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Good relations and fair prices Czech-mate the local timber processing game
A builder from the Czech Republic fulfills the dream of his own small timber business.
Vladimir Vrsek from the Czech city of Krivoklat, 30 kilometres south of Prague, has long dreamed about wood.
Although a construction engineer, he and his svager (brother-in-law) Ivon Krob considered several different business ideas since the early 1990s.
"After the ‘Velvet Revolution’ I managed a municipal heating system firm which was being privatised. I left it to start my own business", he recalls.
"First, we thought of producing briquettes from wood waste – a sort of sustainable combustible!
"We did our calculations, researching the market and traveling around to gauge people’s interest in buying briquettes.
"However, we soon saw that it was unlikely we’d be able to acquire the necessary amounts of wood waste to produce enough briquettes for a viable enterprise.
"Farmers were actively buying wood waste for their own needs", Vladimir Vrsek explains. Even so, such an entrepreneur does not heart and investigations revealed another idea with good prospects.
"Conversations with various people revealed a surprising shortage of sawn lumber on the market", says Vladimir Vrsek. Armed with this intelligence he and his partner took an interest in modern wood cutting technologies and that brought them to the Czech city of Klatovy and Miroslav Greill, director of Wood-Mizer Servis.
"Miroslav Greill advised that we watch sawmills in operation before reaching any conclusion. He took us to a working timber production operation at Pribram, 80 km from Prague.
"Here we watched a Wood-Mizer sawmill in action for the first time. This was 1996 and it was a revelation."
"The technology looked so simple and effective. We liked it at once."
In 1997, he and Ivon Krob bought an hydraulic Wood-Mizer LT40 sawmill which saws six metres long logs into boards and other products. However, seeing a market for eight metres long boards, they designed and built a bed extension for the mill.
"I am a ‘builder’, which explains my search for an energy efficient solution because I run the sawmill myself. When we discovered the Wood-Mizer machine, I realized at once that this was the best solution on the market".
Thirteen years have passed and the Wood-Mizer sawmill continues to operate at the firm of Pila Vrsek & Krob, converting spruce and firs into boards and construction elements for wooden buildings. The company is not big, with four to five people working there, depending on the season. Three of them are sawmill operators.
The sawmill operates eight hours, five days a week and half a day on Saturday. It produces about 160 m3 of sawn lumber per month in the summer and about 120 m3 per month in the winter. The Wood-Mizer band blades are sharpened and set on site and each month an additional box of fifteen new blades is delivered
"Over the past thirteen years we’ve suffered no serious breakages or repairs.
"Anyway, what could happen? The Wood-Mizer sawmill has a novel and simple construction which is reliable while delivering high quality sawn wood", extols Vladimir Vrsek.
But competitors don’t sleep. There are three sawmills in the neighbourhood. One is a huge state enterprise with 50 workers.
"Our sawn timber prices are not the lowest", he admits.
"In our trade we maintain good relations with people and charge them a fair price. That way we almost can’t go wrong!"
So Vladimir Vrsek’s dreams came true. He created a business that supplies him not only with a livelihood but also fulfillment and a bit of time for his pastimes. Indeed, he has several hobbies.
His children are grown up. The eldest son, 42, is an economics consultant in Prague. The youngest, 31, is a talented car electrician. His wife Jitka, a sommelier, markets a number of vintage wines from the Moravian region. Sixty-four years old Vladimir Vrsek rides a Suzuki motor cycle with friends at a motor club, of which he is administrator. The club is in an old quartz mine called Pekelny Doly near Ceska Lipa, general known as the ‘Bikers’ Mecca’! He also follows the Slavia Praha football team.
The family lives in a house that Jitka Vrsek inherited and its entirely wood interior was made and fitted by Vladimir himself. Their life is full of emotions, adventures and of course their business with the Wood-Mizer sawmill.
Photo: Miroslav Greill (left), chief of Wood-Mizer Servis in Czech, and Mr Vladimir Vrsek on PRAGOLIGNA show in November 2010.
Pila Vrsek + Krob
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