Source: Forbes Date: 29.09.2023 Author: Adéla Očenášková

"On the left, you can see the rest of the Vítkovice Heavy Machinery building," says Richard Toman, as we approach the headquarters of Vítkovické železniční opravny and Vítkovická doprava along the siding.

The local wagon business of industrialist Jaroslav Strnad, of which Toman is the head, is thriving. This contrasts the now defunct Vítkovice Heavy Machinery, which was sent into bankruptcy by a court three years ago and which Strnad also tried to reorganize.

However, Strnad's Vítkovice empire is still functioning. His industrial holding CE Industries also includes the Vítkovice, as mentioned earlier, Vítkovické železniční opravny  and Vítkovická doprava. The group is not linked to the Czechoslovak Group, which Strnad transferred to his son Michal five years ago.

VŽO was established five years ago and specializes in repairing railway carriages. The company's revenues have been growing year on year. While in the first year of its existence, it repaired 155 carriages and made CZK 12 million, last year, it repaired 870 carriages and made CZK 306 million in sales.

The most important clients include Ermewa, VTG, ČD Cargo, EP Cargo Invest, V.K.S., Ryko Plus, and PKP Cargo.

"In five years, we have built a thriving and stable business from a start-up," says Daniel Marek, managing director of VŽO, who believes that the industry benefits from the times.

"The volume of rail transport in Central and Eastern Europe is growing by twelve to thirty percent every five years. In addition, the European Union aims to increase the share of rail freight transport to thirty percent by 2030, at the expense of road freight transport."

The company shares the site with Vítkovická doprava, a rail transport company. CE Industries also includes the Croatian engineering company Duro Dakovic, which manufactures freight wagons.
"There are 700,000 freight wagons in operation in Europe today. In 2030, there will be as many. There is a huge potential for Vítkovice Railway Repair Works and our entire railway division, including the Croatian manufacturer Duro Dakovic," says Jiří Rabiec, CFO of CE Industries and member of its Board of Directors.

The company, which started with twelve employees and today employs around one hundred and fifty, plans to grow two to two and a half times, which is no longer possible in the local premises.

"We started in 2018, but the growth has been so fast and steep that the space limits us, and we cannot expand further. The project has been more successful than we anticipated initially," Toman says. According to him, the possibility of an acquisition may also be on the table.