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How band saw processing of oak can help sell beverages
Wood-Mizer sawmill has appeared at the heart of interesting project

How band saw processing of oak can help sell beverages On the western side of Poland, some hundred kilometres from the border with Germany lies the small city of Siedlec. Here we find Spoiw-Candi S.J, a manufacturing company producing alcoholic drinks. We have come to meet with the family, which produce one of the most original vodka bottle packages in Poland. Spoiw-Candi is a successful family business, established in 1982 and proudly run by two brothers Jerzy and Leszek Markiewicz. Jerzy, the elder brother explains…

"I have worked hard all my life at a variety of jobs including pig farming and growing field mushrooms. Twenty three years ago I came to this place which at the time was being run as a vegetable dye fabric operation. We produced sixty tons of vegetables per day. Unfortunately the 1990’s saw the decline of power-consuming industries and we were forced to reconsider our options.

I would never have believed that I would one day be licensed to run a business producing and trading alcohol, especially as during the ‘Soviet Period’, this industry was strictly controlled.

The French cognac company Jean Paul Kamus became our main partner. The success of yet another large wine supplier, Granche de France set a standard for us to strive toward. They sell 80 million bottles of J.P.Chenet per year – about 3 bottles per second. Here in Poland production is up to 2 bottles per minute.

Four years ago we decided to develop our own product "Vodka Debowa" which translates as "Oak Vodka". The problem arose, ‘how could we launch our new drink on the market when it is illegal to directly advertise alcoholic drinks in Poland’

That is when we started to decorate the glass bottles with an oak surface and put them into beautiful wooden boxes. By appearing to advertise the packaging and not the product, we established an acceptable new marketing ploy whilst maintaining the integrity of the traditional Polish product.

Oak Vodka itself is very soft and produces no headaches as a side affect. The light-brown colour is caused through exposure in oak barrels. A similar process to that of making cognac. A long oak chip in the bottle produces a soft fragrant originality to the product.

Four years after our successful launch in Poland we began exporting. Currently we send our winning vodka to France, Australia and Germany. We have won awards in Bordeaux and Chicago. Both China and Japan are showing an interest.

We have developed and patented our own bottling technology using both oak and beech timber. We use short logs or even thick knot lengths no less than 33cm thick. Cylinders are cut from a log step by step, decreasing the diameter according to the appropriate bottle volumes. The central core is used for cork production. The wooden wastes are employed in the kiln boiler. This technology as you can see is almost waste- free.

We are fortunate to be able to buy in cheap timber. In addition to our cylindrical bottle package we produ ce 30.000 pine presentation boxes for our bottles each month. We use the Wood-Mizer LT20 sawmill which we purchased two years ago. Prior to that we used an old power-saw bench with poor results. The LT20 is an extremely reliable machine which cuts at high quality both wet and dry kiln oak and pine. We cut beams into boards of 12mm thickness by 140mm wide. The LT20 sawmill provides us with the best of precision cuts, teamed with quality and reliability. The very best we could wish for.

Our woodwork factory also produces a variety of products for the garden such as flooring, planks, borders etc. Initially an individual worker could manually produce 120 borders of 2m in length on a wire saw per shift. I developed a device to mechanise this process. The employee now simply loads blanks into a device which then assembles, levels and stretches them on a wire and saws them. 160 staples are hammered in place in 20 seconds.

We also diversify to produce pegs for vineyards. We have our own trucks which travel to France to supply our French partners with the pegs produced from 12.000-14.000 m3 of thin logs annually. After cutting, the pegs are dried and impregnated with solution as per our partner’s instructions. It’s interesting that one cube of wood absorbs up to 400 litres of solution. Our export of between 140 and 160 trucks of pegs provides us with 10% of our overall annual income and keeps our woodworking shop in employment all year round.

Our products can even now be found in food outlets in Poland and we are striving to build on our success. I’m glad woodworking became my hobby".

"Woodworking News", Belarus
July 2005

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