logistics services to the most important international and Czech companies, including P&G, Makro, Metro, Unilever, Billa, Tesco, Ahold, Kraft Foods, Nestle, Agrofert, Bohemia Sekt, Nutricia, Emco and many others. At present it is consolidating its no. 1 position in Central Europe in the logistics of frozen products by constructing further freezer plants. During the time it has existed HOPI has contributed almost CZK 5 billion to the state budget. HOLLANDIA and Agro Otročín also belong to the HOPI group. František Piškanin is pleased that his sons also work for the company. He believes that a family approach, combined with unique knowhow, is the competitive advantage enjoyed by HOPI. In his free time he remains active and devotes himself to his foundation, lectures, is a member of many associations, and enjoys riding a motorbike, tractor and rallying. Don´t worry, be HOPI. The other 2012 Entrepreneur of the Year finalists were: Lubomír Stoklásek, AGROSTROJ Pelhřimov, a.s. Remon Leonard Vos, CTP Invest, spol. s r.o. Mieczyslaw Molenda, GASCONTROL, společnost s r.o. Zdeněk Pelc, GZ Digital Media, a.s. Josef Novák, VEBA, textilní závody a.s. The winner of the Technology Entrepreneur of the Year award for 2012 is Karel Volenec of ELLA-CS, s.r.o., a company that owns many Czech and international patents and is at present the only global manufacturer of unique medical devices: a degradable truss (stent), the Danis stent for stopping variceal bleeding, and an extractor that every year protects thousands of lives and is lauded the world over. Ernst & Young and the Schwab Foundation for Social Entrepreneurship this year presented the Social Entrepreneur of the Year award to Robert Schönfeld of the International School of Music and Fine Arts. Eva Katrušáková of the charity Every Czech Reads to Kids was voted a finalist in the competition Social Entrepreneur of the Year 2012. This year the judging panel decided to award a special prize for an exceptional contribution. The prize was won by Zuzana Ceralová Petrofová of PETROF, spol. s r.o., the world famous Czech manufacturer of grand and upright pianos, for its ability to maintain the tradition of the production of musical instruments in the Czech Republic. The recipient of the MF DNES and iDNES.cz Reader’s Award for the “Best business story” is Helena Bednářová of Centrin CZ s.r.o. A private organisation Centrin CZ s.r.o. provides longand short-term residential social services to senior citizens. The Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year 2011 competition is open to any company owner or manager with a 25 % or more ownership interest in the company, or a co-owner of a public company who is primarily responsible for its performance and is an active member of top management. The company must be at least 2 years old and employ at least 10 people. When reaching its decisions the judging panel abides by international rules. The main evaluation criteria include strategic orientation, global reach, and of course a company’s financial results, which are a clear indicator of the health and future prospects of a firm. The evaluation process is complex and as well as financial data takes into account the personality of the competitor and their business story. The members of the judging panel also examine the business spirit of each nominee, their honesty and fairness, and their activities outside the company in society at large or the region. The competition is co-organised by the daily newspaper MF Dnes and iDNES.cz. The competition partners are Accredio, Raiffeisenbank and g82. Support is also provided by the CzechInvest, the TUESDAY Business Network, the Czech Venture Capital Association, and the US Business School Praha. The media partners are the magazine FORBES, the weekly EURO, and Czech Radio Radiožurnál. The competition is held under the auspices of the Czech Chamber of Commerce. ________________________________________________________________________________________ Attachments to the news release: 1. Members of the judging panel 2. Profiles of winners and finalists 3. Regional winners About the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year competition Entrepreneur of the Year, which selects the most successful business pioneers and innovators, was started by Ernst & Young in the United States in 1986. The contest has continued to grow and expanded to a number of countries worldwide. Currently the only internationally recognized competition of its kind, it is regularly held in nearly 50 countries on six continents. Its aim is to introduce to the public outstanding individuals in the field of business who may serve as examples for young, up-and-coming entrepreneurs. The Entrepreneur of the Year contest has been conceived as an international competition, so the judging criteria are comparable in every country where it takes place. For more information, please visit www.podnikatelroku.cz. About Ernst & Young Ernst & Young is a global leader in assurance, tax, transaction and advisory services. Worldwide, our 167,000 people are united by our shared values and an unwavering commitment to quality. We make a difference by helping our people, our clients and our wider communities achieve potential. Ernst & Young refers to the global organization of member firms of Ernst & Young Global Limited, each of which is a separate legal entity. Ernst & Young Global Limited, a UK company limited by guarantee, does not provide services to clients. For more information, please visit www.ey.com/cz. Attachment 1 Entrepreneur of The Year 2012 judging panel members Jannis Samaras, judging panel chairman, KOFOLA, Entrepreneur of the Year 2011 Adam Walach, WALMARK, Entrepreneur of the Year 2010 Eduard Kučera, AVAST Software, Entrepreneur of the Year 2009 Vladimír Kovář, Unicorn, Entrepreneur of the Year 2008 Pavel Juříček, BRANO GROUP, Entrepreneur of the Year 2006 for the Czech Republic Zbyněk Frolík, LINET, Entrepreneur of the Year 2003 for the Czech Republic Jana Ryšlinková, dean, US Business School Prague Petr Šmída, investor, ENERN Tomáš Ventura, deputy editor-in-chief of iDNES.cz Pavel Páral, editor-in-chief, EURO Advisory Board Radim Jančura – STUDENT AGENCY, Entrepreneur of the Year 2005 Miroslav Řihák – ANECT, Entrepreneur of the Year 2004 Kvido Štěpánek – Isolit-Bravo, Entrepreneur of the Year 2002 Petr Koblic – Prague Stock Exchange Štěpán Lacina – Accredio Lubor Žalman Technology Entrepreneur of the Year 2012 judging panel members Ivan Pilný – judging panel chairman, TUESDAY Business Network Ondřej Bartoš – Credo Ventures Jiří Beneš – 3TS Capital Partners Jaroslav Klíma – TESCAN, Technology Entrepreneur of the Year 2011 Josef Suska – HOKAMI CZ, Technology Entrepreneur of the Year 2007 Social Entrepreneur of the Year 2012 judging panel members Petra Vitoušová – judging panel chair, Bílý kruh bezpečí, Social Entrepreneur of the Year 2002 Dolores Czudková – Ergon, Social Entrepreneur of the Year 2011 Pavel Křížek – Ochrana fauny České republiky o.s., Social Entrepreneur of the Year 2010 Drahoslava Kabátová – Letohrádek Vendula, Social Entrepreneur of the Year 2008 Jozef Baláž – Social Entrepreneur of the Year 2007 Sandor Nagy – Schwab Foundation for Social Entrepreneurship Monika Mudranincová – Mladá fronta DNES, head of the City Magazine Attachment 2 Profiles Ernst & Young Technology Entrepreneur of the Year 2012: Karel Volenec, ELLA-CS, s.r.o. Karel Volenec has dedicated his life to research. Everything started at the Medical Faculty of Charles University in Hradec Králové, where Karel was involved in new methods of treating tumours. The faculty was not equipped to put these methods into practice, and so Karel was almost obliged to start doing business. He got into debt because of the construction of a laboratory, but by selling his first colleague’s car he was able to buy a lathe. However, he had faith in his vision and research and the results gradually began to bear fruit. His firm’s inventions save thousands of lives every year and are appreciated the world over. ELLA-CS owns many Czech and international patents and is at present the only global manufacturer of unique medical devices: a degradable truss (stent), the Danis stent for stopping variceal bleeding, and an extractor. The company is best renowned for its biodegradable truss, the only one of its type in the world, which helps clear the digestive tract and is today regularly referred to in medical literature in Europe and the USA. Karel likes to devote his free time to farming in the Šumava Mountains and is a sports pilot. He recharges his energy from the results of his work, deriving the most satisfaction from saving human lives and being commended by his colleagues, world specialists in this field. Social Entrepreneur of the Year 2012: Robert Schönfeld – International School of Music and Fine Arts Robert Schönfeld studied at the Academy of Music in Prague and has an MA in music and art history and the violin. Upon returning from a study trip to Finland in 1997, he realised that the Czech Republic was not offering a musical education in anything other than Czech. He also saw how limited job opportunities were for Czech artists, whom the education system at that time did not allow to combine the obligations of a concert artist with teaching activities. He decided to establish using his own finances a school that would be innovative in its approach both to teachers and students. This would be an institution providing top class Czech artists the backup allowing them a regular income and offering children the possibility of expanding their talent in a natural, playful form. The International School of Music and Fine Arts, the first international school of its kind in the CR, first opened its doors in 1998 to a small group of pupils. These days the school has 500 students and provides work for more than 100 teachers. As well as music the school offers creative and dance lessons, organises concerts, exhibitions and educational seminars for music teachers. Robert Schönfeld is a businessman and philanthropist, and founder of the RSBC group. Finalist of the Social Entrepreneur of the Year 2012: Eva Katrušáková, Every Czech Reads to Kids, o.p.s. After completing her studies at the Philosophy Faculty of the Palacký University, Olomouc, Eva Katrušáková worked as a teacher. At the end of the 90s she opened the Pygmalion private foreign langue school. In 2006 she changed course, entered the non-profit sphere and founded the organisation Every Czech Reads to Kids (CČČD). The organisation, which conducts a successful educational and media campaign around the whole country, aims to create strong family bonds through reading together. Scientific research and practitioners in the field have shown that reading aloud to children is of huge significance in the development of their emotional maturity. And 20 minutes a day is enough. Reading aloud develops language skills, memory and the imagination, as well as teaching moral values. The campaign is especially important these days, when a child’s leisure time is dominated by the computer and the television. Though the original inspiration came from abroad, the campaign has a distinctively Czech flavour. Great credit for the work of the CČČD goes to dozens of volunteers acting as regional coordinators, who disseminate the campaign’s ideas to all corners of the CR. More than 80 well known personalities have actively joined the campaign, including the Havels, Michal Horáček, Barbora Špotáková and Jaromír Nohavice. So far most of the nurseries, schools and libraries involved in the campaign are located in the regions of Central Bohemia and Moravian Silesia. Finalists of the Entrepreneur of the Year 2012 in the Czech Republic: Finalist Lubomír Stoklásek, AGROSTROJ Pelhřimov, a.s. Lubomír Stoklásek began doing business in 1992 and now owns six firms. He joined Agrostroj Pelhřimov, one of the oldest engineering firms in Europe producing agricultural technology, in 1997, when he won a tender for the purchase of a majority interest. Under his management the company underwent restructuring, turnover increased by hundreds of percent, and the firm became of the leading employers in the Vysočina region. Agrostroj Pelhřimov is the most important producer of agricultural technology in the CR and the largest universal subcontractors in Europe. Its production programme comprises its own finished machines, the manufacture of tools, and almost 90 percent of the delivery of machines and assembly units within the framework of cooperation with important supranational companies such as Claas, John Deere, Krone, DAF, Scania, Volvo, etc. At present the firm supplies 36 plants around the world and exports make up 98 %. Lubomír believes that, apart from knowhow, employees are the key. As he says, anyone with money can buy technology. However, the most valuable assets are reliable, technically educated people, of whom there are still too few on the market. He offers opportunities to young people and trains his employees himself. Lubomír is actively involved in educational issues. He recharges his batteries by playing golf, yachting and scuba diving. Finalist Remon Leonard Vos, CTP Invest, spol. s r.o. Remon L. Vos’s father and grandfather were also business men, though not in the sphere of real estate. Remon always reflected on the fact that they had to work year in, year out, in order to support themselves. What attracted him to real estate was the fact that you accumulate a certain portfolio, provide yourself with a long-term income, and create value for the future. A native Dutchman, Remon had been attracted by the CR since secondary school. When he visited the country for the first time at the start of the nineties, he realised immediately that there were a host of opportunities for him, and so began working as broker between Czech and Dutch firms. Later he founded CTP spol. s r.o., and these days his company is the leading developer on the commercial real estate market. He runs the largest network of industrial parks, as well as building office blocks. He owns more than 200 buildings and has around 400 tenants. The company is still growing and its value has doubled since 2007. However, Remon regards people as the most important asset. Since commencing his activities he has spread the good name of our towns and regions during his trips to customers abroad. Recently, for instance, he travelled with representatives of the City of Brno to the USA to introduce Brno as the ideal location for a high-tech company. He acquires energy from successful deals. He spends his free time with his family and mountain bike riding. Finalist and Entrepreneur of the Year 2012 for Prague and Central Bohemia Zdeněk Pelc, GZ Digital Media, a.s. Little did he suspect when Zdeněk Pelc started work for Gramofonové závody that he would be the longest serving manager in one function in the CR. These days his firm is no. 1 in the production of vinyl discs and one of the most important firms in its sphere. It is involved not only in the reproduction of audio and visual recordings and software, but in extensive polygraphic production, and specialises in complete, more expensive products backed up by top class service and distribution. The firm’s customors include Universal Music, EMI, Sony Music, BlackBerry, Samsung, Symantec, LG and IKEA. However, not everything went smoothly. After the wild period of privatisation investors brought security to the firm, headed by Kenneth D. Brody, former president of the Export-Import Bank of the US and a partner at Goldman, Sachs & Co., who remains a business model for Zdeněk. The investment paid off and was 14.5 times higher when returned to investors nine years later. According to Zdeněk success resides in the art of being able to adapt to market conditions, motivate employees, and innovate. In 2011, on the 60th anniversary of the production of the first black disk, the firm constructed a new logistics centre. Zdeněk is planning to withdraw from day-to-day management in the future and focus more on strategy. He does not have much free time, and so what he does have he spends with his children. Finalist and Entrepreneur of the Year 2012 Moravia Silesian region Mieczyslaw Molenda, GASCONTROL, společnost s r.o. Mieczyslaw Molenda did not originally set out to do business, though these days he has no regrets. Though he was satisfied working for a Czech-Danish company, when the company started laying off people, he and his colleagues left and in 1992 set up Gascontrol. The firm expanded thanks to the demand at that time for regulatory gas stations. These days it is the leading Czech producer and supplier of technology in the sphere of energy, engineering and construction, and employees around 1,000 people. It specialises in research, production, and the assembly and servicing of equipment for the gas, energy and water industries. It provides its services to small consumers and businesses, distributors and municipalities. Gascontrol is expanding its network of CNG filling stations around the whole of the CR at petrol stations. Mieczyslaw sees potential for further development in energy and CNG, and his vision is to enter the management of energy in the CR and abroad. The company does business in Poland, Slovakia, Ukraine, the Baltic States and Russia. Mieczyslaw believes that research and innovation is fundamental, and so at Gascontrol they run a “Research centre for energy and plastics” and cooperate with universities and research centres in the CR and Europe. Mieczyslaw’s model is Tomáš Baťa. He recharges his batteries with his family and grandchildren, and enjoys relaxing in the mountains or with a good book. Finalist and Entrepreneur of the Year 2012 Hradec Králové region Josef Novák, VEBA, textilní závody a.s. Josef Novák has been loyal to his company VEBA all his life. He joined the firm in 1978 as a marketing clerk and by 1992 had made his way up the career ladder to be chief executive and chairman of the Board of Directors. VEBA is part of a long tradition of textile production in Broumov stretching back to the 13th century. It is an important employer in the region, and since it is located in a protected region lays great emphasis on an ecological approach to production. Its owner is pleased that it withstood the wild phase of privatisation and challenges faced by foreign competitors. These days VEBA is one of the most important producers of patterned cotton textiles in Europe. The company focuses on the production of clothing and household ranges, 90 % of which is intended for export to Western Africa and Europe. The company is at present the largest Czech textile manufacturer in traditional production and the largest producer of African brocades in the world. It cooperates with top class designers in the Czech Republic and abroad. VEBA developed specially modified brocade from the most subtly combed yarns from Egyptian fabrics exclusively for Africa. Josef would like to export to other African and Muslim countries, and the company is planning investment in new technology for this purpose. He relaxes with his family, doing sport and driving his car. Judging panel prize 2012: Zuzana Ceralová Petrofová, PETROF, spol. s r.o. PETROF, the world renowned factory for the production of grand and upright pianos, represents the family silver of the Czech Republic. The factory was established in 1864 by the carpenter Antonín Petrof and is at present being led by the fifth generation of his family. In 1948 the family was confiscated and after the revolution the family had to take on debt into order to regain it. When Zuzana Ceralová Petrofová joined the company, she encountered a socialist behemoth manufacturing mass produced pianos. She moved from the PR department to the highest position and decided to return its world reputation to the firm. However, this was no easy matter. As Asian competitors rapidly gained ground, 2004 was a year during which the company fought for survival. The economic crisis of 2009 also required decisive interventions. Zuzana had to take many unpopular but essential decisions, including the laying off of hundreds of employees. However, she saved the firm. The first lady of PETROF sees the future as involving the production of expensive, top quality instruments. The popularity of the magnificent sound of a PETROF is growing, especially in Russia, Japan, China and Australia. Next year the company celebrates its 150th anniversary. It will mark the occasion with a grand piano featuring the name of its founder, Antonín Petrof, which will be the production flagship and the price of which will exceed by hundreds of thousands of crowns that of the company’s most expenses piano to date, which sells for almost CZK 2 million. Best business story, MFDnes and iDNES.cz readers’ prize: Helena Bednářová, Centrin CZ s.r.o. Helena Bednářová decided to devote herself to the sphere of social services on the basis of negative experiences with the care provided her grandparents in an institution for those with long-term illnesses and an old people’s home. She also learned not to be indifferent to the needs of others when looking after a young boy being fostered by her parents. In 2007 she founded Centrin CZ, a private organisation providing long- and short-term residential social services to senior citizens. She took out a loan and bought her first property in Zruč nad Sázavou, and her parents sold land in order to help her start up. The number of clients rose on the basis of good references, and the company opened up new premises in Prague. In the meantime Helena studied social work and psychotherapy at university and in 2011 opened a third residential care centre in Unhošť near Kladno. The centre includes an old people’s home, a home specially designed for people suffering Alzeheimer’s disease and various forms of dementia, and a respite service. These days the young businesswoman employees 200 hundred people and almost 300 senior citizens live in her three homes. She is proud of her employee collective, which has helped her create a home for clients where they can happily spend the autumn of their lives. Attachment 3 Regional winners Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year 2012 North Moravia region Pavel Sobotka, Frentech Aerospace s.r.o. Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year 2012 Pilsen region Zdeněk Blažek, REPLAST holding, spol. s r.o. Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year 2012 Moravian Silesian region Mieczyslaw Molenda, GASCONTROL, společnosti s r.o. Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year 2012 Olomouc region Josef Žáček, Česko-slezská výrobní, a.s. Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year 2012 Hradec Králové region Josef Novák, VEBA, textilní závody a.s. Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year 2012 Prague and Central Bohemia Zdeněk Pelc, GZ Digital Media, a.s. Profiles Entrepreneur of the Year 2012 Olomouc region Josef Žáček, Česko-slezská výrobní, a.s. Josef Žáček’s father came to Zlaté Hory in 1945. He began doing business and passed on his love of work to his son. Before the successful family business was nationalised, the son had learned a lot from his father about metals and people. After 1989 Josef Žáček left his managerial position at Geologický průzkum and in 1993 founded the company Česko-slezská with his partners. The company began by manufacturing containers for municipal garbage. It was successful and two years later bought up the indebted engineering firm Geologický průzkum. Cooperation with the Austrian firm Containex resulted in a fundamental change to the ownership of the firm, but this difficult decision proved to be the right one. These days Českoslezská výrobní manufactures residential and sanitary containers and buildings from container modules for the whole world that are used not only on building sites but during sports events, for charity organisations, and are even used for housing nurseries. The company is able to create space simply, immediately and anywhere. Josef Žáček believes in investing in innovation, for instance in new paint lines. However, he is convinced that the most important investment is in people. This year the firm celebrates its 20th anniversary and its owner is justifiably proud of it. He would not change a thing, save perhaps if he had been able to start doing business earlier. Both his sons work for the company and after work they all enjoy hunting and bee-keeping. Entrepreneur of the Year 2012 North Moravia region Pavel Sobotka, Frentech Aerospace s.r.o. Pavel Sobotka began doing business after leaving Tesla Brno, where he trained as a metal lathe operator and subsequently produced electron microscopes. Along with an emigrant living in Germany, after the revolution he launched the production of automatic parking systems, but later sold the firm. He founded the now 100 % Czech Frentech Aerospace in 1994 with Dutch partners, focusing on medical technology and micro-electronics. These days Frentech Aerospace is known around the world as a supplier of precision mechanisms for the aviation and aerospace industry. To begin with Pavel rejected an offer from Airbus that would have meant entering this sphere, but eventually delivered parts for USD 170. These days there is no Airbus aeroplane that does not feature the firm’s parts. He gradually began to deliver components for telecommunications satellites and participate on projects being implemented by the European Space Agency. He also supplied special mirrors for huge antennas in the Atacama Desert in Chile. Frentech Aerospace is a member of the Czech Space Alliance and last year won the largest ever commercial contract in the sphere of space technology in the history of the CR (by participating in the project IRIDIUM NEXT). Pavel believes in responsibility, diligence and social awareness. He is involved in the fight against cancer, clears his head by driving fast, and his hobbies include music, painting and cookery. Entrepreneur of the Year 2012 Pilsen region Zdeněk Blažek, REPLAST holding, spol. s r.o. After the revolution Zdeněk Blažek was set the task of liquidating unnecessary stocks from buildings that had been returned to their original owners. Via an advertisement in the Economic Chamber in Regensburg he was contacted by his future partner, who owned a recycling and garbage disposal company in Germany. This meeting was a turning point for Zdeněk Blažek, since together they established the companies REPLAST PRODUKT and RECYKLO in the CR, which later became part of the REPLAST holding. His former partner transferred his share in the firms to Blažek, who is now the sole owner. The group of firms is involved in the processing and recycling of electrical cables, electronic waste, and the waste from iron, coloured and precious metals. In the sphere of plastics he specialises in the production of a range of products made from PVC insulation cable. The product range includes more than 80 kinds of products, e.g. floorboards for use in agriculture, industry or sports stadia, transport signage components, cable bridges, and covers for conduits and cisterns. Annually the firm sells more than 80 % of its production abroad. Zdeněk Blažek and his company have won many awards. As a former national volleyball player he most enjoys relaxing by playing this sport.