When the flood of 1882 devastated the Rakovník region and destroyed the entire network of developing black coal shafts, no-one suspected that such a catastrophe would bring forth the most famous of Czech ceramics plants and major industries in the Rakovník region. While it was not possible to restore mining in the shafts, the mine owner, Moravia mining company, decided to use the remaining buildings, siding and some of the advanced technical equipment for the manufacture of ceramics.1882
Following preliminary testing, the shaft buildings of St. Mořič were equipped in 1883 with clay processing machines, hydraulic presses and three round kilns. From this time, production of refractory bricks and gray floor tiles was launched and has been going strong for 125 years.1883
The factory was purchased at the beginning of 1898 by Mr. Kasalovský and Mr. Sommerschuh. Emil Sommerschuh played an important role in the development of the factory and the range of products. He was the son of a well-known Prague ceramist and producer of tiled stones. Thanks to his skills, knowledge and cooperation with several painters, sculptors and architects, the factory’s assortment of products were soon extended to porous tiles, new types of tiles and tile stoves, mosaic facings a la Persian carpets, ceramic pictures, garden and cemetery ceramics, special relief building facing and façade tiles. Cooperation with top artists led to a high esthetic level of the products and apart from commercial success, also brought home awards at international exhibitions and competitions.1898
The factory was sold in 1907 to Hans II, Price of Liechtenstein, who already owned a ceramics factory in Poštovná near Břeclav. Through close cooperation of both factories, an enterprise of significant importance was created. Emil Sommerschuh was appointed CEO and continued developing the business. Great works of art were created in buildings that serve us to this day, such as the Municipal House in Prague, the recently reopened Imperial Hotel on Na Poříčí Street, the sculptures in front of the Eastern Bohemia Museum in Hradec Králové and many others.1907
Hans of Liechtenstein sold his ceramics factories in 1920 to Živnobanka, a joint-stock company with controlling interest. During the period before WW2, several mechanical innovations were introduced and most of the production halls of the existing department of earthenware tiles were built. People became more interested in façade facing during the 1920s and 1930s.1920
Production was significantly restricted during WW2. In 1945, activities increased when the plant was nationalized and a further 17 plants were attached to the Rakovník-based ceramics plant. Gradual consolidation of production came about as late as 1947.1945
In 1949, a reorganization of the company established three new national enterprises. Further reorganizational changes were implemented in the years to follow. The production of tiles and stove tiles were not restored in Rakovník, but increased construction in post-war Europe required supplies of ceramic floor tiles, especially earthenware tiles. Demand for tiles resulted in restricted production of technological demanding products.1949
At the turn of the 1950’s and 1960’s, the first major post-war reconstruction efforts began and investments were made in the company. These activities resulted in the later modernization of all production divisions.1955
Tile operation underwent extensive reconstruction from 1961-1964. A dispersal drier was used for the first time to prepare pressing material and the Rakovník ceramics plants became an international pioneer in this technology.1961
Construction of a new plant called RAKO III in Lubná near Rakovník was completed at the beginning of the 1980s.1980
In the 1990s, changes in the economic and political climate brought about the change from a national enterprise to a joint-stock company (1991), which to this very day is still comprised of five plants.1991
A leading German producer of construction ceramics, Deutsche Steinzeug Cremer and Breuer AG, was the major shareholder in Rakovník ceramics plants from 1994 to 2002.1994
In 2002, the major shareholder was replaced by the LASSELSBERGER family-owned company from Austria, which has incorporated RAKO into the LASSELSBERGER, a. s. group.
LASSELSBERGER s.r.o is currently the biggest producer of ceramic facing material in the Czech Republic and is one of the key players on the European market. It preserves and develops the 125 year tradition of the RAKO brand, including its comprehensive offer of housing ceramics, which it enhances each year with a new collection. It provides system solutions for commercial and non-commercial facilities through its own products under the LB OBJECT brand.