In the middle of May, the manufacture of concrete paving stones will commence in Riga, Bolderāja. JSC (AS) NordBrik prides itself on being a modern, professional, customer-oriented Latvian manufacturer, which pays the utmost attention to quality and the broad range of paving processing options provided by modern technologies.
NordBrik is a manufacturer of small concrete products. The HESS manufacturing facility, which offers the widest range of products and the most up-to-date paving processing technologies in the Baltic States and Scandinavia, is at the factory’s disposal. NordBrik is the only paving manufacturer in Latvia, which has established its own professional laboratory for the purposes of quality control.
One of the advantages of setting up a brand new company was being able to implement our own vision of responsible entrepreneurship. Gatis Liniņš, Chairman of the Board of JSC (AS) NordBrik, talks about the establishment of the factory.
What determined your choice to establish a new manufacturing unit in Latvia?
The idea of setting up a new factory was motivated by a number of factors – both the progressing economic situation in the area of road building and the construction industry in general, and the purposefulness of the professionals in our industry as well as an interested team of investors. Putting all this together results in a good and balanced foundation.
Our team consists of experienced sales professionals, the production manager, the manufacturing operator and the factory manager. All of these people have considerable experience, which is highly appreciated by customers.
I personally have been in the small concrete product manufacturing business for more than ten years. Our teams common vision is to form and develop the company as a strong market leader. It is important for us to organise the corporate management of the company in clear terms, with transparent financial management, investments in the development of personnel and fully-fledged customer service. We believe that the manufacturing practice we introduced within our company will become a quality benchmark for the industry in the future.
The small concrete product manufacturing industry, including the paving manufacturing industry, has undergone changes. While there were approximately 80 paving manufacturing units of various sizes in Latvia ten years ago, now there are approximately 10 competitive manufacturers left on the market. Changes in the market have forced manufacturers to make changes themselves. At the moment, we can see good market prospects for the next four, five years, because the road construction is continuing to grow and develop. The private sector has also become more demanding and opts for good-quality products.
Why did you choose Bolderāja as the location for the factory?
Bolderāja has historically been a highly developed manufacturing hub in Riga. Several options were considered for the establishment of the new manufacturing unit, including whether to buy an existing factory or build a new one. Eventually, we chose an existing factory located in Bolderāja that had been inactive in recent years but offered significant advantages in comparison with competitors, namely its geographical location, its proximity to the port and its capacity. Based on technical parameters, the factory offers the highest capacity available in Latvia.
What are the parameters for good concrete paving?
Good-quality paving can be measured by a number of technical and visual indicators. For us, quality begins with the modernising manufacturing equipment, purchasing good-quality raw materials and ensuring quality control during manufacture. We are the only manufacturer with our own quality control laboratory and experienced specialist. Furthermore, as a team that has been in the industry for many years, we have a lot of knowledge and a clear vision on how to manufacture quality products.
What added value can concrete paving manufacturers provide for their products?
Quality service and innovative products. Ensuring quality service is NordBrik’s guiding principle in everything we do. Our experienced sales team knows how to serve both individual and large industrial objects with respective specific characters. Every customer wants to be special, and to us our customers really are. Any company can manufacture paving, but the next step is the involvement of the manufacturer both in planning and on-site consultations when laying the product as well as subsequent maintenance. We want to set a new standard for manufacturing and customer service, and I hope that in doing so we’ll help promote the overall development of the industry. We are not afraid of competition, it keeps us on our toes and prevents us from resting on our laurels.
When setting up the company, one of our basic principles was to keep up with global concrete manufacturing trends and offer the latest solutions to our customers. We have gotten off to a successful start in this regards. Besides basic rectangular paving stones, we also offer paving stones that are washed and impregnated, and come with an authentic stone texture. At the moment, our customers can already opt for a special colour mix technology, which allows for the deposition of a mixture of various pigments on the paving surface. While similar products are already available on the market, we are working with state-of-the art technology. The introduction of such innovations requires certain investments, but we can see that our customers in Latvia and Scandinavia are becoming more demanding, and so we ensure that we meet these increasing demands.
One of the current trends is the appearance of niche products, not only in terms of specialised individual projects, but also in terms of municipal projects, such as construction of streets and squares in the cities and towns of Latvia. NordBrik’s newly established manufacturing unit is equipped with the latest technologies available in Eastern and Northern Europe to manufacture not only standard products, but also specific ones. We are actively looking at Scandinavia because we see the market for our exclusive products there. We are cooperating with landscape architects to develop exciting offers.
How can you measure quality? Buyers, nowadays, are very well-informed. What are your goals in this regard?
Today’s buyers are much better informed than they were ten years ago. We have to thank the Latvian Association of Landscape Architects, which gathers development-oriented landscape architects who no longer see the ruling grayness and work hard to find solutions for a richer range of products both in terms of shapes and processing. We’ve already been actively working with our customers by informing them on innovations in the sector and the factors they should pay attention to. Our goal is to educate our customers, to help them and to encourage them to ask and look for advice when they encounter difficulties. Not all manufacturers are ready for such close cooperation.
What would you say characterizes demand for your product? Which will be the key markets?
The current market is growing very rapidly because the availability of European structural funds promotes the development of the construction and road building industry. Several central streets are being repaired simultaneously in Riga alone, and squares and educational institutions are also being improved. Farms have also become more active, as has private construction, which is also behind high demand for our products. For the next several years, we are also looking at the Rail Baltica project, the implementation of which will require a large volume of concrete products. As an example, the airport and central station alone are to be considered large-volume construction projects.
As I mentioned before, customers have become better informed and more demanding. Customers are not be satisfied with just a grey slab of concrete, they want something more interesting, and we are out to offer just that. At the moment, we offer our products in the Baltic States and have also commenced negotiations with Scandinavian partners.
What is your planned initial manufacturing capacity? Does your company have access to sufficient labour?
Our average daily manufacturing capacity is 4,500 square meters. The manufacturing line is completely automated, and manual work is more required for related processes. Upon launching the factory, we had access to all the technologies, raw materials and human resources we needed.
The NordBrik team consists of 25 people, which is an optimum number of employees for a manufacturing of this kind. Just as elsewhere in Latvia, there are problems in relation to the involvement of employees with a low level of qualification, which is why we are establishing training and motivation programmes for our personnel.
How much was invested in the set-up of the factory? What were the most expensive aspects of the project and did you receive any EU funding?
A total of 3.5 million euros was invested in the establishment of the factory, with the purchase of the factory itself, the modernisation of equipment and the purchase of raw materials accounting for most of the costs. In addition to contributions from investors, the company also received a bank loan. We are planning to recover investments within 5 to 7 years. We are entering the market with a wide range of products that is oriented not only to the public sector. We can see our growth on the Baltic and Scandinavian markets, where customers are interested in diverse products.
What makes you different from your competitors, and what are NordBrik’s priorities?
Quality and an offering of innovative products are still topical in the concrete paving industry. We have the most modern, highest-capacity manufacturing facility in Latvia and our own laboratory, and our manufacturing processes and quality are certified by Kiwa Inspecta – a professional industrial entity recognised across Europe.
As a manufacturing company, we are also environmentally conscious: we use green energy, we have tidies up the natural spaces adjacent to the plant and established our very own green point, which enables local residents in the vicinity of Bolderāja to be responsible and engage in sorting of waste. Anyone can drop off glass, plastic and paper in special bins.