Trained plumber Zdeněk Vrchlavský started his career in the car factory in 1952. From a metalwork position, he gradually worked his way up to become chief dispatcher and have a complete overview of the carmaker’s operations.
What did your beginnings in the company look like?
As part of my tinsmith apprenticeship, I was assigned to the Autorenova Slaný company. However, after graduating from the company’s vocational school, I joined ŠKODA’s press shop, where I worked with small presses – drilling and so on. At work, I watched the real tinsmiths, who were still making fenders on jacks, pouncing them on a scale model. In 1955, I was drafted for basic military service.
Did you return to the car factory afterwards?
Yes, I started working at the welding shop and got involved in the production of the Spartak model. We worked shifts, but it was different than today. The equipment was entirely different; if anything, we only had pliers, and that was it.
How did you become a dispatcher?
In 1961, they asked us whether we wanted to go to an evening vocational school. So I went to work in the morning and to school in the afternoon. When I finished it after three years, they came to ask me whether I wanted to be a welding shop dispatcher.
What was the work about?
The dispatcher actually helped to ensure the activities were carried out. We were mainly sending servicemen to various places in case of failures. Later, I switched to the corporate dispatching service. As the main dispatchers, we worked in 24-hour shifts there. At the same time, we also received regular hourly reports on the current numbers from individual sites and passed these figures on to the management. As a result, I knew a lot of people from the entire factory. My grandson often tells me that he frequently meets people at work who remember me. I’m an old chap and a grandfather, so this always pleases me.
Did you meet other relatives at the car company?
Yes, my wife and son-in-law, and my mother-in-law sewed seats. Today, my grandson works in Assembly Logistics, which is a bit like my work.