In September 1919, works started on the construction of the first workshops of the arms factory originally called “South Bohemian Armament Works” (“Jihočeská zbrojovka”). The company merged with an arms manufacturing plant in Vejprty and with a factory in Prague in 1922. This gave birth to the constitution of a stock company under the name of “Czech Armament Works in Prague of the Manufacturing Plant in Strakonice". The produced pistols and air guns, and automatic guns later on, these all became successful trade items.
It was not until 1929 when the growth of the Czech Armament Works came to a turning point by acquiring a bicycle parts manufacturing plant in Kralupy on the Vltava River. Bicycles and their parts exports destined to several countries in Europe, Asia, Africa and South America started to expand. Not even the economic crisis that was breaking out could bring the company’s development to a halt. Series production of motor-driven bicycles started in 1932. Three years later, the first motorcycles made in Strakonice entered the market. This marked the beginning of a famous era of the production under the ČZ brand. In a short time, the company has become the biggest manufacturer of single-track vehicles in Czechoslovakia. Consequently, success in terms of business resulted in a further extension of production activities by introducing chains and machine tools production. Only the war and the conversion to the wartime manufacturing interrupted the development of the Czech Armament Works.
Like most large industrial enterprises, this stock company was nationalized in 1946. Due to the post-war political situation, arms production in the Strakonice plant was then closed down.
Motorcycle development and their production as well as drivers’ achievements in sports in fifties and sixties of the last century enabled the advance of the ČZ brand among the world’s most successful makers of sport and passenger motorcycles. Growing needs for motorcycle production led to the construction of a proper grey-iron and aluminium pressure castings foundry.
With motorcycle production slumping in the eighties, the company changed and started focusing on manufacturing car components - gearboxes and turbofans, besides its traditional production of chains, tools, moulds, castings and machine tools.
The following years meant not only many changes in the company structure and production area, but these years also brought the company transformation converting it into a stock company in 1991.
In 1993, the company was privatised by the voucher method and shares passed over into the hands of natural and legal entities.
During this period of the market economy development, the stock company went through the process of restructuring, as a reaction to the requirements for adaptability and flexibility. A whole range of activities in the management area was decentralized. New divisions with a high degree of economic independence and limited liability companies were created based on product aspects. Focus on needs of the automobile industry was intensified.
By acquiring a considerable share in stock companies such as KLIMA and VÚOSO and DESTA in Děčín, the company has incorporated supplementary technological capacities and also brought a desirable diversification of the production programme.
At present, thanks to its turnover, the ČZ Group ranks among the largest mechanical engineering firms in the Czech Republic. It is also a leading exports company, selling to Germany, France, Great Britain, Slovakia, China, Russia and other countries. The company’s stock capital amounts to 1,76 billion Czech crowns. Targeting the needs of the automobile industry is connected with the requirement for top-level quality – the company has been awarded certification according to ISO standards 9000 and VDA 6.1. Series. Environmental issues are in the focus of great efforts of the company, which also invests considerable sums of money in this area. Introduction of an environmental management system (EMS) was initiated according to the international standard ISO 14001 and the company has also defined its environmental policy.
Over the whole period of time since the privatisation – thanks mainly to the attention paid by the company management – the financial stability of the company has been growing further on. A good management combined with corresponding creation of resources enabled the company to invest more than two billion Czech crowns into modern technologies and reconstruction of its buildings during this period. Systematic development of commercial activities resulted in the awards of important contracts for the supply of turbofans and other products bearing the ČZ brand destined for national and overseas markets. The production range at ČZ has been supplemented by the production of high lift trucks with the traditional DESTA brand. With the aim of high lift trucks sales promotion, a new firm, JZA, a.s., Prague, has been established. ČZ is the only shareholder of JZA.
The strategic objective of ČZ is to achieve a wide interlinking with the supplier chains of the large multinational companies active in the automobile industry. The company disposes of complex technological capacities on a very good level and implements a quality control system in conformity with international standards. At the same time, the company has been introducing an environmental management system.
ČZ has developed ambitions to become a modern mechanical engineering company focused on customer’s needs, capable to co-operate and comply with customers from the product development stage. ČZ’s objective is to develop priority lines of products and services with a higher added value and to focus on delivering products with a higher processing level. The company’s status as a dependable trade partner is based, among others, on the existence of consolidated proprietary relations, where the whole of one hundred per cent of the stock capital remains in private hands. The existing ownership concentration constitutes therefore a prerequisite for an effective and highly efficient management.