CEO: We're not experienced in overcoming crises

CzechNews
18. 5. 2009 6:00
Pavel Juříček talks to Aktuálně.cz
Pavel Juříček
Pavel Juříček | Foto: Ondřej Besperát, Aktuálně.cz

Prague - "The way Czech managers behave in times of crisis is often immoral," Brano Group CEO and owner Pavel Juříček said in the second part of an interview with Aktuálně.cz.

Brano manufactures car components, so the current economic recession has hit the company hard. Juříček's response, so far unique in the Czech Republic, was to start paying himself the minimum wage as of late January.

He admitted in the first part of the interview that he did not know how long he would pay himself that wage. He has decided to apply this policy until the crisis is over.

How do Czech managers behave during the crisis? What could be improved?

I cannot generalise, but my experience from the auto sector is positive. The information I have from other sectors is rather what I have learnt from the media. And if they are telling the truth, then I think the way managers behave is often immoral.

It probably also has to do with the place where we live, where even politicians often say that reducing their wages would be just a populist step and who would then do the jobs. And that the good ones would leave and so on. No, the good ones will not leave. The good ones will show their true nature and whether it's themselves what they have in mind or whether it's their company.

It requires a "certain degree of culture".

What do you mean?

Who thinks well of his company, he can always tighten his belt in such crisis situations. There is a shortage of a certain degree of culture also in our society, and of an experience with overcoming crises. That is why managers do not react spontaneously and rather wait for what would be the public opinion. If there is any at all. But it is definitely impossible to take a global approach to this, any intervention from above would not work.

Pavel Juříček won the prestigious title Entrepreneur of 2006
Pavel Juříček won the prestigious title Entrepreneur of 2006 | Foto: Ondřej Besperát, Aktuálně.cz

And how do you think the unions and politicians are dealing with the crisis?

Politicians bear part of the responsibility for the situation and should serve as an example. All not-so-popular steps, such as budget cuts, would be easier to defend. If they don't do that, the society's mood will not improve. with regards to unions, I cannot judge, but my experience again is rather positive, and I know they would accommodate the trend.

What has been discussed recently a lot is how companies are being hit by secondary insolvency.

Does Brano Group have any experience with it? Can you give any example?

Yes, the payment discipline is worse in car producers as well. And what is surprising that those in trouble pay better that those that are officially well off. We also have more overdue claims than we had a year ago. But the auto industry is much more serious about its liabilities than other sectors.

Pavel Juříček has been at the helm of Brano for 13 years. As a minority owner, he first had to fight for the company with investment funds that, he says, siphoned money off the firm. Since that time, the company has increased sales ten times, established a network of own plants in the Czech Republic, and acquired businesses in Germany and Russia.

At present, however, Brano is a typical "victim" of a the fall in demand for new cars. The company supplies the biggest car manufacturers for instance with hand brakes, pedal systems and door closing devices. Last year, production at Brano dropped by 30% and employees had to stay at home from 22 December to 5 January.

 

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