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The roots of present-day Gorenje can be traced back to the Špeh blacksmith shop operating in the village of Gorenje in the period immediately after World War II. After nationalization in 1950, it was renamed to District Metal Works Gorenje – a company with ten employees.

In March 1953, Ivan Atelšek, the first of Gorenje's visionary managers, was appointed head of the company. To him, improving performance of the shop was far from enough; he sought to develop the workshop into a real enterprise. He reorganized the company, improved labour efficiency, upgraded the products, and extended the production program. The range of fruit mills was a success, and Gorenje's thresher machine was even awarded a patent in 1956. This is viewed as the kick-off point of employee innovation at the company; to this day, it was followed by over 150 patents and numerous innovation awards.