A big step for one family

A family business in rural Latvia leaped to the top in its field with the help of Kiilto.

Clouds are floating in the sunny sky above the factory of Kokapstrādes Group. There is a smell of pine resin in the air. On the production line of the factory, a computer is scanning planks and drawing the branches to be removed on a display. At the other end of the line, branch-free scantlings are gliding out, ready for delivery to factories in Europe and in China. There the material is used to make frames for windows and doors.

There is a stork’s nest on top of the water tank in the middle of the factory area. Here in rural Latvia there is nothing odd about this.

”The birds are not here now, they have already flown to Egypt, laughs Laimonis Onzuls, who founded the company around 20 years ago.

He says that the nest is already being used by the second generation of storks. A generational change is also underway at the factory. The title of managing director is now held by Onzuls’s daughter, Linda Grīnberga.

Laimonis Onzuls founded the business in 1994. The current managing director is Onzuls’s daughter, Linda Grīnberga.

Kokapstrādes Group

  • Based in Bērzaune, Latvia, Kokapstrādes Group builds mainly scantlings used in the manufacture of window and door frames.
  • Export destinations for the material include Italy, Germany, France and China.
  • The business employs 200 persons.
  • The annual turnover is approximately 9.5 million euros.
  • Laimonis Onzuls founded the business in 1994. The current managing director is Onzuls’s daughter, Linda Grīnberga.
  • Kokapstrādes Group is wholly owned by the Onzuls family.

Grīnberga is steering a business with a promising future. It has just invested around four million euros in a new production line, which was completed a year ago in September. The renovation made the factory the most modern one in its field in Europe, but the leap also involved risks.

”There were indications that a large German producer had problems with a corresponding process. It was important for us that Kiilto tested our samples from the start," explains Grīnberga.

Kiilto ensured that the gluing of the billets works on the new production line.

The scantlings of Kokapstrādes Group are used to make window and door frames at many factories in Europe and in China.

Competitive advantage with quality

Grīnberga says that the renovation aimed at more efficient production and uniform quality.

"We used to have to work up to 24 hours a day, seven days a week because the production was slow. The night shifts were not very productive, and the quality wasn’t uniform either," says Grīnberga.

She explains that the business has around ten competitors in Latvia who produce a similar level of quality. Now Kokapstrādes Group stands out from the rest with its more uniform quality. In the coming years it will concentrate on increasing its own share of the market for Latvian producers. Certain important customers now specify that they want to buy Kokapstrādes wood.

Last year, Latvia’s Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry awarded a “Golden Pinecone” to the business. It is awarded to the most innovative business in the field of forestry.

”That we can ensure the success of this kind of company with our products is important also for our own authority, says Kaspars Vinters, Managing Director of Kiilto Latvija..

”Of the total production costs, the share of adhesive is rather small. However, if the production line cannot use the most suitable kind of adhesive, problems easily arise and the costs also increase," explains Vinters.

When Kiilto ensures that the adhesive works on the production line, the customer can concentrate on other things, says Kaspars Vinters, Managing Director of Kiilto Latvija.

Laboratory know-how from Finland

Kokapstrādes Group is testing its products regularly in Kiilto’s laboratory, and it is now also building its own test laboratory.

”We intend to send employees to Kiilto in Finland to get know-how related to the activity of the laboratory," tells Grīnberga.

We already had good cooperation with Kiilto before this new line. This is not just about buying and selling. I would rather view us as partners.

Business is not always easy. Some time ago there was a fire at the facilities of Kokapstrādes Group while the new line was being installed.

The fire did not stop the growth of the family business. When the smoke had cleared, the storks too returned to their nest.

Photos: Nora Krevneva

Read the original article in Kontakti customer magazine