The story of our brand
by Michal Cerny, Supervisory Board Chairman, Walter Praguecast a.s.
Josef Walter incorporated Walter and Comp. in 1911 to raise funds for his car manufacturing business. Before Volkswagen came to life in Germany, Walter had already been producing the luxurious Walter Royal model in Czechoslovakia. It’s twelve-cylinder engine output was a whopping 120 bhp. In 1922, the Kumpera family took over the company and aircraft engine development and manufacturing started. The awareness of the Walter brand began to grow.
In 1949, during the communist regime, the company name was changed to “Motorlet”, but the original brand prevailed. All the engines bore the “WALTER” badge and the company logo on top of the highest HQ building remained – it was only turned upside down, so the original “W” became a slightly misshapen “M”.
In the eighties, I became an apprentice in Motorlet. But it still felt like I was working for “Walter” – the staff kept using that name. Later, in 1995, I became the business director and renaming the company back to “Walter” seemed only natural to me. Turning the “W” back to its original position was easy. But saving the company from its severe difficulties at the time and raising the Walter brand awareness again was much harder.
"Since then I know how important the brand is."
In the new millennium, Walter turbo prop engines became vastly successful in the U.S., especially in crop duster planes and in firefighting air tankers. Flying with crop dusters low to the ground is risky and the pilots are often referred to as “flying cowboys”. They dress and behave accordingly. In 2001, I was in Las Vegas visiting an air show. Heading for breakfast, I met one of those “cowboys” in the hotel lobby. In my European-cut business suit, I looked definitely foreign. I remember our brief exchange:
He asked me, in his strong southern accent: „Hello, where are you from?“
I answered: „Czech Republic.“
Him: „ Oh yes – Walter!“
Since then, I know how important a brand is.
Later, the engine manufacturing business was sold to General Electric, the former manufacturing plant was demolished, and a new residential and administrative district was built on its site. The only company still keeping the tradition of manufacturing in the original location in Prague is our precision casting foundry. We possess a unique know-how for production of precise heat-resistant castings used as critical parts in stator and rotor stages of gas turbines.
Since autumn 2020, the business is in sole ownership of our family and now the name of the original founder is back in the company name and logo.