This year the Joint Stock Company "P. Varkojis ir Ko" from Kurmaičiai, which exports about 70 per cent of its timber production to Holland, England, and Germany, has been focusing on increasing work productivity through introduction of new equipment and technologies. A multi-functional robot was assembled and is being used; rennovation works on dye-house are also being completed.
The Company Employs a Robot
Even though economic experts regularly emphasize that Lithuania has low productivity, the spouses and owners of the company “P. Varkojis ir Ko” Jūratė and Pranas Varkojai together with their son Vaidas Varkojis strongly invest in productivity-enhancing innovations of their company. The largest investment in 2012 - a complex woodworking equipment “scm” made in Italy, which is already in use. “That is a robot performing many functions at the same time as producing a number of profiles of 68 and 92 mm thick windows, it selects and changes the necessary tools, the number of which can be up to 36 and even up to 50,” Vaidas Varkojis explained. The advantages of this equipment are speed, accuracy and quality. The robot is invaluable for complex manufacturing of arched windows, as it works out precise configurations of the required form. The capacity of the robot is very important to the company that makes furniture. "Because of this device it is possible to carve drawings on the production, as well as the signature of the future owner or his wife's name,” said Jūratė Varkojienė with a smile. In the workshop, the decoration of stained galss doors made using the “scm” machine were especially attractive. A specialist from Italy came to Kurmaičiai and for two weeks was teaching how to use this device that has special software.
“We need qualified specialists to be able to manage this complex device and we are delighted to have them. They are Arūnas Savickas and Ramūnas Sendžius – young men who also know their English,” Jūratė Varkojienė stated.
The Dry-House Will Not Stop The Process
The Varkojis family acknowledges that the process of dyeing took the longest period of time in the manufacturing process: “That was especially true in winter. We also had two shifts in order to speed up the work,” - remembered Jurate Varkojienė. The dye-house was rennovated from its foundation; the entrepreneurs brought down and transformed the walls, and are installing new equipment in the rennovated rooms. Earlier, 18-20 hours were needed to dry a window painted with high-quality paint; from now on it will be 2-3 times faster in the rennovated drying room. “It will speed up the whole process of production, window shoeing, and other. Currently, under usual circumstances we are normally capable of producing about 1,000 sq m a month; with the start of exploitation of the new dryer-house we expect to produce up to 1500 sq m” - Vaidas Varkojis said.
Currently, a 92 mm thick window made by "P. Varkojis ir Ko", manufactured following the European standards, is the most popular good. The enterprise was the first one to produce this warm window from wood in Lithuania. “Others obtain the same window thickness via wood using aluminium. Our produced 92 mm thick window, compared to the one of 68 mm thick, saves the heat twice as much,” - Jurate Varkojienė said.
Increasing Demand for Pellets
A desire to buy wood pellets manufactured by “P. Varkojis ir Ko” in winter is useless. That is because if you order pellets now, your order would be placed only for the end of the coming February. The pellets by this company are produced only from the generated wood waste, the quantity of which is limited. However, the pellets produced by the company are of especially high quality because they do not contain any tree bark nor sand impurities found in the tree bark. “Our produced pellets are of light color. They are such high-quality that completely burn down and after one opens the boiler after a month of use there is virtually nothing to clean,” Jūratė Varkojienė states. It is convenient to transport and keep the plastic bags filled with pellets even in the open air. According to manufacturers, heating using pellets is three times cheaper than heating with electricity and twice cheaper than heating using gas. The most expensive part installing the pellets heating system is a special boiler, which costs up to 10 thousand litas and more. The boilers are manufactured by companies “Kalvis” in Lithuania, “Grandeks” in Latvia; it is possible to buy one from Sweden as well but the price is much higher.
This year more than 2000 wooden garden houses produced by the company were sold abroad.
Wooden Garden Houses Are Exported From Lithuania
About 40 per cent of the company's production is wooden garden houses, the other 60 per cent is windows, doors, and furniture (beds). The major part of garden houses made in Kurmaičiai are sold abroad. Foreigners who buy the the wooden garden houses put them in gardens, use as garages for bicycles or motorcycles; keep ponies in them or even arrange the small houses into offices. “For some reasons, Lithuanians use our wooden garden houses only as an arbor for barbaques. Usually, in order to save money, people build a house without the farm part. The wooden garden houses we offer could be used as a pantry to store garden tools or a mower. In winter, it is possible to put a heater in our garden house and use it for the outdoor trade or other needs,” - Jūratė Varkojienė reasons. In her observation, the English who work at home, for example, accountants by profession, usually put their garden house in their garden and transform it into an office. Psychologists note that a worker, who can lock the door of his living facilities and unlock the door of the work place, feels much better and is more productive at work.
Foreign artists use the wooden garden houses in their summer tours as a changing room. “We hope that Lithuanians will discover the different ways to use our manufactured wooden garden houses,” Jūratė Varkojienė said. The business woman also added that exporting their production and earning in another currency they suffer additional expenses from currency exchange. “We pay for raw materials in litas. We are delighted to be able to choose a bank to work with and we are currently working with DnB Nord Bank, which offers the lowest currency exchange rates,” Jūratė Varkojienė told.
Son Shared Mother's Burden
In the year 2014 the company “P. Varkojis ir Ko” will celebrate its twentieth anniversary. Jūratė, at the of age 31 and Pranas, at the age of 35 started their business in their own barn on their own homestead in Kurmaičiai, where four people worked using their own made loom. They bought the current base foundation at the collapse of the Kurmaičiai Soviet poultry farm for money borrowed from Juratė's father. It is not a secret that Jūratė shared in her husband's business avoiding to pide work tasks into male or female. Today she is especially happy to have an assistant – their son Vaidas. "Vaidas is the director of production. He is Pranas's main assistant. He has been working at the company for fourteen years, starting from various minor tasks; once, when he was only a teenager, we found him working on his own at the working loom," Jūratė Varkojienė told. Vaidas graduated from college with a Speciality of the Elements of Interior Design and Manufacturing. At first, he worked at a timber company that did not belong to his parents but later he changed jobs to help his parents. Vaidas is fully responsible for the production of pellets.
The number of employees is 120 and has been stable for many years. “We have almost no staff turnover. People are loyal and attached to the company because they have been working from the beginning of the company.” Jūratė Varkojienė is happy about her staff. She is grateful to her staff that this ending year is not worse than the year before 2011.