Rubber industry in Poland

Rubber industry in Poland

The beginnings of the rubber industry in Poland were in the first half of the 19th century. In 1834, a factory for “miscellaneous elastic rubber products” was established in Warsaw, founded by Joseph Leo Wemmer. Around 1888 there was the Warsaw Rubber Products Factory, which did not withstand competition from the Society of Russian-French Factories “Provodnik” and the Moscow Rubber Manufactory Society “Bogatyr”.

At that time, erasers became popular, which were manufactured at Warsaw's “Sphinx Eraser Rubber Factory”, M. Leszczynski's ink factory and S. Majewski's pencil factory in Pruszkow. A number of workshops producing rubber stamps were also established at the time.

After 1910, in the Piotrków Governorate in the Russian partition, in what is now Radomsko, there was a rubber products factory operated by D. Bugajski and the Rubber Products Factory “Polonia”, producing, among other things, rubber for technical and factory purposes and steam locomotive wheels.

As for the Prussian partition, in 1875 there were 16 major companies producing rubber products in the Greater Poland area. However, their number gradually decreased and in 1907 only one remained. No further information is available on their location except for two, producing rubber stamps, in Poznan. In 1913, in what was then Prussian Silesia, in the town of Podgorzyn, a factory was established in production of rubber roller pads for the nearby Cieplice paper machine factory. The company still operates today under the name Mitex Polska Sp. z o.o.

A number of rubber stamp craft factories were established in the Austrian partition, but Vienna was not interested in developing the rubber industry in the Galician area.
Many workshops operating at that time can hardly be called industrial plants due to their low technical level. It was not until the Second Republic that numerous plants were built from scratch, which almost fully covered the demand for rubber products. At the same time, there were many smaller enterprises - companies and sole proprietorships. By the end of the 1920s Poland became a significant producer of rubber footwear.

The crisis of the 1930s halted the development of the rubber industry in Poland. Only one major factory - “Sanok” - was established at that time, and the shoe industry saw the emergence of the Polish Company of Footwear “Bata” with a plant in Chelmek.

The development of the Polish rubber industry before World War II was influenced by the creation of the Central Industrial Region. The “Sanok” factory supplied products for the railroads and the military. Shortly before the outbreak of war, the production of automobile tires was launched in Debica. Production of synthetic butadiene rubber “KER” was also initiated there (the plant operated until 1956).

At that time, Poland ranked 9th in Europe in terms of rubber consumption. The state was increasingly influential in shaping this industry. Control of raw material imports was introduced, and prohibition duties were imposed on a certain finished goods. As production increased and demand grew, competition was created, forcing manufacturers to pay attention to the quality of the products they offered.

Wartime operations conducted in September 1939 did not cause significant damage to rubber factories. The occupier initially adapted them for production to meet the needs of Nazi Germany, but by 1940 most factories were either closed or in the process of liquidation. Finally, many facilities were destroyed between 1944 and 1945.
In 1946, the Central Board of Chemical Industry, which controlled the chemical industry in the country after the end of the war, established the Rubber Industry Union to rebuild destroyed plants.

In the 1950s destroyed plants were rebuilt and new production halls were put into operation. In the last year of the Union's operation (1982), it included 14 production plants (3 producing automobile tires, 10 producing various rubber products and 1 metal production).

Significant milestone for the Polish rubber industry was the implementation and launch of the production of KER S 3012 styrene-butadiene rubber at the Oswiecim Chemical Plant in 1959, and in the following years other types (KER 1500, KER 1712), which became the basic type of styrene-butadiene rubber in Poland.

Unfortunately, the development of the Polish economy was subordinated to the communist ideology of the USSR, which assumed the superiority of social property over private property. Economic contacts with Western countries were restricted, making the Polish market increasingly isolated.