KARVINA, Czech Republic (April 2) - The new Shimano factory in Karvina, Czech republic's easternmost remote corner (but with reasonable road connections to the Polish harbours) must be a cultural shock for the local people. In a worn scenery with all the traces of a once-flourishing mining industry, the brand new silvertone Shimano building has something definitely surrealistic, completely out of order with the local archetype of the soot-stained rusty-iron-and-brick factory.
Inside, it must be a completely new experience for the 141-strong local workforce -the clinical cleanness of the floors, the workers' quarters, the instruction and presentation rooms, a huge (covered) bicycle tryout corridor, the factory restaurant and the 6,200 m2 workfloor. Two more production halls of comparable size will still be built. Needless to say that the Czech national and local authorities gave substantial incentives to Shimano to start this factory, which will employ a planned 800 workforce when the third phase will be completed.
At this moment, the factory activities are limited to assembly work of parts brought in from Shimano factories in Singapore and China. Planning is, that the factory will both produce parts and source these from regional suppliers. Main actual problem is that these supplying industries will have to meet Shimano's strict quality and business standards. The old Moravian land in the direct vicinity of Shimano Karvina has always known a good deal of mechanical industry, and has brought forth illustrious thinkers like Gregor Mendel and Sigmund Freud –it's by no means a feudal country. So the new factory location seems well-chosen in view of the continuous shift of the international bicycle production from west to east: some day, Shimano Karvina will be in the geographical middle of the European bike industry. (OB)