The tradition of toolmaking at Gorenje dates back 60 years. Since the founding of the company Gorenje Orodjarna, d.o.o., in 1993, which celebrated its 20th anniversary on May 6, the scope of this activity has been greatly extended. To commemorate this milestone, a collected volume titled "60 years of toolmaking at the Gorenje Group" was issued.
Company managing director Blaž Nardin: "Toolmaking is an industry that requires – apart from major investments into technology – knowledge and experience. At Gorenje Orodjarna, d.o.o., we are aware that toolmaking tradition spans much more than the last 20 years which is the far back our company is rooted. This was the motive behind the decision to look back and see when it all started. To this end, we collected archive data from various sources, especially the Gorenje archives and interviews with former employees, and issued a collected volume '60 years of toolmaking at the Gorenje Group'."
Highlights of Gorenje's toolmaking history
Back in 1953, the first simple meta shaping tool was made and this is seen as the start of toolmaking at Gorenje. By 1957 when Gorenje acquired its first planer to help produce the tools; then the metalworking company was manufacturing brick making machines, special purpose agricultural machinery such as mills and threshing machines, blades. With the acquisition of the company Tobi and its solid fuel stove production in 1958, however, Gorenje got its first real tools. This was also the milestone when Gorenje entered serious toolmaking.
Since Gorenje's manufacturing operations were extended to washing machines in 1965 and to refrigerator-freezers in 1969, there has been a constant and expanding need for tools and technologies, and the toolmaking plant accommodated them. Late in 1975, TOZD Orodjarna (basic organization of associated labour – toolmaking) was founded based on a worker's self-management agreement. Responding to the requirements identified at the toolmaking plant in this period, major intensive investments into technological update started in 1979, involving above all the acquisition of modern machinery, extension and construction of manufacturing plants, and introduction of computers into work, technological, and development processes. In 1979, the first order for the automotive industry was completed; in 1982, the first international deal was made.
Orodjarna operated as a TOZD (basic organization of associated labour) until 1984. Then, based on the Associated Labour Act, it was merged with the work organization Process Equipment. Following Slovenia's declaration of independence in 1991, Gorenje lost the markets of former Yugoslavia and saw a steep slump in sales, which also affected process equipment where operations shrunk to a point when it had to declare bankruptcy in 1993. The same year, two new companies were founded in its place, in 100-percent ownership of Gorenje, each with its own mission: since 1993, Gorenje Orodjarna, d.o.o., and Gorenje Indop, d.o.o., have been in charge of toolmaking and machine building, respectively, within Gorenje Group.
Gorenje Orodjarna today
The company Gorenje Orodjarna, d.o.o., with 216 employees, has faced very harsh market conditions in 20 years of its independent operations. Throughout this period, the volume of operations has been rising and performance has been improving. In 1994, it generated revenue of EUR 4 million; last year, this result was tripled and the plan for 2013 is EUR 13 million. The entire time, the company was focused on reaching new customers beyond Gorenje. Contacts that started many long-term partnerships nurtured to this day were often made at tradeshows in Slovenia and abroad. They are also proud of numerous professional awards. They are perennial winners of awards presented at many fairs, especially the Slovenian Formatool.
Today, the company is among the largest toolmaking companies in the region. Its activities include development and production of sheet metal shaping tools, plastics injection tools, polystyrene shaping tools, and thermoforming tools. In the last three years, the equipment was thoroughly revised and updated in order to optimize production and cut manufacturing costs; this year, they invested into three new tools. Today, Orodjarna offers support to production processes at the Gorenje Group in terms of tool maintenance and development and manufacturing of new tools and measuring systems. Gorenje is still Orodjarna's largest customer; however, the majority of revenue – as much as 65% – is generated in deals with the automotive industry.