Kalas Sportswear is a leading proprietary manufacturer of custom cycling apparel Europe. Born more than 30 years ago out of a passion for cycling, the company has a rich cycling heritage and prides itself on top quality, product innovation and outstanding customer service. Kalas remains a family-owned company, dedicated to supporting the local community of Tábor at its headquarters in the Czech Republic.
How it all started
Čestmír Kalaš was born in České Budějovice Czechoslovakia in 1943 and first fell under the spell of cycling at the age of 15. As a youth he represented the Slavoj České Budějovice club. He then did his military service and represented the army club Dukla Český Krumlov, where he first wore the national jersey at races in Montenegro.
Later, he smoothly transitioned into the role of a coach and ended his active racing career at the age of 29. in 1971 there were two strong clubs in Tábor, with several promising young talents in their ranks. Kalaš noticed this and began to advise the younger athletes on how to train..
The team did not function as a top club and lacked sufficient financial resources for its operation. However, Kalaš was not going to accept the idea of the team disappearing. It was in the autumn of 1990, when the Czechoslovak representatives, led by Kalaš, went to Switzerland to compete. There he was approached by a local businessman who invited Čestmír to lunch, during which he asked Čestmír if he would be able to arrange the production of cycling clothing for his brand in Czechoslovakia.
"This leap into the unknown offered a glimmer of hope for the future of the Tábor club, where he served as coach and chairman. This opportunity could deliver the financial means with which to provide support for his athletes. He was 47 years old."
With a completely new and unexpected business plan in mind, Čestmír Kalaš returned to Tábor, where he immediately started making the necessary steps to set up his own production for custom cycle wear.
He had no economic education. He never aspired to become a successful entrepreneur. But, when his beloved Tábor cycling club fell upon hard times he felt compelled to act to help them. This was the only impetus he needed to embark upon his journey into the complex business of custom cycle wear production.
Čestmír Kalaš himself would never claim that he built the company alone. The most fortunate meeting and the greatest help he received was courtesy of Petra Filipová, who undoubtably steered the production in the right direction.
Čestmír Kalaš never fails to thank all the employees who helped him build the company and who keep it running successfully today. When asked about what he is most proud of, he answers without hesitation that he is very happy that there is always a friendly family atmosphere throughout the building.
Continuing the family tradition
He led the company until 2015. Then in his early seventies, he handed it over to his grandson Jakub Věncek and second managing director Josef Filip, son of Petra Filipová. Still family owned, Kalas Sportswear remains rooted in its community. It employs over 220 people from the South Bohemia region and sells to more than 50 countries worldwide.