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The history is cornerstone of the
present time as well as challenge to the future.

ZKL Group history

ZKL, a. s. joint-stock company integrates Czech bearing manufacturers producing bearings under the ZKL trade name. It was established in 1999 as a purely Czech private company integrating three manufacturing companies, namely ZKL Brno, a.s., ZKL Klášterec nad Ohří, a.s. and ZKL Hanušovice, a.s. as well as specialized companies ZKL Výzkum a vývoj, a.s. and ZKL Bearings CZ, a.s. Manufacturing in all of these companies has its own deep history which we endorse and based on these traditions the manufacturing companies guarantee the continuity of ZKL rolling bearing development and production in the Czech Republic.

And just the continuity of ZKL bearing development and production is considered as a key factor which is the source of knowledge and experience affecting positively current company development dynamics. This is the reason why it is advisable to mention some important historical milestones.


  • the first rolling bearings were produced in the country in the Fichtl and Sachs plants at Perštejn nad Ohří. The Perštejn factory was originally built as a weaving mill. It was bought in 1911 by Dr Emil Sachs from Schveinfurt and he had the buildings rebuilt to an engineering production facility. The first products were free wheels for bicycles. Due to growing production in the parent plant in Schveinfurt friction-balls manufacturing was moved to Pernštejn in 1921 and two years later, the product range was extended by rolling bearings. This production was taken over by SKF in 1930 and it remained part of its assets until 1948 when the factory in Perštejn nad Ohří was acquired by government. The plant in Klášterec nad Ohří was built during the World War II, in 1943 by German company SUMAG to serve the production of military material for aviation industry. In 1945 – 1949 the company got under the national administration and its production programme varied significantly. In 1949 it became part of the TOS Holoubkov national entreprise as a branch plant focused on lathe and circular frame-saw production. Since January 1, 1952 it was associated to ZPS Brno – Líšeň. That year the machine tool production programme was terminated and due to the significant growth of bearings demand and lack of space in the Pernštejn plant, the bearings production was moved to Klášterec na Ohří. Since 1953 only bearings have been produced here and the company to which the Perštejn nad Ohří plant was associated to was named ZKL, n. p. Klášterec nad Ohří.


  • establishment of the bearing plant in Brno – Líšeň and production launch of the first 28 type dimensions of ball bearings.


  • the first balls produced.

1950 – 64

  • construction of bearing plants in both the Czech and Slovak Republics.


  • establishment of the first rolling bearing research institute in Brno. A permanent need for new bearing types and increasing requirements for technical level in the area of technology, design and quality brought about the construction of the ZKL VÚVL research institute from which ZKL-Výzkum a vývoj, a. s. detached based in Brno. The 1980s’ development was affected by the government decision to specialize on bearings manufacturing. In cooperation with the Rolling Bearing Research Institute new type product lines were put in production and development and manufacturing focused also on special bearings with atypical dimensions for railway vehicles, construction machinery, metallurgy and mining industries and on large-scale bearings.


  • the „ZKL“ trade mark was registered. The trade mark was registered in 53 countries worlwide. The ZKL Group joint-stock companies are entitled to use the ZKL trade mark.

1959 – 60

  • in the late sixties in-house balls production was introduced at Klášterec. The production move from Pernštejn and its enhancement resulted in an extensive construction of manufacturing halls in the early seventies. Since 1965 the company was incorporated in the ZVL general management and later on under the syndicate based in Považská Bystrica.


  • after 1990 the syndicate was dissolved and from ZKL Klášterec nad Ohří a separate joint-stock company was created whose all shares remained in state ownership. Economic changes within Zetor Brno lead to the separation of bearing production from the tractor one and later on to the separate entity for spherical-rolling bearing production - ZKL Brno, a. s. This company became in 1998 a majority owner of ZKL Klášterec nad Ohří, a. s. and since November of that year also VTL Hanušovice, today ZKL Hanušovice, a. s. was affiliated. Original factory buildings in Hanušovice were built as a spinning-mill. Engineering production has been carried out here since 1957 when the plant was merged with Karos Vysoké Mýto. A year after the company became a branch plant of the tractor and bearing manufacturer – Zetor Brno and the production of tractor components was launched here. Production programme included disc brakes, exhaust silencers, suspensions for single-axle semitrailer and a wide range of air and hydraulic tubes. The company responded to tractor production slump after 1990 by significant changes in the production schedule.

1993 – 96

  • bearing plants split and privatization. After the privatization in 1996 Konsolidační banka Praha became the company owner keeping one hundred percent of the shares which concluded an agreement on shares transfer to ZKL Brno two years later. The bearing production history in Brno is somewhat shorter. At its beginning the decision on introducing a complete rolling bearing production in former Czechoslovakia was made in 1947. Still in the same year a cooperation of the newly set up plant within Zbrojovka Brno – Líšeň with Hoffmann, an English company was established. Thus the foundation for bearing production development was laid not only in Brno but in the whole country. Despite of troubles brought by the political turnaround in 1948 still the production of 28 bearing types was secured that year. As of January 1, 1950 a new company was established: The Závody přesného strojírenství precision engineering plants Brno – Líšeň to which the branch plants at Klášterec nad Ohří, Dolní Měcholupy and Kysucké Nové Mesto were gradually associated. 155 bearing types were produced at that time in all plants in then Czechoslovakia. Since 1953 this production unit had the ZKL name, then since 1976 the Zetor name. In 1959-60 conical bearing production was introduced in Prešov, in 1961-63 a bearing plant was built in Skalica. Another part of production was moved to Blanické strojírny Vlašim and conelet production was moved to Povážské strojírny in Povážská Bystrica. In 1965 – 1980 the production of other 217 bearing types was delimitated from the Brno plant.


  • the cooperation with VW automotive group was established as to the supply of precision formed tubes. After attachment to ZKL Group spherical-rollers manufacturing made in ZKL Brno, a. s. was partially transferred to Hanušovice. Since 1999 ZKL Nářadí, a. s. at Klášterec nad Ohří has been providing support for bearing production. The focus of this company is clear: design and production of tools and instrumentation for chip machining on special machinery, dies and tools for component production for automotive industry.


  • establishment of the consolidated group of rolling bearing manufacturers in the Czech Republic, ZKL Group based in Brno. During the 1990s Czechoslovakia was split and the Slovak bearing producers were detached from the Czech producers and other bearing producers in the Czech Republic mostly changed their production schedule. ZKL Group which was established as of July 1, 1999 thus combines all key bearing producers in the Czech Republic.


  • ”Gold Medal” was awarded to spherical-roller bearings lines 222, 223 at the International Engineering Fair, Brno.


  • industrial design model Box for ZKL bearings was registered in 8 countries.


  • ”Gold Medal” was awarded to bearings for vibration equipment at the International Engineering Fair, Brno.


  • “Fair Prize” was won by innovated axial spherical-roller bearings with a sheet-metal cage at the International Engineering Fair, Nitra.

2006 – 08

  • the new ZKL Training Centre was built up focusing mainly on the basic and advanced technical trainings for ZKL employees as well as for business partners in order to improve their qualification regularly.


  • new trade-mark „NEW FORCE“ was registered including a new box for „NEW FORCE“ bearings, currently the trade-mark is registered in other countries as well.


  • ZKL Klášterec nad Ohří, a.s. was incorporated in ZKL Group based on the court final order on returning ZKL Klášterec nad Ohří to ZKL Group.


  • ”Best Product” award won by ZKL New Force Bearings at the IEF, Brno.


  • The Annual ACRI (the Association of Czech Railway Industry) Price awarded in the “Components” category.

Currently ZKL Group is structured in such a way that it can develop efficiently and strenghten its competitiveness against leading world’s bearing manufacturers, i.e. it has a design and development base, sufficient production capacities, educated and qualified employees, and a dynamically developing sales network which is made up by the network of sales representatives appointed for each territory with respect to specific conditions of each national market. 




ZKL is the biggest manufacturer of large-scale spherical-roller, special and split bearings in Central Europe.

Copyright © 2012 ZKL, a.s.