Zelezodum is a true example of a business that, when done with the heart, will last forever. Thank you to Adam Fila who told us about the origins of their family business, which they have looked after for generations. They have been through several historical events throughout their business and these too have had an impact on their livelihood. How has their product range changed over the years as a result? And who looks after the shop today? You can read all about it in this article.
The origin of the Zelezodum shop dates back to 1932!
The Zelezodum shop was founded in 1932 by my great-grandfather Arnošt Hofírek. He was an exceptionally entrepreneurial man who was ahead of his time with the construction of the house that now houses the Zelezodum shop and even today passers-by are still wondering about the building, which is set among family houses. Grand-grand father wanted the Zelezodum shop building to be as tall as the local church of St Peter and St Paul. Later, however, he had to give in to his demands because he did not have enough building material to construct such a tall building.
The beginnings of the retail business and the operation of the store were not easy. In 1950, the shop was nationalised and came under Unity. It was not until 1992 that the shop was returned to our personal ownership, unfortunately the founder, great-grandfather Arnošt Hofírek, did not live to see this. The paradox was that all the time, although he was the owner of the shop and the house, he was an employee of Unity. This changed only in 1950, when the shop was handed over to the next generation, to the grandson of the founder Arnošt Hofírek, Zdeněk Fila.
Together with his wife, he has been running the shop up to the present day. I should be the fourth generation to carry on the tradition of the store. However, my dream is to have a 21st century store, to have employees to run the store on a daily basis and only take care of the strategic operations. But there is a long and thorny road to that. What is important, however, is to have a vision and a goal to work towards in incremental steps. I firmly believe that if nothing major changes, I will be the next generation to carry on the tradition of our family business. I feel a certain responsibility to take care of this family “wealth” that has been passed on from generation to generation.
Was your shop always only a family business or did you have other employees working for Zelezodum?
Zelezodum was and is only a family business. It started with my great-grandfather Arnošt Hofírek, who managed the shop with my great-grandmother and his brother, then continued by my grandfather and grandmother, and now the third generation in the form of my father and mother takes care of the Zelezodum shop. My mother takes care of our brick and mortar shop, my father makes sure there is enough stock and I take care of the online shop. My brother helps us here and there and our grandmother, who is very spry even in her old age. I also have to mention the great temporary worker Marta, thanks to whom we manage the Christmas hustle and bustle.
How has your product range changed over time?
The assortment changed according to the times. I remember that my grandfather used to go to the factory every week to buy fittings, which were a huge seller at that time. There were also things such as smoke goods, stoveware, plumbing supplies and even fittings – people were skilled in those days and did everything themselves at home. As time went on, there was a great emphasis on expanding the range of garden and house supplies. There were also kitchen utensils, construction and workshop tools.
Now I would like to name the shop’s range so that the customer can find a large number of house, garden, building, workshop and marginally also pet supplies.
Have you had a crisis in your business where you wondered if it was still worth it/worth it?
I had to ask this question to more experienced people who have been in the store more than I have. I’ve been told that specifically existential problems the store has not experienced. However, generally business is erratic, one month is great, the next you make nothing. That’s how business works anyway. We experience the biggest sales during the spring time, on the other hand the big downturn is during the beginning of the year January, February.
What advice would you give to an aspiring entrepreneur in your industry who wants to do business online?
If you have in mind to do business in our range, which is the retail sale of home and garden supplies, I would recommend that a start-up entrepreneur who wants to offer these goods on the Internet, where the competition is huge, first of all think everything through. Because really the competition, especially on the Czech Internet, is really big. Every other e-shop offers a similar spade, shovel, trolley or fertilizer. So if a person despite this competitive environment decides to go for it, I would think about what will be my added value – whether it is speed of delivery, communication, different assortment or a different way.
In another case, I would recommend finding reliable and proven suppliers. Choose a suitable platform to start selling your goods and last but not least, I would recommend finding a mentor in the field of internet business, focusing on e-commerce. Fortunately, I met such a mentor in the beginning and he helped me significantly in the beginning. He saved me a lot of time, money and mistakes that I would have certainly made.
What do you miss most in your business and what would you appreciate?
When doing business, I would absolutely most appreciate some carrier that can ship goods without cardboard packaging at a human cost that makes sense for both the shipper, the receiver, and the receiver. Perhaps such a carrier is already on the market, but I haven’t come across one yet. I would really welcome that, because logistics and order handling is one of the key things to a successful e-shop in my opinion. I would also welcome teleport delivery of goods from suppliers (again logistics), often the delivery time from them is quite long – not for all, but for most it is. But then again, I understand that each supplier has certain options they can offer.
What does the cooperation with Tanganica mean for Zelezodum?
For me, working with tanganica means another sales channel and another potential opportunity to convert customers in our favour. However, it depends on many variables whether or not a customer buys from us. However, Tanganica gives me the chance to fight for the customer and convince them that we are the right choice for their purchase.
What are you most satisfied with in Tanganica?
In Tanganyika, we are satisfied with the clear administration, as well as with the communication and support, which in most cases is lightning fast and willing to help us to our satisfaction. However, I would also highlight the overall functionality of the whole system, where we as a company do not have to worry about anything. Tanganica itself delivers our desired results and recommended PNOs, so overall we are happy with Tanganica.
Thanks again to Adam, who besides the studio is also great at taking care of the e-shop of the Ironworks store, for sharing this valuable information with us. We keep our fingers crossed that the shop will only prosper and you can pass it on to the next and future generations as a family legacy.