In June this year Zagu Serviss Ltd, which deals in bandsaw blades and the manufacture and servicing of woodworking machinery, opened three more shops in Latvia.

It is a remarkable feat for a company that was only established in 1997 with just five employees.

Assistant director Nauris Jansons explained: ‘We now have the largest on-site inventory of used woodworking machinery in Latvia and employ 26 people, 19 of them in the workshop.’

The company started to produce its own woodworking equipment in spring 2000. ‘We manufacture multi-rip saws, sharpeners for bandsaw blades, shelfers, equipment for producing log houses, transporters and so on,’ said Mr Jansons. ‘But our main field of interest is bandsaw blades which we produce for foresters, sawyers and carpenters.’

The company, which is based in Ogre, purchases its strip steel for the bandsaw blades from Uddeholm in Sweden and Forestill in France. ‘We have been importing steel ourselves since 2000, giving us keen prices against our competitors,’ said Mr Jansons. ‘This has enabled us to quadruple our bandsaw sales during the last year.

‘We make teeth for the blades with a French punch, and weld with Ideal welding machines from Germany, enabling us to produce very high quality bandsaw blades. We are able to undercut our competitors as we have a very cheap workforce compared to countries such as Sweden, Germany and France.’

Mr Jansons said the opening of the three new shops will enable the company to get closer to its customers and provide services closer to their sawmills. ‘We still have a lot of work to do to get more customers to use our services, but we hope to expand as we have great specialists at our company.’

Mr Jansons said Latvia is full of old, second-hand Soviet machinery, but now customers are looking for better quality machines.

Recognition of this led Zagu to establish contacts with Swedish traders, and it is now importing used machinery from Sweden.

‘If we do not have something in stock, we have plenty of information about equipment we can obtain from Sweden,’ he said. ‘Swedish sellers can offer us much better prices than companies in western Europe. As we now have a lot of business partners in Sweden – and also some in Germany, Italy, France and Turkey – we can get everything the customer wants.’

Zagu Serviss also sells new and used kiln equipment through its contacts with Italian and Swedish kiln producers. ‘Kilns are not our priority, but where we can we will help our customers obtain them.’

Initially the company had a workshop involved solely with the repair and reconditioning of old machines, but it gradually began to produce its own equipment.

‘We do not have very smart foreign machines that cost millions because we do not have rich investors and manage our company by our own strengths. Therefore we have to order some of the spare parts for our new machines from somewhere else.

‘But all that will change in the future. We plan to purchase expensive new equipment to reduce prices and increase quality.’