History„Start” Company was established by Stefan Dobrowolski in 1937
Initially it focused on bicycle repairing and producing bicycle parts (the owner was a cyclist and an active member of the Warsaw Cyclist Society) and its headquarters was situated at Żelazna 58A Street. Dynamic development of the enterprise was withheld by the outbreak of the war.
Stefan Dobrowolski fought in September Campaign in 1939 and was taken captive after the fall of Modlin Stronghold. However, he managed to escape and get through to Warsaw, where he resumed his business.
Stefan Dobrowolski (on the right) in 1945, with his brother Josef and the accountant, in front of company’s office at Żelazna Street 58A
In the years of occupation the company was not only a support for Dobrowolski family (Stefan had five brothers) but also a background for underground resistance activities. All of the brothers, as well as many employees, were members of the Home Army.
Next to the official production (among other things pedicabs, acetylene lamps, bike and car pumps were at the time made), parts for ‘Sten’ machine guns for Home Army were manufactured. Other underground armories were also supplied with instrumentation needed for weapon production by ‘Start’. Prewar contractors with Jewish background have found shelter on the premises of the company. During the Warsaw Uprising buildings at Żelazna Street 58a were utterly destroyed.
One of pedicabs produced in START during the years of occupation
Stefan Dobrowolski fought in Warsaw Uprising – in the beginning in the Praga district. Then he crossed over the Vistula and fought in Sadyba district in lines of ‘Oaza’ battalion. Fortunately his family survived the Wola Massacre, while he escaped the German imprisonment. Soon after terminating warfare he returned Warsaw and embarked on rebuilding his establishment.
Postwar years were a period of rapid growth, which could be indicated by diplomas of appreciation for merchandise displayed at Poznań Exhibition. The company produced a wide range of bicycle parts, bicycle and car pumps, as well as toys. The employment has reached a level of 70 members of staff.
Wares for the Poznań Exhibition in 1947
The end of 1940s were marked by deteriorating political climate, hostile to private property. This situation imposed the company to limit its activity and reduce the employment to 21 workers. Nonetheless a nationalization of plant occurred in 1950, in violation of currently binding communist law. In three months the production was terminated and machines were transported away. Anticipating this, Stefan Dobrowolski early established a small craftsman workshop, which took over a part of ‘Start’s’ production. In this reduced form, the company remained for 30 years.
Stefan Dobrowolski during car repair, using self-made pump and wrenches. Early 1950s
In 1964 the plant was relocated to a newly built small craftsman pavilion at Jana Kazimierza 56A Street, where it remained until 2008.
In 1979 Stefan’s son, Eng. Jerzy Dobrowolski joined his fathers’ company, bringing not only zeal and energy, but also knowledge and experience of many years on managerial positions in national industry (PZL WOLA, WZM). A modernization of engineering park took place, alongside with broadening the assortment with moped parts and designing and implementing into production a new foot operated pump. All that, of course, happened within the scope of capability given at the time by socialist economy.
Stefan Dobrowolski died in 1983. Jerzy Dobrowolski became the sole owner of the company, which was depleted by inheritance proceedings. In the next years, struggling with numerous problems characteristic of that period in Polish history, he managed to enhance technologically the production of foot operated pumps (including a manometer), thus winning the market competition with several rivals.
Foot operated pump with a manometer, 1980s model.
Hand operated pump with composite base, 1980s model.
Hand operated pump with composite base, 1980s model.
In 1990 Jerzy’s’ son - Rafał Dobrowolski, graduate from Warsaw University of Technology, took up the job in family business. This coincided with a violent change in economic conditions and a period of economic collapse.
Balcerowicz reforms, hyperinflation, an abrupt permission for merchandise imported from abroad (along with an unfavorable taxation of home production that promoted imported wares) and additionally uncontrolled import of the commodities from the former Soviet Union republics, resulted in situation (despite alleged opening gates for private business initiatives), which from today’s point of view could be evaluated as rather hopeless for the manufactures.
Despite that, carried by a wave of enthusiasm due to reclaimed economic freedom and, what seemed at the time, an unlimited chance for development, we undertook a strenuous modernization effort, using all of company’s and family’s resources to achieve this aim. It referred to merchandise construction and technology of their production, as well as machinning park. A completely new model of foot operated pump was designed, with a distinct esthetic form and (what is equally important) based on different technological specifications.
Surviving the early 1990s, modernization of the plant and adapting to new economic conditions was possible owing to material reserves accumulated in 1989 and sustained actions in later years.
The 1990s were a period of intensive development of the company. Both revenue and assortment of marketed goods, as well as manufacturing base, considerably increased. All products manufactured up to date, such as foot and hand operated pumps, were subjected to total modernization. Additionally, completely new products were introduced: jackscrew (1998), bicycle racks for bike transportation START (2001) and its enhanced version HOMAR (2005).
Stamping press department was improved by adding 6 eccentric and 5 hydraulic presses and a guillotine. A department of automatic lathes, powder paint shop, injection molding machine and many other production and montage special positions were established.
Increased instrument needs (repair and conservation of increasingly numerous punch sets, die sets and injection molds, with a demand for new ones) impelled START to create in 1994 our own tool shop, intensively developed ever since, as a separate department.
Owing to progressively better equipment and accumulated experience, apart from handling own production and new initiatives, since the beginning of 2000 the tool shop has provided services outside of the company, which include producing and regenerating tools and precision processing. It gave the company a new impulse to develop, stimulating to invest more boldly in this sector of operation.
During this period the company changed its nature from a craftsman plant, employing few people, to a small production enterprise with an employment up to 20 workers. Its headquarters has systematically grown by purchasing and renting neighboring craftsman pavilions and by exploiting and developing all available area.
In this way, from a starting surface of 150 m2, we achieved up to 1000 m2 in 2004, which depleted the scope of development in this localization. Being aware of these limitations and considering risks stemming from an uncertain status of owned property, which was situated on a ground rented from borough, in 2005 we purchased an industrial estate in Ożarów Mazowiecki.
Over the course of the next 3 years, renovation and adaptation works were conducted, alongside with meeting the formal terms interrelated with acquiring a permission for ‘a change in type of usage of the facility’, which turned out the most difficult and time consuming tasks.
In 2008 the company changed its location to a new headquarters in Ożarów Mazowiecki, on the site of a former Wire Factory, within the limits of a SPECIAL ECONOMICAL ZONE ‘Europark Wisłosan’. It is a modern, spacious industrial facility with a total area of circa 2700 m2; equipped with high-tech ventilation, air-conditioning, heating and cooling installations that gives our firm opportunities for further development.
Moving our business to a new location allowed for a change of work organization in may crucial points, for example, internal logistics and storage of material, semi-finished and finished products have undergone a radical improvement; all that owing to the ability of using a forklift and pallet-container.
New residential conditions have also allowed for a more rational configuration of machine tools and creating more proper work environment. Especially important was assigning an air-conditioned area (so called aquarium) for the department of EDM, which has a beneficial influence on the accuracy of performed services and reliability of the machines.
It enabled to establish and develop a constructional-technological department with a gradually increasing staff. Additionally it became attainable to implement new machine tools and production machines, such as:
- 2008 - milling center MAS 1270V, eccentric press LEN63, turning center Goodway, surface grinder SPD40, graphite milling machine
- 2009 - injection molding machine 55T,
- 2010 - milling center HAAS VM2, injection molding machine 100T
- 2011 - deep hole driller Sodick AD-3L, injection molding machine 300T
- 2012 - wire driller Accutex SP-300, turning center SMART, assembly stand with lifting equipment
- 2013 - deep hole driller Agietron 4U
- 2014 - lathe CNC TUG-56, an air-conditioned measurement chamber equipped with a measuring machine CNC Ares was established
- 2015 - milling machine CNC AVIA FNE 40N, , 5-axial processing center Avia X-5, wire driller Mitsubishi MV2400S
Another stations in the constructional-technological department were equipped during this time with computers along with specialized software CAD/CAM/CAE – 14 working stations in total: 4 Autodesk Inventor licenses, 2 Solid Edge licenses, 2 EdgeCam licenses, 3 NX licenses, 2 Esprit licenses, 1 ArcoCad license.
Along with the expansion of engineering park and increase of the revenue, the employment has systematically grown in 2015, up to 35 workers.
In time, the part of revenue, acquired from service-tool shop activity, has grown and the tool-shop itself has become dominant department in the profile of the company.
In 2014 the company applied to ‘RPO WM operation 1.5’ aiming at subsidy from a project under a name ‘growth of the competitiveness by purchasing modern machine tools’. The petition was accepted but did not qualify for financial aid on the grounds of exhaustion of the funding pool. In result, investments from 2014 and 2015 proposed in our petition have been consistently achieved solely from our own resources.
Up to date, we haven’t received any public or European Union financial aid, for any of our investments!
Changing residential conditions also allowed for development of production assortment:
- 2008 – pump Lider
- 2010 – rack for ski transportation Slalom
- 2012 - rack for bike transportation Homar 2 Alu
- 2013 - bicycle holder Homar 3
- 2014 - Foot operated pump TRAPER
- 2015 - pump Lider 2
More commodities are being prepared…