How to create an international company?
Is it hard to create in Poland an international company offering products that are recognized throughout the world? Henryk Konopka believes that if you want to achieve something, have the right amount of determination, a good plan and – above all – an excellent product, then you can achieve anything. 40 years ago he founded Conhpol and started the production of dress shoes for men. After four decades, his shoes are worn in 50 countries on 5 continents. They are worn by, among others, businessmen, high school graduates, people at weddings and even Arab sheikhs. Two pairs were delivered even to the Pope himself!
Shoes for a father, shoes for a son – how to create a well-functioning business
We know that the Poles are a nation of entrepreneurs able to conquer the world with their ideas. We are often not aware that a strong brand might be from Poland. This is also the case of the Conhpol brand and its founder – Henryk Konopka. The company produces up to 70% of footwear for export, and is a respected and well-known brand abroad. It is associated with high-quality, beauty, tradition and history.
– I started practically at home. You need to remember that Conhpol has produced dress shoes for men from the very beginning. This was our first product and although it looked completely different than the one now, men loved them so much that even in the difficult times of PRL, when the availability of materials was very limited and the communist system did not allow to develop, I had to show a lot of self-determination and persistence, for I knew that there are customer with a demand for my shoes. Of course, back then I did not have so many people and machines at my disposal, everything had to be done manually, hand crafted. However, thanks to this my shoes have been used for a very long time. I decided that I will always produce shoes the quality of which will be confirmed by the fact that they were once worn by a father and now the son is buying the same brand. Customers are willing to recommend our shoes as they never failed them – asserts Henryk Konopka, founder of Conhpol.
Dozens of people and one pair of shoes
The fashion industry is not easy – competition is high, trends often change, people look at the price instead of the quality. It is however possible to achieve success. How?- You have to know what you want to do and never make concessions. Someone offers you a low-cost substitute to reduce production costs? If the product might lose its quality -, do not do this! If customers’ confidence is the most important thing for your company, you should never “lower” your standards. It is hard to retrieve a once-lost customer. In our company, more than 70 people work over one pair of shoes, this is a huge responsibility which always yields simply stunning shoes- adds Henryk Konopka.
Tradition combined with modernity
Conhpol footwear originates from a genuine craft tradition. Now, all of Henryk’s five children are involved with footwear industry and thus continue the tradition of shoe making. Besides dress shoes and casual shoes as well as elevated shoes for men, Conhpol also specializes in the production of wedding shoes. In addition, in Conhpol elite salons both women and men will find footwear suitable for many occasions, whether an evening banquet, business meeting, or just a leisure-time stroll. The brand regularly attends industry fairs held in Milan and Las Vegas, from where it imports fashion novelties so that women in Poland can walk in beautiful shoes. What is more, this Polish company from Stanisław Dolny is often visited by sheikhs and aristocrats who order special footwear e.g. made from crocodile leather. Two pairs of Conhpol shoes also went to Pope Francis.
After 40 years of operation, placing the company into the hands of his children and launching separate brands – Conhpol Bis, Conhpol Dynamic, Conhpol Relax and Conhpol elite sales showrooms – the brand has become one of the leaders of the high-quality footwear market and is planning further expansion in 2018. Thus, it will surely surprise us with new projects.