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Mirror maker reflects on success

Tuesday, October 01, 2013 - 02:03

Oct 1 - Hungarian glass manufacturer Hirschler has survived two world wars, communism, regime change and the recent global economic crisis. So what's its secret? It makes a wide range of products and never gets into debt. Sonia Legg reports

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Hirschler Glas knows a thing or two about survival. The family business based in the Hungarian city of Sopron was founded in 1899. These days it makes rear view mirrors for vehicles. But it's adapted its products many times over the years. (SOUNDBITE) (Hungarian) FORMER CEO OF HIRSCHLER GLAS CO., REZSO HIRSCHLER, SAYING: "When the first bombs fell on Sopron during the war there were many broken windows so there was a huge need for glaziers. The city authorities decided not to send my father back to the war, saying he could remain to be the town's glazer." Rezso Hirschler's daughter Judit now runs the firm. As well as two world wars it's survived regime changes and even communism. During that period it was only allowed to employ three people and annual revenue couldn't exceed 100,000 forints - that's less than 300 euros (SOUNDBITE) (Hungarian) CEO OF HIRSCHLER GLAS CO. JUDIT HIRSCHLER, SAYING: "In those times we had to use all the tricks to survive. All our family members from my aunt and uncle, were cleaning mirrors, even my grandparents." Choosing markets carefully and looking after them are the Hirschler's other top tips. It still makes specialist mirrors for old Trabants and Zuks. It's added the likes of JCB, Caterpillar and John Deer to its client list since then, supplying them with more than 2 million pieces of mirror each year. And they're not the firm's biggest customer - the UK's Britax annually buys 750,000 rear view mirrors. Sales even rose after the start of the economic crisis. (SOUNDBITE) (Hungarian) CEO OF HIRSCHLER GLAS CO., JUDIT HIRSCHLER, SAYING: "In 2008 we were lucky enough to have no debts - that's why we survived. If we'd had a big mortgage we probably wouldn't have." 95 percent of Hirschler's products are now sold to western markets - it was Russia and eastern Europe until the Berlin Wall came down in 1989. After 114 years in business this is one manufacturer with plenty to reflect on.

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Mirror maker reflects on success

Tuesday, October 01, 2013 - 02:03