Great Interview on the Retigo combi oven’s 30th anniversary

Did you know that 2023 marked the 30th anniversary of the first combi oven we produced? Maybe some readers even remember the company’s beginnings. But don’t be fooled. The first combi oven was made in 1993, but RETIGO s.r.o. wasn’t incorporated until a year later, in 1994. Its anniversary will therefore be celebrated in 2024.

Since that time, a lot has changed. That includes the design of combi ovens, expansion of the model ranges, remote control, tweaks to the appliances’ software, arrival of new employees and the expansion of the company premises. The most recent extension took place in 2021. The new hall has helped us expand production capacity. But let’s linger for a moment to the time when the first combi oven was created, and the company soon after that. Let’s take a trip down Memory Lane with three of our five owners. Jiří Zátopek, Jaroslav Kudela and Libor Pavelka shared their facts and experience with us.

How did Retigo’s five current owners get together?

Zátopek: We all worked together at the old Tesla plant in Rožnov, where single-purpose machines were built.

Pavelka: Mr Zátopek and Mr Kudela worked in electrical design, and I worked in mechanical design with Jirka Jaroň and Vašek Miller, who are also Retigo owners.

Kudela: We were mainly friends at work. At the time, we worked on smokers. They’re similar to combi ovens. They heat up, there’s a control unit, a fan, but the temperatures aren’t that high, and the smoking cabinets produce smoke.

Where did the idea come from to produce a combi oven?

Zátopek: After the revolution, Tesla understandably looked for other lines of business, and one of them was culinary technology, and we were tasked with putting together a combi oven.

Pavelka: Combi ovens didn’t succeed there, though, and we got the idea to produce a combi oven outside Tesla.

Zátopek: Tesla knew that marketing was what was missing, which is necessary when you have an idea and a product, but there was nobody selling the appliances. Nobody knew how to do it at the time, least of all the factory. So it “died”. And that was an opportunity to figure out what to do next.

Kudela: We liked the fact that the appliance was expensive and couldn’t be produced or copied easily. So at work we said we’d try to put it together. We were led to that by changes in the company and a less than positive outlook for the future. The plant sold only a couple of combi ovens, and in a few years was bankrupt.

Did you know what a combi oven was?

Kudela: I didn’t. I started gathering information and researching the market. We didn’t have any competition, just Eloma in Germany and one more manufacturer. Their combi ovens cost up to 300,000 crowns, which at the time was unimaginable — almost the price of a new house. These appliances already had some history, so after the revolution, they were among the first to start appearing.

Continue reading about Retigo’s beginnings here