The Revolution in Poland's Construction Materials Market


In the early 1990s, three engineers from Łódź discovered the benefits of polymer-modified dry-mix mortars. That discovery led to the founding of Atlas, one of the leading manufacturers of building materials in that country. WACKER has stood firmly by Atlas’ side from virtually the very outset.

It all began in the early 1990s, when three engineers Grzegorz Grzelak, Andrzej Walczak and Stanisław Ciupiński from Łódź first came across premixed tile adhesive on a Polish building site. The tile adhesive was being imported from Germany by a foreign client. Back then, just after the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989, it was still the norm to mix traditional mortar with cement, lime, sand and water directly on site. Ready-to-use mixes were simply too expensive in socialist-dominated Poland. The three engineers were therefore intrigued by the tile adhesive. It was unlike conventional mortars in that it could be applied evenly to walls without any problems. The tiles did not slip when laid and they were gripped straight away even though less adhesive was being used. Not only that, but the work was done much faster. “This was revolutionary at that time,” says Dr. Jacek Michalak, Vice-President of the Board for Development at Atlas.

WACKER opened its own Polish sales office in Warsaw back in 1992. The idea was to intensify business relations with eastern European neighbors shortly after the fall of the Iron Curtain.

Grzelak, Walczak and Ciupiński were seized with an ambition to make their own ready-to-use tile adhesive. So, they borrowed a cement mixer and set about producing their first batches in a garage – now admixing polymer-based binders to the sand, lime and cement. In February 1991, after months of tinkering, the three engineers launched their first ready-to-use tile adhesive onto the market. This marked the birth of building materials manufacturer Atlas. The factory-premixed tile adhesive made by the three men struck a chord with the Polish construction industry.

As purchasing power rose after the country opened up to the West, Poles increasingly clamored for high-end building materials. “Modern construction projects could be finished faster and built to a better standard with polymer-modified dry-mix mortars,” says Dr. Lena Schneider, sales director for WACKER construction polymers in Central and Eastern Europe. WACKER responded to this demand by opening up the Wacker Chemia Polska distribution unit in Warsaw in June 1992.