The very beginnings of Metalflex go back to the year 1959 when a group of four tradesmen in Most na Soči started to manufacture metal watch bands. In the following year, an act on foundation of a company for metal goods named Metalflex Most na Soči was accepted. The number of employees soon increased to 16 due to increased production volumes. A new product, bimetal thermometer, was added to the production programme. In the following years, production of metal goods was more and more abandoned. Instead, they started with the production of devices serving for temperature regulation and signalization.
The need to enlarge the production facilities became a necessity due to the increase of the production programme based on their own knowledge, and also due to unsuitable facilities which were located in six halls all around Most na Soči. In 1965, production was moved to the premises of the abandoned factory of milk sugar in Tolmin. Three years later, the whole company was moved there since new facilities for assembly, tooling and administration were built next to the existing ones. 140 people were employed in Metalflex in the year 1968. An intense increase of production programme started in this period, especially in the field of components for white goods, which have remained a key product till nowadays.
The activity of the company was expanding till the end of 80s that is why six smaller assembly plants were situated in Tolmin and Kobarid area: in Pečine, Tolminski Lom, Gorenja Trebuša, Dolenja Trebuša, Livek and Vrsno. These plants enabled the production to expand and at the same time they solved the problem of employment of the people living in these areas. The production in Pečine plant started in 1974 and was moved to new premises five years later. The plant in Tolminski Lom was opened in 1981 and a year later, the one in Gorenja Trebuša. Most of the premises were closed due to the merging of production capacities. Only the Pečine plant is still operating today.
New premises in Tolmin
The foundation stone for the present premises of the company in industrial zone Poljubinj was laid in 1977, but Metalflex moved there only two years later. The extension of new production premises was completed in 1987. Operation in the new premises and more modern technological equipment resulted in a whole range of new products introduced to the production process. What is more, a new branch of Metalflex production started to develop, i.e. industrial equipment, but the programme was sold out in 1996 due to the company’s orientation in the components for white goods. Even though Metalflex was one of the leading manufacturers of components for white goods in ex-Yugoslavia, the management of the company made a huge effort in reaching the foreign market with great competition. The production programme included more than 100 different products and their derivatives which were all made by local experts.
Company owned by Americans
After Slovenia gained its independence, the company got into financial problems due to the loss of Yugoslav market and rising debts for previous investments which were successfully solved already in the following years. In February 1999, Illinois Tool Works Inc. from the state of Illinois became a 100% owner of the company. Nowadays, ITW owns 850 companies with 60,000 employees all over the world and its annual revenues reach almost 18 billion dollars.