Today Barum tyres are well known car tyre products, but their origins lie in three different Czech firms: the Bata, Mitas and Rubena tyres companies. In fact, it is from these three names that the name of “Barum” is derived from.
The Barum Tyres Logo
The Bata brothers, founders of one of the most well-known footwear brands in the world, began their business adventure in a very modest fashion. Before the First World War, the brothers only employed three people. However, the onset of the war changed this and the company continued to become more successful - this included the mass production of rubber-soled shoes in 1924. This date is considered a significant point in the history of Bata, as well as the wider Barum corporation.
This success caused Bata to become more experienced with a rapidly growing rubber industry. This lead to a decision that the road transport industry would prove quicker, easier and cheaper to expand into than the rail industry and Bata subsequently started its own car fleet to help its own operations. By 1931, the firm was producing its own bicycle tyres and, just three years later, the first car tyres were produced in 1934. Due to a rapidly growing motor industry, it made clear sense to invest even further into tyre production.
One of Barum tyre’s more modern buildings.
Barum Tyres: a fusion of three
After the Second World War, a nationalisation programme was undertaken in 1945. As part of this, Bata found itself merged with two other small Czech firms producing car and bicycle tyres: Rubena and Mitas. As a collective, their name was derived from the first two letters of each firm (or just the M in the case of Mitas). This is the first time Barum appeared as a name.
One of Barum’s production facilities.
As for the Rubena tyre company, it has a history dating back to 1908, when Josef Kudrnac began producing rubber products and materials in the town of Nachod. Back then the firm was known as Kudrnac and, in 1928 it produced its first bicycle tyres, entering car tyre production a year later. In 1945, the firm changes its name to Rubena and, shortly afterwards, it became part of Barum.
As for the Mitas brand, it has a somewhat shorter history. Founded in 1933 in Zlin, it began collaborating with Bata from the start. By 1937, the Mitas factory was producing three hundred car tyres, as well as over one hundred bicycle tyres, on a daily basis. During the war, the company was taken over by the Germans but, in 1945, it was nationalised and merged with both Bata and Rubena.
Moving to Otrokovice
The newly created Barum enterprise had the production capacity of its three merged firms, ensuring a strong position in the market. Barum tyres were sold in more than one country, including the likes of neighbouring Poland. Aside from car tyres, the company also made motorbike tyres, including specialised products for sports bikes and speedway competitions.
In 1966, Barum acquired a new factory in Otrokovice, developing a modern plant on a 5.3 hectare area of land. This facility continues to produce Barum tyres today. In 1967, the old Zlin factory began producing its first radial tyres, a great achievement at the time, before all production efforts were moved to Otrokovice.
From 1983, Barum began sponsoring the rally competition of the same name. At the time, the event was not expected to become an important part of the motorsport calendar but, today, this rally held in Zlin forms an important stage in the European championships.
Joining The Continental Group
After the fall of communism, as well the division of Czechoslovakia, western tyre companies began to heavily invest in Eastern European tyre manufacturers. Michelin tyres took over the Stomil tyre plants in Poland, while Goodyear acquired Debica tyres. The Continental tyre group, however, had its sights set on the Czech Republic. In 1992, it signed a joint venture agreement with Barum and, just a year later, formed the Barum Continental s.r.o Group of Companies, cementing the Czech group’s place among the wider Continental organisation.
Barum tyres quickly became recognised and appreciated in numerous countries.
Aside from the benefits of financial stability, as well as wider organisational support, this merger gave Barum access to the latest research and development, tyre tread designs and production technologies. During this period, Barum also extended its range to include tyres for heavy goods vehicles and agricultural machines.
Today, Barum tyres are sold to customers all over Europe, including the United Kingdom. The Otrokovice factory produces around 60,000 tyres every day, with a total of 18 million Barum tyres produced each year.
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