Zuzana Ceralová Petrofová: Communists took her family’s piano factory. Today, as a successful entrepreneur, she supports musical talents
As a child, Zuzana Ceralová Petrofová avoided music school. She studied pharmacy, but instead of pursuing a career in this field, nowadays she manages the family business, which is the largest producer of acoustic and upright pianos in Europe. She returns to art schools today in an unconventional way. Listen to Impact Talks podcast, where we bring inspiring stories of philanthropists and break taboos associated with this word.
The name Petrof is known throughout the musical world. Marcello Mastroianni and Paul McCartney sat at the piano from Hradec Králové, and American singer Billie Eilish composed the song “No Time to Die” for the eponymous Bond film on it.
Not only celebrities but also talented children from ordinary families play on pianos of the globally recognized brand. Thanks to Zuzana Ceralová Petrofová’s idea, 75 art schools have received new musical instruments worth over 11 million Czech crowns for free.
„My family has always helped people; my great-grandfather built a whole quarter in Hradec Králové.“
The “Pianos to Schools” project did not come easy; after initial rejection, it ended up in a drawer. Everything changed with a canceled order for a container full of pianos heading to China and one phone call.
In the podcast, you will learn:
- How the Petrof family helped in the past and what they are doing today,
- What connects them with the founder of the shoe empire, Tomáš Baťa,
- Why they had to buy back their nationalized factory after the fall of the communist regime,
- What COVID, China, and Taiwan have in common with the “Pianos to Schools” project,
- Why they joined forces with the Komárek family foundation for this project,
- How Petrof Art Family supports artists.
Zuzana Ceralová Petrofová continues the family tradition of piano manufacturing established by Antonín Petrof in 1864. As the director, she had to deal with various crises, including a sales decline during the pandemic, which threatened employee layoffs.
“I carry the name on my forehead. I have a great responsibility to my ancestors, and because we embarked on this journey after the revolution, we cannot give up. That is the way we were raised, with the understanding that you just don’t give up,“ says the successful entrepreneur about solving problems.
Keeping the family values
Maintaining the company requires significant effort. “The brand is worth it, that’s what always gives me strength. People around the world know it and love it. And when a pianist points to the instrument after a concert, bows, and people applaud, that’s why we do it,” she responds to the question of where she draws her energy.
Zuzana Ceralová Petrofová is an enthusiastic supporter of culture and musical talents. In Petrof, they transformed the old production hall in the factory complex into a modern cultural center with a musical café and a concert hall, where piano virtuosos, young talents, and art enthusiasts meet.
Her idea to exchange inadequate musical instruments in elementary art schools for new ones has literally turned into a nationwide initiative through collaboration with philanthropists Karol and Štěpánka Komárek. Zuzana Ceralová Petrofová considers helping others a natural thing.
“We have it in us. My family’s history has been carefully documented with the help of archivists. My family has always helped people; my great-grandfather built a whole quarter in Hradec Králové. When you have this in your family and see examples that it works and that it’s simply normal, you pass it on,” she explains her view on philanthropy.
Who is Zuzana Ceralová Petrofová
Representing the fifth generation of the Petrof family, she has been working at Petrof for almost a quarter of a century, serving as president for the twelfth year. For her managerial abilities, she has received numerous prestigious awards, including Manager of the Year 2014. A few years ago, she was inducted into the Hall of Fame in the TOP Women of Czechia 2020 poll. She regularly appears in Forbes magazine’s list of the most influential women.
She lives with her family in Hradec Králové. Every day, she goes for a swim, enjoys cooking, goes mushroom picking, and attends rock concerts.
She recently came to Bratislava as a guest of Pontis Foundation, participating in a discussion evening called Impact Talks on the topic of Women and Philanthropy. She expressed hope that the project of donating new pianos to art schools, following the example of our Czech neighbors, could also be initiated in Slovakia.
In the Impact Talks podcast, we talk to personalities from business, culture and sports who are breaking down the conventional ideas about philanthropy. Kind-hearted people who help intuitively and those who strive to make the biggest social impact. Because philanthropy is diverse and far from just about giving away money.
The podcast is produced in collaboration with Aktuality.sk and hosted by Milan Junior Zimnýkoval.
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