From the Beskids to
Wide World of
In 1994, in the Wallachian town of Rožnov pod Radhoštěm,
five young entrepreneurs partnered together and founded
the Czech enterprise Retigo s.r.o. The company is still in
Czech hands and employs 210 people. It is one of the last
independent producers of convection ovens in the world
who specialises in steam convection ovens, focusing on
outstanding quality for a good price. The company is a just
and proud winner of Vodafone award “Company of the
Year” (Firma roku) 2018. We asked company executives
Libor Pavelka and Václav Miller for an interview to explain
how an upstart Wallachian startup conquered the world.
The Beskid Mountains and this region of Wallachia
represent hard-working people. What inspired you to
join up and start a business together?
Pavelka: The story of Retigo s.r.o. began at Tesla
Rožnov in the early 1990s when we were thinking of
running a business together. We wanted to cash in on
our experience in the electrotechnical industry, and we
considered the production of gastronomic equipment
very attractive. We expected a great development in
services. When we learned more about steam convection
ovens, the decision was made. We made our first piece in
an improvised workshop in a garage.
First, we ran the business as a part time job after work,
with only limited capital from our joint savings. I want
to make clear that our company was not founded by
the privatisation of a state-governed factory, and we
have never had any investor. That made the first steps
very adventurous. Each of us brought something very
particular into our business: one was a specialist in
machinery development, another in electronics, another
in economics, marketing, and sales.
Your steam convection ovens are used in school
canteens as well as famous restaurants in our country
and abroad. How do you manage to design and improve
affordable products of such exclusive quality?
Miller: The principle of a steam convection oven, its
multifunctionality and range, came from Germany in the
late 1970s. The first steam convection ovens in the Czech
Republic became usual only after the fall of socialism
in 1989, firstly because international imports became
possible, and secondly because our company, Retigo
s.r.o., started production. Everybody has some kind of
inspiration in their beginnings, and we were inspired by
German products. In our own ways, we started developing
similar technology. This approach has proved successful.
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Our first oven was controlled by a microprocessor; we
have not made a single oven with keys or buttons. Each
generation of our convection ovens has brought some
novelty or innovation. Today, the sixth generation is being
produced. Our innovations include a touch screen (we
were the first to introduce it as the control panel with
convection ovens), an original way to use waste heat to
reduce energy consumption, and the special shape of door
glazing, which is a designer piece that functions efficiently.
We have our own research and development centre which
incorporates customer demands (based on feedback
from the service and sales departments) in the hardware
or software of our products. The quality of our products is
based on the materials used, on the precision of how they
work, and on the final assembly of each convection oven.
The final inspection and thorough burn-in of all products is
our company’s are standard and reassurance that a faulty
product will never ever leave the plant.
One thing must not be neglected: without good
employees, good decisions a good strategy, nothing of
what we are proud of would be possible. Anybody who
excels in their field or business must first and foremost be