Vasek obtained his B.Sc. in 1951, and from 1952 to 1954 worked as a Control and Development Chemist at Precision Rubber Ltd. Bagworth.
He gained experience working on aircraft moulded components using neoprene and nitrile rubbers, silicones, polysulphides and polyurethanes.
In 1954 he joined S.A.T.R.A. at Kettering as Chemist in charge of the Rubber Plastics and Adhesives Laboratory. He left in 1955 to join Evode on the 2nd August as a Development Chemist of the Adhesives Division and Technical Director in 1961.
July 1971 DR Simon resigned from the Chairmanship of B.R.R.A.M.A. and Mr. V Vohralik was elected in his place
He became Managing Director of Vik Supplies Ltd as well as a Director of Cox & Wright.
February 1966 V VOHRALIK Apointed to the board of Evode.
Mr. V Vohralik, B.Sc., Chief Chemist if the Industrial Adhesives Division and a Director of Vik Supplies Ltd. has been appointed to the Board of Evode Ltd. Mr. Vohralik joined the company ten years ago after two years with the Shoe & Allied Trade Research Association.
He is present Chairman of the technical Panel of the British Rubber & Resin Manufacturers Association.
During the following 10 years, there were a number of other Board appointments leading to Mr. Vohralik being appointed Managing Director of Evode Ltd. in 1973
As I have known Vasek Vohralik since before he joined the Evode Group of Companies, I have been asked for my comments regarding his involvement with the footwear industry and with Vik Supplies in particular.
Although it is stated that Vee joined SATRA in 1954 a number of people thought it was somewhat earlier. Mr Alan Carter is the only ex colleague still employed at SATRA although I believe he is due to retire very shortly. Vee had many friends at SATRA and in addition to his work as Chemist in charge of the rubber, plastics, and adhesives Laboratory, Alan well remembers the many excellent tennis matches in which Vee participated. He was certainly regarded by his colleagues as an excellent tennis player.
I left SATRA to join Vik Supplies Limited in 1951 and made frequent visits to SATRA to discuss adhesive techniques and problems. I well remember Vee being very critical of our system for bonding leather soles, leather at that time being the main soling material. The process involved the immersion of the adhesive coated sole into a blend of solvents which activated the adhesive and also made the leather sole quite soft greatly helping it to conform to the shape of the shoe bottom.
Vee’s concern was the effect of the retained solvent to say nothing of the health and safety aspects. Fortunately at that time, the sole bonding presses were very large multi-station machines and there is no doubt that the later twin station machines would have been totally unsuitable. Once Vee had moved to Evode he would have been involved with the rapid changes which took place in the footwear industry many of which demanded new types of adhesive.
I did not meet Vee socially on many occasions as I worked away from Stafford but I well remember visiting his home and being invited to play a game of draughts by his son, Peter, who would have been around twelve years of age at that time. Vee’s delight and pride in his family showed clearly in his face when after a “tough” game, Peter won!
Vee would not have been directly involved with Vik Supplies Ltd until the 1960s as up to that time the administration was conducted from Lotus Ltd., Sandon Road (East Block). However, Vik Supplies requirements for most solvent based adhesives were manufactured by Evode Ltd.
At the Sandon Road factories the nitrocellulose adhesive, latices and impregnated materials such as toe puffs and stiffeners were manufactured and would later be transferred to the Evode Group. During the 1950s many other soling materials were introduced which demanded a complete change from the mtrocellulose adhesive mainly used at that time. Although not directly involved, Vee and his staff would be working hard to evaluate the best type of adhesive to use on these new materials. A major change was the introduction of “Resin Rubber” which was supplied in sheets and for the first time enabled shoe manufacturers to cut soles in multi thicknesses greatly reducing the manufacturing costs. It also had much better wearing properties and would often last for the life of the shoe. Other new materials were microcellular and gristle rubber. The use of prefabricated unit soles was in its infancy. Modification to the adhesives used to suit the solings and a wide variety of adhesive applicators was necessary.
Lotus Limited used a U.K produced version of resin rubber and gave it the name “Lotex” which was produced by Sussex Rubber Ltd., of London and I am sure that the late Dr H Simon and Vee would have discussed the sole bonding aspects with the Etkind Brothers who visisted Stafford on a number of occasions. This product was also marketed to the industry by Vik Supplies Ltd.
Another major change which required adhesive development was the introduction of PVC as a soling material as the neoprene adhesive used for resin rubber etc., was no longer suitable. A great deal of research was necessary to produce a product which would work in a similar way to include such features as reasonable life of pie cemented soles and satisfactory re-activation properties. This was a difficult time for Vik Supplies Ltd as we had customers struggling to bond their PVC soles and uppers before the new polyurethane adhesives were perfected.
Once Vik Supplies were taken over by Evode and moved to Common Road, Vee would have been involved in the production of impregnated materials which had been transferred from Sandon Road. Once again, in addition to the production problems, new hot melt adhesives needed to be developed to meet the requirements of the different types of upper materials now in use.
The footwear industry had also moved from lasting shoes with tacks to a process known as cement lasting and specialised machinery was involved. New hot melt adhesives such as polyamides were developed to meet this requirement. A similar product was required for the newly introduced printed toe puff equipment which was gaining popularity.
Although the footwear industry appeared to be in permanent decline, it was also highly competitive with probably too many suppliers chasing the business. Vee was regularly asked to visit most of our major customers and I recall accompanying him to Lotus Ltd., British Bata, Newmans Footwear, and the British Shoe Corporation Factories to mention but a few. As Managing Director of Vik Supplies Ltd., Vee would arrange regular meetings to monitor the strictly controlled budgets. It was very hard to increase turnover when the footwear industry was in decline and the only way this could be done was introduce new products such as PVC granules and a wider range of toe puffs, including filmic types and hot melt adhesives.
The introduction of PVC granules was particularly successful and together with the latest soling to be introduced, thermoplastic rubber was to form the basis of a new company to be acquired namely, Evode Plastics Ltd.
In view of the fact that Vee worked for the Group for such a long time, I am sure there is much more that could be added, but I trust that this contribution will be of value.