Pesa Bydgoszcz is a key player in the Polish railways scene, having grown from a maintenance and repair operation 160 years ago, to a modern, internationally recognised brand, manufacturing a range of top-end trains and trams culminating in their flagship model, the Pesa Dart train.
We are covering in three parts the PESA’s uniqueness on domestic and international markets by describing their way to achieving an incredible success.
The first part describes historical facts about the company, their first repairs, renovations and groundbreaking moments. The political systems have changed since 1851, it’s been a long road to transform it from being state-owned to privately owned, and the key to success was to follow the market and its needs. PESA’s success is the best example of how to go from rags to riches.
The history of PESA Bydgoszcz starts with the first railway line, which was built in Bydgoszcz in 1851. At the time the main railway station was built, East Railway Repair Workshop (Warsztaty Naprawcze Wschodniej Kolei) was established, which today constitutes PESA Bydgoszcz. The company covered an area of 1ha and employed one foreman and 20 workers.
First things they did were repairs and renovations of broken trains. The city of Bydgoszcz was under the Prussian annexation, so in fact the company was not Polish until 1920. The company changed its name in 1950 to Rolling Stock Repair Plant (Zakłady Naprawcze Taboru Kolejowego), but still remained state-owned because Poland was under the Polish People’s Republic political system. This system did not allow anyone to become an entrepreneur, the companies which were created were all state-owned.
More things they did after 1989, which was the time of political transformation in Poland and the country’s democratisation. These also included enormous changes for Polish economics and entreprises. Furthermore, in 2001 PESA got privatised and was bought by its former employees. They decided to make a change – to start manufacturing new trains and trams instead of only repairing old ones.
– Michał Żurowski, PESA’s press spokesman, told us a story about how the workers invested their money to get the company privatised after the political transformation in the 1990s.
In the late 1990s, the former workers of PESA took mortgages and made the company privately-owned. Nobody believed that the company would succeed, those people went through a tough time. Now PESA, as the only company from Bydgoszcz, was ranked in the largest Polish companies index.
2001 was a groundbreaking year because the first railbus (Partner) was released for the city of Elbląg. Later on, trams and trains were created on the basis of construction of the Partner. The same year the company name was changed to Rail Vehicles PESA Bydgoszcz Pojazdy Szynowe PESA Bydgoszcz.
In 2004 PESA reached the international markets. They produced the first diesel units for the Ukrainian State Railways. 2006 was the year of an enormous order for Italian Ferrovie del Sud Est – 27 diesel units for the local traffic in southern Italy.
The company’s success is a 3-step recipe. The production of new trains, investing in the development of the company, flexibility in the market and products are the key points. PESA showed Poland that it’s possible to run a successful business in the railway industry.
They sell products that cost millions of zlotys, every order has to be created in detail to fully satisfy the customer. The company can be compared to a tailor shop, the marketing people always know the latest and future trends. Double-decker trains are the following year’s trend, we can expect that PESA is going to release them in 2016.
– Michał Żurowski told us how PESA Bydgoszcz had managed to avoid the global recession in 2009.
In 2009, future echoes of the global recession reached the world, less and less orders from Polish Railway Services PKP were placed. PESA found another source of income, they started to sell trains to Italy, and as a result they saved half of their annual income. Surprisingly, the difficult year 2009 turned out to have been quite successful.
PESA is compared to a small city within a big metropolitan area of Bydgoszcz. Nobody expected such a success, since 1851 the number of employees has increased from 21 to 5000 people. PESA is still focused on development and does not want their pace to be slowed down.
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