“The former workers worked with unheard diligence and commitment, if they needed to, they used a shovel and a wheelbarrow, if they needed to, they used a mason’s spoon or planer, a knife, or a ‘Samu hammer’.” – this is how István Cs. Horváth, one of the legendary leaders of PEMÜ, remembered the years of the start-up in PEMÜ News in May 1979 on the occasion of its 20th anniversary.
“25 years ago, the history of our company began in two small workshops under rudimentary circumstances. Anyone who saw these tiny workshops at the time might not have dreamed that from this in a decade or two a modern, nationally renowned company, with several factory units would be born and developed. “- PEMÜ News December 1983.
PEMÜ News in its jubilee greeting “we are 20 years old”, marked the period between 1966 and 1969 as the initial period of dynamic development. The expansion of shoe production and the introduction of additional technologies, including the launch of extrusion, can be attributed to this period. Typically for the period, the company also took part in the May parades organized jointly with the village. The stories that have become legendary can also be linked to the brigade movement for this period, which continued to characterize the community in the years that followed.
In the 1970s and 1975s, a whole range of modern production equipment and new technologies appeared in PEMÜ, olefin tube production, PTFE and silicone processing began, new materials and technologies entered the production of shoe products (platt-form, Siesta- inserts, lacquered shoe heel production, etc.). During these years, the production of Singer fittings and various pipe fittings, soft foam inserts for the upholstery industry began, and during this period, the production of road marker columns and plastic buckets also took place.
Production took place with PRESMA and Rotomix injection moulding machines and POLYER polyurethane foaming machines from the 1970s, but the tooling factory and the extruder factory were also built in Solymár during this period. From the 1970s onwards, the organization of the legendary holidays during the summer began at PEMÜ. Over the years, the holiday properties in Agárd, Balatonföldvár, Fonyód, Balatonederics were rebuilt and renovated with the cooperation of the employees, but it was also possible to use rented holiday homes in Hajdúszoboszló, Tiszakécske and Börzsöny.
During these years, the legendary PEMÜ library opened its doors.
In the second half of the 1970s, CEO reports at workers’ assemblies were regular at the beginning of the year. In addition to the Solymár site, these years were characterized by the intensive development of the Budapest, Zsámbék and Cegléd sites, but international cooperation was also strengthened during this period. In addition to the CMEA countries, strategic co-operations have also been established with large companies in the FRG. The expansion of international relations led to the company being the first in the country to establish two foreign-owned joint ventures in the country, Kemipur in Solymár and Qualiplastik in Zsámbék. During this period, the PEMÜ Fishing Association and the Chess Department were already operating.
In the following years, the company pioneered extensive international relations with companies operating in Western Europe.
It was the first in Hungary to establish a joint venture with the German company BASF and Chemolimpex, called Kemipur. The launch of automotive deliveries in cooperation with the German company TEVES can be linked to this era.
Shoe production, which is decisive in the life of the company, has also reached an international level through a contract with PUMA. It was an exciting and challenging period in the life of PEMÜ, preparing the company for the regime change of the 1990s.
In the democratic parliamentary elections of March 1990, the one-party system was replaced by a multi-party system. The Socio-economic changes have fundamentally changed the lives not only of people, but also of companies operating in Hungary. They had to learn new concepts such as privatization, unemployment, market competition, the direct emergence of international financial and economic effects.
This period can also be characterized as a period of path-finding in PEMÜ, the next decade was determined by the implementation of the employee co-ownership program and the repayment of the high debt service undertaken in the previous period.
The automotive supplier activity is becoming dominant in PEMÜ’s activities, while the footwear industry is still dominant. The joint ventures established at that time and Suzuki settling in Hungary played a major role in the implementation of automotive supplies.
This period was marked by the crisis in the light industry, which posed tough challenges for PEMÜ.
The Shoe Industry Division of PEMÜ was organized with up-to-date knowledge, international production and quality experience in Cegléd, however, in the changed market conditions, there was no chance of reserving capacities. The crisis in the footwear industry, which accounts for almost half of sales, has threatened to sweep away the business.
The plastics industry, which accounts for the other half of sales, operated in Solymár and Zsámbék with outdated machinery, fragmented organizational frameworks and uncertain market conditions. The company had a high loan portfolio and an unfunded cost structure compared to reduced sales, primarily due to high site maintenance and management costs.
The designated strategy simultaneously aimed at eliminating the capacity of the footwear industry and developing the plastics processing business. In the long run, the financing was based on real estate assets, which are mainly self-owned and not necessary for production, but in the short term on external sources.
In early 2009, it became clear that the global economic crisis was unsustainable within the financial framework and would require strong changes in the economy as a whole.
The contemporary press wrote of the initial period of the crisis: According to the European Commission, economic growth in the eurozone will almost come to a halt in 2009 as a result of the crisis. According to the IMF, the entire developed world went into recession in 2009, but economic growth in emerging countries also slowed. Meanwhile, in 2009 the Hungarian economic downturn was 6.8%.
PEMÜ has just gone through the closure of sites and managing the effects of the light industry crisis, the financial burden of which has been a major hardship for the next period. As a result of the global economic crisis, companies went bankrupt or merged to survive. It was generally typical to stop investments and developments.
In response to the crisis, PEMÜ announced a complex development program aimed at the complex renovation of obsolete machinery, dilapidated buildings and infrastructure. In parallel with technological innovation, the development of workers’ knowledge has been a key element of the strategy.