30 years of ABEL-Computer company year by year…
1988 – The beginning of a long journey
It´s a year 1988. Milan Mačuga, today´s owner of the ABEL-Computer company, works as a programmer and analyst and has on his desk the dot matrix printer Robotron K-6314. The cartridge to this printer costs 500 Kčs and has to be changed every other week. Throw these cartridges into the trash in such a short time can seems to a man with a pay at that time 3.000 Kčs per month unprecedented wasting. Therefore he takes it to pieces and analyzes the cartridge to find out how it works. To his surprise, the principle (from his point of view) is trivial and at the same time brilliant. The cassette contains the Möbius loop, which extends the tape in the casette to twice the normal length. An inquisitive programmer will soon find a tape replacement solution. The discharged cartridges begin to be filled with discs from the typewriter and later from the multi-hundred-meter disc of the tape. However, the tape also needs to be circuited, but it is nothing like that yet on the market. So Milan Mačuga himself produces the first – quite unique – tape welding machine for creating and smoothing the circuit, what is in the result perfect, solid, thin and smooth.
The first renovated cartridges are in the world, and long-term tests confirm that thanks to the new type of the tape they are printing even longer than the original ones from Robotron. The production price of the renovated cassette (without the cost of the idea, work, packaging, invoicing, etc.) is 12 Kčs!So a good idea is borning in a small office in a block of flats thanks to the printer Robotron K-6314.
The history of cartridge renovation is beginning to be written in Opava.
1989 – The end of the old days
28. 5. 1989 Milan Mačuga starts his business in the area of providing services based on the permission of the Opava District National Committee. The interest in renovating (restoring) print cartridges due to the quality and cost is really huge. Therefore Milan leaves his current work and establishes Programming and system service. One person, lots of ideas, hard work, courage and belief in wellending. That was completely enough for the start.
1990 – The new way
It is shortly after the Velvet Revolution and it is necessary to keep up with the times. Therefore, since June 1990, the programming and system service has expanded the range of its services to include business activities. The team strengthens the first 4 “employees” – so far only for the test, so-called “on ID”. Basic Work Tools: big suitcase and in it calculator, floppy disks, typewriter tapes and courage to break it up in the meeting room of a collector or an economist. It works and on the subscriber list the first big customers appear like Ostroj Opava, Moravské chemické závody (today BorsodChem), ČSAD Ostrava or Galena (today TEVA). At the same time, the first real manufactory for the renovation and production of cartridges for dot matrix printers is being created at Mačuga´s home. The whole family is involved in the process for a small reward. Production takes place in the garage, packing and billing orders in their flat. And now comes the first huge investment in technologies. Obviously, the „on knee made“ tape welding machine will no longer be prosecute this size of capacity. It is therefore necessary to purchase a professional machine for bonding imprinting tape. On bank loan and with non-Christian interest rate. The price is dizzy 900.000 Kčs!
1991 – The first moving
The first two real employees. Moving from the garage to the first larger non-residential premises leased in a former firm AGREKOS. Extending the offer with training activities.
1992 – The birth of a real company
26. 8. 1992. The historical date meaning the transformation of a natural person into a legal person. The company ABEL-Computer s.r.o. is established.
1993 – The End of Czechoslovakia
Czechoslovakia is falling apart. However, the renovation of the print cartridges is constantly increasing and is complemented by a genuine greater production of new typewriter cartridges. Sales of office equipment and computers are also divaricate, Accredited training and retraining are carried out. ABEL-Computer is still a small business, but it has big plans…
1994 – Slovakia is calling
Number of employees: 8.
After the break-up of Czechoslovakia, the Slovak market is thanks to borders virtually inaccessible, but not uninteresting. It is necessary to start preparing for the establishment of a company in Slovakia.
1995 – The Slovak journey begins
Number of employees: 10.
In town Čadca is being created company ABEL-Computer, s.r.o. – Slovakia. However, the establishment of a branch is very exhausting in terms of time and money. No one knows that the Slovak company will be profitable in the long five years! Anyway the popularity of renovating print cartridges is increasing, because it brings huge financial savings to customers using this consumable.
1996 – The most expensive „training“
Number of employees: 12.
ABEL-Computer keeps pace with the times and expands its services by refining ink cartridges. Their fulfillment is done with the help of Swiss technology, which, however, proves to be very defective. Frequent repairs of the machine whose purchase value was 850.000 Kč, however, they bring valuable information and later lead to build their own machines for refurbishing ink cartridges. It is probably the most expensive, but also the most important „training“ in the company's history. The owner learns from mistakes, but also from the design perfection of the Swiss machine and in the next years he designs, produces prototypes and programs its own refurbishment machines. The foundation of the future research and development department is established and will be personally later managed by Mr. Mačuga.
1997 – The Rocket Rise
Number of employees: 26.
With the development of our own cassette renovating machines and millions of investments in other manufacturing technologies, the company is expanding rapidly from year to year. Turnover compared to 1996 is growing by 74% and is open the office equipment shop.
1998 – Laser won't stop us
Number of employees: 49.
The boom of the company continues to rise. Compared to the previous year, turnover increased by another 80%. Massive investments in new technologies continue and much more advanced machines and fixtures are needed to renovate cartridges – now also for laser printers.
1999 – The second moving
Number of employees: 68.
The company's turnover is up 75%. Preparations are underway to start the renovation of color ink cartridges and it is obvious that existing premises are no longer sufficient for capacity. The only option is to find a new background in Opava and the fastest solution is to rent a building with an area of 2000 m2. The Slovak branch is starting to prosper and shows positive economic results for the first time in 5 years!
2000 – Customer in the first place
Number of employees: 90.
Finishing preparations for renovating color ink cartridges, investments in research and development department are enormous. The process of preparing for quality system certification ISO 9001 according to the standard begins. But also is invested in the customer care system. The Company introduces philosophy „Customer in the first place“, because expects that the market is going to change significantly within 10 years and the care of customers will turn back in the form of their loyalty. At this time no one knows that the market change will come in the autumn of 2008 in the form of a terrifying global economic crisis.
2001 – ISO 9001
Number of employees: 113.
Services of company ABEL-Computer are extended to service and prophylaxis of printers and also starts the cooperation with outsourcing partners. By renting 2 production halls, the production space is increased to 4000 m2. Increasing quantity, however, must in no way mean a reduction in quality! The company proving this in august 2001 successful completion of the quality system certification process according to the standard ISO 9001:2001.
2002 – The advent of color laser
Number of employees: 119.
A customer care department and a call center are established. Preparations for renovation of color laser cartridges are beginning. The foundation for future success is the perfect understanding of color printing technologies. Massive investments are made in the technology of cassette production. ABEL-Computer introduces color matching measurements using spectrophotometers X-Rite and BYG Gardner. Suppliers of toner cartridge manufacturing components are from now on selected solely on the basis of accurate measurements demonstrating that the print will be true to color. Customers appreciate this approach and require it over time.
2003 – We manage also HP-9000
Number of employees: 121.
New printers and new research and development challenges are coming, requiring more and more extensive investments. Thanks to it however ABEL-Computer manages to keep pace with the world and is getting faster and more successful in introducing new types of alternative cartridges into production. The company is not even afraid to buy the license and expensive cartridge renovation technology for the largest and fastest printer on the market at the time HP-9000.
The basis for success is the still uncompromising emphasis on quality. The stress tests of the individual components required for the renovation of the cartridges are carried out. Before each new type of cartridge to production are appropriate printer „crafty“ dozens of test pieces. However, the cost of testing returns within a few months, as the cartridges tested like this are of constant quality and the number of reclamations are almost zero. Naturally, errors sometimes occur, but are minimal.
The system for selecting suppliers is introduced on the basis of the stress tests results of individual components. Quality control is thereby subjected to almost every delivery and future confirms that this method of monitoring the quality of suppliers is the only possible.
2004 – The historical fair Invex
Number of employees: 126.
Expansion of the company continues. Neither the current premises doesn´t enough yet and begins the preparation for the purchase or construction of a new headquarters.
As the most representative on the field of renovation of the print cartridges in the Czech Republic and Slovak Republic can´t obviously ABEL miss the fair Invex, which is the largest domestic IT exhibition. Its stand is always double the exhibition space and the company always presents itself with something new and interesting. But then comes the year 2004 and with it the presentation at home renovation firm until then unimaginable and unprecedented. Exposure ABEL occupies a completely dominant space in the middle of the pavilion A2 and to its customers here offers support program comparable at that moment, perhaps only with the presentation of Microsoft. In competitions organized by ABEL team right at their booth are involved hundreds of visitors and dozens of them carry away prizes like printers and cameras Nikon. Gift T-shirts with the company logo is then seen on the streets throughout the country for many years.
2005 – Neither chips are not an obstacle
Number of employees: 156.
Technological advances in printing goes forward by leaps and bounds. Neither the new chip technologies doesn´t slow down the pace adapt to the market by the company ABEL-Computer. The year 2005 is involved by intensive study of Color Management and establishing collaboration with chip manufacturers as part of a reverse analysis of new chip cartridges. Preparations for the entrance of innovative printing technologies are running at full speed. It culminates in the purchase of a new company headquarters, preparation for its reconstruction and purchase of 17,000 m2 of adjacent land for further development of the company.
2006 – And moving again
Number of employees: 163.
The company's goal is clear: retain current customers and market position not with promises or tricks, but only by the technical capabilities and superior care. Further investment in research and development, and to study new technologies are therefore an absolute necessity. The reconstruction of future headquarters at Oblouková Street culminates and begins preparation for the moving.
2007 – The online sales calling
Number of employees: 171.
Moving to a new headquarters means improving the conditions for working in every way. Research and development gains a completely new character, internal communication is taking on faster and better appearance. Increasing priority is customer care while in the long term based on a personal approach. But this area also requires an innovative and modern admittance. Therefore begins preparation for the expansion of the range of products through an online store. The light of the world sees domain shop.abel.cz.
2008–2017 – Ten years of running away as water
Coming Fall 2008, and with it the financial crisis. For months it´s not clear what will happen. Many customers reduce or even postpone their orders. At the same time, however, they confirm that the care that ABEL-Computer company has so far given them will justify continuing cooperation when it will be better. The decline in turnover due to the global crisis is taken as a reality in ABEL and as an impulse for even greater efforts to improve the quality of products and services. It is believed that this approach will bear fruit. After a long year of uncertainty and deep drop everything returns to normal, and customers coming back. It is a pleasant proof that taking care of your customers even in times of abundance really pays off.☺
In 2009, proceeds recertified ISO 9001 and again confirms the quality of its products, the company has supervised and customers do appreciate it. In the same year ABEL-Computer also proves, that thinks not only on the quality of its products, but also on the environment. The proof is the gain of the certificate ISO 14001: 2005 proving that the operation of the company is gentle and only minimally burdens the nature. This is at that time a crucial difference compared to the competition.
The introduction of a new information system allows you to increase efficiency in all areas and reduce costs. Savings are immediately reinvested in new technologies and employee care. It is in the last ten years returned in the form of almost zero fluctuation. After all, 88% of employees have been in the company for more than 10 years! In addition, babies are also on the increase, and so in terms of employee generation replacement, the outlook for the next 20 years is relatively optimistic. ☺
The company also presents new promotional materials, there is a slight revitalization of the company's logo and to unification of corporate identity. For the customers new activities and interesting events are being prepared.
In Slovakia, the status of “Protected Workplace” is obtained and thus the services are extended by an offer of alternative performance.
Investments in research and development continue. Tested and measured is everything that can be tested and measured to achieve the highest quality of ABEL print cartridges.
The number of employees is no longer changing, it is enough to optimize production and introduce innovation to optimize costs and production capacity. And come the first retirements of some of those who „pulled“ it with the company from the very beginning and believed in its future. Particularly to them belong many thanks!
2018 – The family company welcomes a new helper
In February 2018, the co-owner and a great help in the management of the company becoming Tomas Mačuga, the son of company owners. He takes responsibility for further development and trends and identifying new market opportunities in order to differentiate themselves from the competition.
2019 – Thirty is comming
It all started in 1989. Demand for our services due to exceptional customer care is relentless and when we celebrate 30 years of our existence in 2019, it's a pretty nice reference for our customers.
„Customer care in the first place“ proves to be the best model (as we were able to see in the autumn of 2008) so we continue to improve customer support. Therefore, in the years to come, we are increasing our investment in training and organizing customer seminars.
„The greatest wealth of the company is its employees“. We are extremely proud that, as one of the few companies (perhaps the last) in the field of consumables, we still have real own production and thus quality control. After 30 years we still employ a lot of people in production and we believe that by continually improving processes we will still be a favorite employer. At the same time, we understand that automation and efficiency are concepts that will sooner or later force us to make changes, but we think it is a natural process for every business and that we will be ready.
Over the coming years we will therefore continue massive investments in the tens of millions of crowns in infrastructure, information systems and customer support.
2019–2029 – What will be the next 10 years?
Yes, we are thinking about the future. So far nothing suggests that there will be a revolution in the press world. But when it comes, we will definitely be ready.
Recall what has happened in the past 30 years in the printing industry:
- Although the first dot matrix printer was in the world in 1964 (two years before our owner was born ☺), in the Czech Republic began to „needles“ to reign in the 90s of the 20th century. And then the history of our company began.
Do you remember the printer Star LC-20? Epson LQ-1000? You believe you could print with 7 needles? Or later in HD quality with revolutionary 24 needles? ☺
- A few years later, the first inkjet printers came and we were back there. We bought technology for the renovation and then started to produce own machines to product the cartridges. „Needles“ gradually receded and our company expanded in „inks“.
- When the „laser“ came in, the needles remained at the supermarket cash desks (and nowadays, often not even there) and „inks“ receded in the background. Print speed is increasing, but the cost of original toner cartridges is not falling as much as we all would like. ☺
- Printer manufacturers realized that the greatest threat comes not from companies that renovate, but the Chinese companies that manufacture counterfeits in tens of millions of units per month mostly in traditional Chinese quality.
What happens next in the world of print?
Will 3D print dominate? Certainly not in the field of document printing. The 3D printer has nothing to do and also will not have to do with printing documents. However, this is an area that probably will experience in the coming years the big growth. Here, too, physical obstacles to printing in fine detail are still at a higher speed with a gaming printer at a cost below 10.000 Kč. We will wait for a few more years before we print a vase or a promised valve for a washing machine for a few crowns at home. ☺
Full-page printing of the whole page at a sudden speed? Yes, there are experiments, but they usually run into simple physics. The side printed at high speed in case of ink will not dry. Yes, there are also beautiful and truly functional projects and printer for fans of fast printing. But hand on heart: do you really need 30 pages in 5 seconds?
New epoch changes to print technology, such as the transition from needle to ink to toners? So far, it doesn't look like some revolutionary change. There are occasional printer manufacturer statements that soon, but… We keep one's fingers crossed for printer manufacturers for at least 5 years and look forward to new challenges ☺.
And our journey to 2029?
We will follow trends, work on our development, increase the quality of our services and work on internal processes leading to higher efficiency.
We plan to invest in research and development of tens of percent profit, apply new measuring and manufacturing technologies, thus increasing the quality of our produced print cartridges.
We hope to capture new trends in advance and we will pass these informations to our customers, so that they are able to save even more printing costs.
We will literally pamper customers as much as we did last 30 years.
We believe that our personal care and human contact will be appreciated more than the customer's contact with the automatic e-shop – even with the possibility to press the number two for the helpline overloaded with complaints…
And even in 10 years.
In this regard, we have a great team, exemplary customer care, and we are working on further development.
We believe this is the right way. We will see :o)
And if you put in your calendar the date 16. 1. 2029 and you will find the continuation of our history here, it will be clear that we have not missed the goal.☺