Domel celebrates 75 years

Our story of success began 75 years ago. On 27 April 1946, at the initiative of Niko Žumer, 16 brave men signed an important document that brought NIKO, a manufacturing cooperative of metalworkers with limited guarantee, into this world.

The lack of iron ore in the immediate area, of railway connections and, above all, of technological sophistication had heralded the end of several centuries of ironworking. As the last iron ore was smelted in the furnace in 1902 (Demšar, 1973) and the last blacksmith lay down his hammer and extinguished the fire in his hearth at 10 o’clock in the morning on one June day in 1909, the ironworking industry came to an end (Polajnar, 1916). People moved away to look for work and the population more than halved. In 1906 the Naš list weekly newspaper wrote that there was severe poverty in Železniki and that they would soon be saying that ‘Železniki [was] no more’ (Gortnar, A., 2016). Forty years of great poverty followed and Železniki became known, in the time of old Yugoslavia, as the second poorest town in the Drava Banovina (Polajnar, 2021).

Today it is 75 years since our brave predecessors began writing the history of modern industry in Železniki and Selška Dolina. It was by no means an easy task, but with courage, fortitude and vision, they realised their dreams and the dreams of the people of Železniki for a better life.

Seventy-five years of development and innovation have driven the company forward at every turn. We have also connected this year’s Domel Awards for Innovation to the notions of tradition and forward thinking, and have invited Peter Polajnar, the only founding member of the cooperative still alive, to take part. You can listen to his contribution:

Today, as the successor to the Niko manufacturing cooperative, Domel continues to fulfil its founding mission to provide high-quality jobs for its workforce, not only locally at its modernised plants in Železniki, Trata and Reteče, but also globally at its successful manufacturing locations in Serbia and China. The legacy passed on by our predecessors provides us with a model and, at the same time, imposes on us a commitment to continue the tradition and, through continued sustainable development, pass it on to the generations to come.

Bogataj, F., 2014. Štalca, halštatska naselbina [Štalca, a Hallstatt settlement] Železne niti 11. Muzejsko društvo Železniki, 2014, p. 129.
Albrecht, 1354. Deed of Gift. BayHStA, HU Freising 311.
Polajnar, P., 2016. Oživitev kovinarske dejavnosti v kraju [The revival of metalworking in the district] Železni kruh [Iron bread] (ed. M., Naglič), Železniki, p. 122.
Polajnar, P., 2021. Naših 75 let [Our 75 Years]. Speech marking the 75th anniversary of the founding of Domel.
Demšar, V., 1973. Drobtinice iz zgodovine Železnikov v drugi polovici 19. stoletja [Miscellaneous details from the history of Železniki in the second half of the 19th century] Selška dolina v preteklosti in sedanjosti (Selška Dolina past and present] Muzejsko društvo v Škofji Loki, Železniki sub-committee, Železniki, p.
Gortnar, A., 2016. Zaton železarstva ob koncu 19. stoletja [The decline of ironworking at the end of the 19th century] Iron bread (ed. M., Naglič), Železniki, 2016, p. 74.