“Behind the amazing success story is the Kaindl family, who established a sawmill in Lungötz in 1897,” explains Sylva Krechlerová, Managing Director of Kronospan in the Czech Republic. “The family had immense drive and were determined to develop the company; today’s worldwide corporation is the result of their initial endeavours.”
The company produces wood-based boards, including particleboard, chipboard, fiberboard of various densities and oriented strand board (OSB), all of which are used for building construction, furniture manufacture and also in the packaging industry.
Products are split into three categories. The Kronobuild products are essentially building products used in housing construction, but also have applications in the furniture and packaging sectors. The range includes all types of boards in numerous formulations, which can be used, for example, for partitions and flooring bases.
OSB panels are a particular feature. They are produced for use in wooden and wooden-framed building construction. The Boards are suitable for humid conditions because of the long, thin chips used to make them possess immense flexural strength. The structure of the chips gives the OSB panels their characteristic appearance, and they are used not only where they cannot be seen, but they also offer many options for decorative use.
There are a variety of OSB panels with different characteristics, including firestop boards for roofing and cladding, airtight and reflective boards for low-energy housing, and high-load-bearing panels for racking and packaging.
The Kronodesign portfolio incorporates particleboard and fibreboard with finishes such as melamine, veneer, acrylic gloss, mirror gloss and laminate, which are used to create eye-catching, on-trend furniture for the home that is also sufficiently hard-wearing to withstand the stresses of commercial use.
The range includes worktops made from particleboard and bonded laminate, with matching splashbacks. “We have invested heavily in the decorative panel segment,” says Ms. Krechlerová. “We have our own development team and a design office too. Besides our standard products, we are also able to create bespoke finishes for our customers. We keep a very close eye on current trends and develop our products accordingly. The current fashion is for light colours – white and light oak, for example.”
Panels are available off-the-shelf in a standard size of 2,800 x 2,070 mm and in a range of thicknesses from 8 to 38 mm. “An 8 mm panel is often used for the back of a piece of furniture, while the thicker panels are used for the body of the product,” notes Ms. Krechlerová. “We mostly sell 18 and 19 mm boards for cupboards. We have around 3,000 different decorative panels in our portfolio, so we can offer products to meet every taste.”
Kronoart, the third product group, is a range of cladding boards made from high-pressure structural laminate and used for architectural facades. Designed by Kronospan with the support of leading designers and architects, the boards offer limitless creative design possibilities in many different scenarios.
The panels are easy to clean and maintain, and are available in four quite diverse collections: Fundamentals has a standard wood finish, Colour offers a huge range of plain colour options, Elements provides panels with natural effects such as slate, marble and wood, and Concept is a trendy collection of grass, stone and abstract patterns.
Always with an eye on fashion, Kronoart is not the only innovative design offered by Kronospan. The company periodically creates new collections to support its standard portfolio and reflect the latest trends and ideas in the building and furniture sectors.
The Trends 16/17 collections are new this year and offer 27 new products which complement the Kronodesign portfolio. The Nordic collection is a range of soft, light tones which depict Scandinavian simplicity.
The Metropolitan collection uses black and grey aluminium and wood to create a modern urban feel while the Luxury collection uses extravagant marble, bronze and copper to give a sense of grandeur. All of these designs can be used for furniture and decorative room panels to create a cohesive and up-to-the-minute environment within the home and in commercial locations.
Within its production processes, Kronospan focuses heavily on environmental issues. Its wood panels are mostly made from recycled materials, primarily the wood residue from the sawmill industry. The company respects that timber is a limited raw material and goes to great lengths to ensure that its suppliers use raw materials only from renewable and sustainable sources.
In addition it ensures that all its activities maintain a low environmental impact on the soil, water and air, and its water and energy use are carefully monitored. Although Kronospan uses chemicals in its production, these are stored, used and destroyed in an environmentally friendly manner.
The company meets the E1 standards for low formaldehyde emissions and also holds a range of other certification connected to sustainability. Kronospan’s target customer groups are furniture manufacturers and building construction companies as well as producers of packing materials and DIY stores.
Approximately 60% of the Czech subsidiary’s products are exported, primarily to Germany, Austria and Switzerland. Kronospan places huge importance on training. Not only are its 470 employees in the Czech Republic well trained through company apprenticeships, its customers are also offered seminars where they can gather technical and design advice about the products.
Each year, approximately 3,000 participants attend events at various locations to learn more about the products, exchange ideas and generally network amongst Kronospan panel users. “We have a comprehensive Internet site showing all our products,” states Ms. Krechlerová. “However, our customers really appreciate the opportunities that we offer them to get technical advice and updates on our range.”
The grand expansion of the Lungötz sawmill began in 1959 when the company opened a new plant in Salzburg, followed by a new subsidiary in the UK in 1970. The 1980s and 1990s saw new ventures in Poland, Germany, Luxembourg, Bulgaria and, of course, the Czech Republic in 1995.
“We were founded in 1994 and began production the following year,” explains Ms. Krechlerová. “We invested very early in equipment for the production of chipboard, and in 2005 we invested again in production facilities for the OSB panels.”
The Kronospan organization has not stood still and since 2000 has opened many more subsidiaries across the world: China, Germany, Slovakia, Russia, Romania, Croatia, the Ukraine, Hungary, the USA, Latvia, Italy, Serbia, Belarus, Spain, France and Denmark.
What makes the organization, and the Czech subsidiary in particular, successful? “We offer a huge range of product options and great service,” highlights the Managing Director. “The company philosophy is to continually push ahead and invest heavily in our service and the latest technology. Our customers know us and trust us to deliver the best quality products. We also take our commitments very seriously, and when we promise a delivery timeframe, we do everything in our power to adhere to it. To facilitate this, we are a lean organization, which means that decisions can be taken very quickly.”
Kronospan seems to have found its formula for success and is on target to achieve all its goals for 2016. In line with the company philosophy, continued investment in technology and product development is planned for the coming years.