Last year, Wood-Mizer’s representatives in Ukraine came up with an advertising campaign designed to encourage their countrymen to look around them and find opportunities within the Ukraine for employment. Many Ukrainian young people have the perception that working outside of the country brings the best returns, and spend months at a time away from their growing families working in foreign lands.
“After talking to family and friends who had worked abroad about the difficulties they experienced,” shares Alexander Tverdohleb, CEO of Wood- Mizer Ukraine, “We asked ourselves why it had to be this way, when Ukraine is such a large country with many possibilities if you have determination and vision.”
Alexander and his team came up with a slogan, “Earn an income in your homeland”, and published the advert on billboards alongside roads and also ran TV adverts with the message.
The response to the creative advertising campaign was good, and they were contacted by a young man named Andrew, who was employed at a nearby plastic window and door manufacturer.
“I saw the advert,” shares Andrew, “And it started me thinking about the possibilities of opening my own business. I read all I could find about sawmilling, and then decided to visit Wood-Mizer Ukraine’s offices. While there, I saw a demonstration of the LT15 sawmill and it was love at first sight! ”
He decided that this was the route he wanted to take for his new business. To fund the sawmill purchase, he sold his Skoda Octavia and with those funds he bought the LT15 sawmill and an inexpensive work van. He rented a site and poured a cement floor. The specialists from Wood-Mizer Ukraine delivered the sawmill, set it up, and trained him on its use.
“I learned quickly,” Andrew recalls. He started sawing timber alone, but soon was busy enough to hire an assistant who has also learned how to saw. His customers are mostly locals who need small orders of boards for home projects or on the farm. At times, he is able to secure larger orders. Depending on the volume of orders, sometimes they work from dawn until late at night, and sometimes they only are sawing a few hours during the day.
“We do not rush through orders and ignore quality,” Andrew shares. “We offer our clients advice how to get the most out of their logs, and we monitor timber quality carefully.” Andrew is proud to share that although his business is new, a significant portion of the business is coming directly from word-of-mouth recommendations from his previous clients.
Oak, larch, pine and spruce are the most common species they cut for customers. In order to ensure quality, they keep a range of Wood-Mizer blades in stock that are designed for specific types and densities of wood. After a blade finishes cutting one cubic metre of finished timber, it is set aside for sharpening. They take the blade off the sawmill before it is too dull to continue sharpening, and also allow it to rest a few days before putting it back on the sawmill. This results in prolonged blade life through multiple sharpenings. Once a week, he sends used blade to Wood-Mizer Ukraine’s blade ReSharp service, and the blades are returned shortly afterwards, sharpened and ready to cut. The largest volume they have cut in one day is eight cubic metres.
Knowing that diversification will help his growing company withstand market instability, Andrew has already started to build and sell pallets. He also has identified two other areas for expansion; by adding a MP150 moulder/planer to the LT15 sawmill, he can produce moulded columns and beams for builders, and by investing in a mobile LT40 sawmill, he can cut timber at the client’s locations.
Is Andrew pleased he chose to stay and not try to find work abroad?
“Frankly, trying to find work abroad would be more financially risky that what I’m doing now,” he shares. “When you have to be away from your family for such long periods of time, you can potentially lose out on things much more valuable than money – your relationships. I don’t want my daughter growing up without a father. When I worked at the factory, I often left for work before she woke up and came home after she had already gone to bed.”
“Now that I have started my own business, I have more flexibility to plan my schedule and spend time with my family. I have to say that thanks to Wood- Mizer’s product, my wife and daughter have a husband and father that is able to come home to them every night. This is the advantage of choosing to stay at home and make it work.”
Author: Lubomir Koval, editor-in-chief of "DEREVOOBROBNYK" newspaper in Lviv, Ukraine