If the economy of Latvia is closely linked to softwood products, then one name dominates the whitewood product landscape: Gaujas Koks SIA. GK is private independent wood product company based near Sigulda, 30km away from Riga, which has over 25 years of commitment to quality wood products.
Originally, Vitaly Cmihov, the director of GK opened his first sawmill in Gauja, small town 40km away from Riga, in 1990. However, it was too small, employing only four people and had a few used machines. Within next four years, despite fierce competition from thousands of other Latvian sawmills the company showed continuous growth and its ability to survive. From the outset, continuous investment and improvement, equipment has been modified to increase quality, production volumes and efficiency. Manpower rose to 54 and timber production reached 20.000m3 annually.
In 1999, operating from Gauja sawmill alone, GK was the fourth largest Latvian timber producer with output of 40.000m3 of kiln dried graded and fresh-sawn timber. The significant development, which boosted the production volumes, was new environment-friendly powerful softwood sawmill near Gulbene, East Latvia, with a capacity of 140,000m3 per year. Launched in 2001, it has its own power plant which transforms mill’s residues into electricity and hot water used in twelve drying chambers and three tunnel-type drying kilns. The design, construction, installation and start-up of the machinery were carried out under the direct control of the company’s engineers. Production line comprises of modern machinery: log sorting line, debarking station, one-pass canter-circular saw line, green sorter, stacker. Machine vision and computer control are essential. 100% of produced timber is kiln dried.
Still on the expansion trail, the company launched its second sawmill in Jekabpils in 2008. The capacity of the mill is 350,000m3 of sawn, dried, planed and impregnated wood products per year. In 2015 wood pressure treatment plant with capacity of 100,000m3 a year was added to the sawmill in Jekabpils. 2016 was a year of launching a cross-laminated timber production line in Jekabpils with a capacity of 50,000m3 of CLT panels. Today, the company employees 450 people in two of its operational sawmills, and currently, a second CLT factory is under construction in Vangazi, 30km away from Riga. The new CLT facility will be able to produce 200,000m3 of CLT panels a year. Due to be completed in 2018.
Some of the best forest in Latvia is found in the areas in which the company operates – Vidzeme and Latgale. GK sources its raw materials from within a 150 km radius. This cuts down the transport time from point of harvest to sawmill, thus reducing possible damage of the timber. Today GK’s strategy is to become more efficient and more modern, while constantly defending its position.