The brush factory in Bielsko-Biala is a historically unique place. The address and company profile, unchanged for 146 years, are related to the fate of several generations of people who have jointly contributed to the image of the company.
The plant started its history in 1876. In Biala near Bielsko, brothers Albert and Erich Sennewaldt started the first Austrian brush factory called “Gebrüder Sennewaldt”. It produced a wide range of brushes for shoes and clothes, and different types of paintbrushes.
Initially, specialists from Germany and Austria-Hungary were employed, but the techniques required to manually make brushes were soon mastered by the workers from Bielsko and Biala. At the turn of the century, the factory employed 50 people, including 15 Poles. In a flash, it became the only European supplier of brushes to the court of Emperor Franz Joseph, which undoubtedly confirmed the quality and class of its products. The company products were well known and popular at the aristocratic courts and exclusive hotels throughout Europe, which is proven by numerous awards and honours, including the title of the “Provider of the Imperial Court in Vienna”. As a confirmation, the products displayed the image of a lying deer – the registered trademark Favorite.
The beginning of the 20th century and the technical revolution brought progress to the factory.
Even then, the plant boasted a modern steam engine and lighting system, and the first wood processing machines. In the production process bristles and the hair of horses, goats, badgers, polecats, martens, squirrels, skunks and bears were used. Among other things, rice roots and coconuts were processed. The wood used was oak, beech, sycamore, lime, spruce as well as hardwood. The production already included toothbrushes, shaving brushes, as well as brushes for clothes, hair, polishing, mud, horse care, paint brushes and wall brushes.
Its products were placed on the markets in Austria-Hungary, the Balkan countries, Russia, Switzerland, Italy, and also Egypt and South America.
The year 1914, just before the outbreak of the World War I, was critical for Poles. Due to lack of demand, only 6 days per month were worked. The beginning of the war required the expansion of the army. Military orders improved the difficult situation and the years 1914-1918 saw the dynamic development of the factory. A new three-story building was erected then. Employment increased to 400 people. In the following years, with the following economic stagnation, the factory began to collapse. Jobs were cut, and mainly Poles were laid off.
It was only in 1935 that the economic situation improved in Poland and the factory increased its production and employment. Until the outbreak of the World War II, the factory employed 450 people, including 40 clerks. On 3 September 1939, when the Nazi army entered the territory of Bielsko, a difficult time began for the Poles working in the factory. After its relaunch, only Germans were employed, and the production shifted to meet the needs of the occupying forces. At that time, the employment was about 600 people, including 100 Poles.
In 1930, in parallel to the operation of the Sennewaldts’ factory, production was started in “Sanax”, a brush factory founded and run by brothers Henrik and Wolf Goldberg for nine years. It was a small plant with several dozen employees. As a result of the war turmoil, during the occupation it was managed, under the order of the German authorities, by the former employee of the “Sennewaldt Brothers”, Pawel Kołaczek. On 12 February 1945, by the decision of the Ministry of Industry, the plant was taken over, secured and given a new name - the Brush Factory “Sanax”, under state administration.
At that time, ruined by the German occupation, the “Sennewaldt Brothers” factory launched its first brush production. Its activities were, at that time, supervised by the Polish authorities, and the Board of the Accessory Industry in Katowice gave a new name to the factory - the Brush Factory Sennewaldt Brothers, under state administration, Biala Krakowska, 7 Paderewskiego Street.
In 1950, “Sennewaldt Brothers” and “Sanax” were merged into one state-owned company – the Brush Factory in Bielsko-Biala.
For nearly 70 years the factory was owned by the Sennewaldt family. The war times brought enormous damages and many organisational changes, which had a destructive effect on the condition of the plant. Only the technical progress in the 1950s made it possible to reactivate the company, which resulted in a steady increase in production and a renewed expansion into foreign markets. The products were shipped not only to the then socialist countries, but also to those highly economically developed. The constantly improved quality of products and flexible assimilation of new technological solutions meeting the requirements of foreign customers have restored the company’s reputation of a thriving plant.
Exactly on the centenary of the factory, on 6 July 1976, the plant was transformed into the Disabled Cooperative “Bielsko-Biala Brush Factory”, which became the vocational rehabilitation centre for the disabled. Under the abbreviated name of “Befaszczot”, the plant was developing dynamically and the achieved production and financial results quickly made it a leader in the industry in Poland. As an exporter, the company is successful mainly in Denmark, Finland, Sweden, Great Britain, Germany, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, and in recent years very intensively in Russia. Befaszczot has received numerous awards at international fairs and exhibitions, and its products and the professional and partnership cooperation have been acknowledged.
In 2012, the company was transformed into a limited liability company, continuing to work for the employment and rehabilitation of the disabled. Investments in modern and efficient machinery and new production lines made it possible to improve the quality of production and adapt it to the modern requirements of the world markets.
The brush products manufactured by Befaszczot are of natural origin, and thus are neutral to the environment. Handles, sticks and brush frames are made of selected beech wood with FSC Certificate. In the bristles of the brushes, natural raw materials are used, such as plant fibres – Tampico, sea grass, coconut, and raw materials of animal origin – Chinese (pig) bristle and horse tail and mane hair, as well as PET, PPN and other mixtures specified by the customer.
After 144 years, the current management board of Befaszczot Sp. z o. o. returns to the original FAVORITE trademark, creating products of excellent quality with interesting patterns and colours as well as excellent functional properties. The new products are reminiscent of the design at the end of the XIX century and beginning of the XX century when the raw material and the quality of workmanship were of paramount importance.
The most extensive group of products is painting tools with the BEFASZCZOT logo and it includes paint brushes and rollers for various purposes and applications. The company also carries out individual orders, adapting production to the requirements of raw materials, finish and quality provided by the customer.
Since the beginning of its existence, from the Sennewaldt brothers’ workshop until now, the enterprise managers have set themselves one goal – the top-quality product, and the motto of the founder brothers: “Goods without objection – careful execution – low prices” which has been reflected in the company’s activities for 145 years now.