EXIDE Technologies S.A. - former Centra S.A. based in Poznań, celebrates this year its centenary of existence. There are very few companies in Poland, which can boast such a worthy jubilee, what’s more, celebrate it as a company with strong market position and in good financial condition. Therefore, the company has made every effort to appropriately commemorate this special anniversary. Specially created mark of the century, the film presenting the history of the company since its inception, promotional publications, albums, concerts, events for employees and business partners: these are only some elements of the celebration of the centenary of the company, praised throughout the jubilee year. The culmination of the celebration was the gala, which took place on the 24th of September 2010, at the Auditorium of Adam Mickiewicz University in Poznań. The anniversary gala was attended by over 200 guests from Poland and abroad, including managers and directors of the company from the U.S. and Western Europe, representatives of the city of Poznań, Poznań District, and the Parliament of the region of Wielkopolska. There was also a wide range of cooperating companies and business partners. The special evening gala was a very interesting trip in the past, but also a starting point into an exciting future.
And how looked the beginnings of the company’s history?
Although the history of the company was tough, which was a subject of various transformations, had to adapt to, changing as in kaleidoscope, geopolitical circumstances, it still survived two world wars, financial crises, the rise and fall of Communism in Poland, as well as times of privatization and commercialization. Practically since its inception, the company occupies a leading position on the batteries market, not only in Poland, but also in the Central – Eastern Europe. There were many important moments in the long history of the company, but all began in 1910, thanks to Andrzej Kaczmarek, Polish entrepreneur, of whose initiative a small battery factory was established in Berlin. In 1919, after the end of World War I and regaining its independence by Poland, the factory was moved to Poznań, where it remains until today. Rapidly expanding company has not stopped developing and in 1925 started selling first products, under well – known brand CENTRA. This decision, as it turned out, was a breakthrough for the fate of the company, for which CENTRA batteries are main products now, building, thanks to their quality, an excellent image of the organization. In 1953, the factory in Poznań, as the first in Poland, implements the production of plate batteries, supporting the emerging electronic and radio industry in our country, and therefore achieving a strong competitive position in 1970, thanks to a merger with Poznańskie Zakłady Elektroniczne ALCO under the banner of the Zjednoczone Zakłady Elektrochemiczne CENTRA. In the 1970’s the company begins the production of starter batteries and the effects of this decision are truly fruitful - thanks to it, the famous Fiat joins the group of company’s business partners. After the fall of Communism, CENTRA in 1993 converted into one – man company of the Treasury – Centra S.A. in Poznań, and a year later is completely privatized: 75% of the shares was obtained by the French CEAC, which in 1995 was bought itself by a powerful US company Exide Corporation. Centra S.A. has became a part of a concern being a world leader on battery market. In 2008 the name of the company was transformed into Exide Technologies S.A. - being still the producer of Centra and Exide batteries - the well recognised brands in Central - Eastern Europe.
“Veni, vidi, vici”
One could write many volumes, considering the reasons for the success of the company that builds its reputation for a hundred years. How to correctly identify the key decisions, solutions, implemented by the company’s managers in such a long period of time? Age of the organization almost exactly coincides with the development of the theory of management, and even creation of the term “management” itself! I personally believe that, analyzing the history of EXIDE Technologies S.A., we can speak of “effective evolution” and to subordinate to that term all of the actions of the company, which promote its deve-lopment. No organization in the world is free from errors, and the true measure of the company’s value is the way it raises after a defeat. During a hundred years of existence, the company’s authorities changed many times, yet the organization is growing continuously. There must be at least dozens of factors that make up this state of affairs, still, let’s try to find those most directly responsible for the construction of a strong position of EXIDE Technologies S.A. Each company is as strong as its weakest link. This link won’t be definitely EXIDE’s employees, which is proven by the developed policy of human potential management, implemented by the company. Investment in employees, their competencies and capabilities are the most important element in the functioning of the company. Training plans, individual analysis of the strengths and weaknesses of each employee, responsible hiring strategy, various motivation systems, the implementation of CSR in the form of support of different initiatives of the company’s employees: all these factors result in a very high level of work efficiency in the organization and employees themselves are provided with full safety and comfort of working conditions, also in the non – financial dimension. The weakest link of the company’s activity is definitely not the quality of offered products. Centra and Exide batteries are ones of the most popular devices of its type in the Central – Eastern Europe, product range is very extensive (includes batteries designed for different types of vehicles). Maintaining the highest quality of products is guaranteed by the prestigious certificates considering the Quality Management System and, approved by the company, Environmental Policy in the area of all activities related to the ecological aspect of the organization’s activity. These systems, in accordance with, inter alia, ISO 9001:2008 and ISO 14001:2005 norms, are tangible evidences that EXIDE Technologies S.A. strives to meet all needs of, the most valuable for the company, customers, which results in the beginning of cooperation with another, excellent business partners: just a few months ago the company began deliveries to Volkswagen Poznań. The support of Exide in terms of maintaining highest standards of production management, customer support, implementing latest technologies, the development of international sales network, is another invaluable capital of the company, which effective utility helps the company to dynamically develop. Over one hundred years of experience of the American concern results in the ability to draw appropriate conclusions and correct response to all signals from the market – an extremely valuable capability, especially in times of financial crisis and strong competition in the industry. Relevant investment, well – defined lines of developments, consistently implemented company’s expansion plan: these and other factors directly related to the issue of contemporary business management, cause EXIDE Technologies S.A. to be on the rising curve. The elements mentioned above are but just a drop in the sea. One could write a lot about the shape of the structure of the organization, marketing activity, technological basis and many other, strongly influencing optimal functioning of the company. It is worth to realize though, that in such a powerful company as EXIDE, the overall commercial success corresponds to a set of mutually complementary solutions, covering all aspects of activity of a modern enterprise, and effective maintaining of the state of synergy between various departments within the organization, recognizing of customer needs and continuously improving the quality of both products and processes: all these elements build the company’s strength, through which EXIDE Technologies S.A. has the opportunity to retain the position of industry leader for the next hundred years.
Written by Jacek Głowacki