References – Bauwerk
Klaus Brammertz, board member of the European parquet flooring primus Bauwerk Boen Group, reveals why he likes to go barefoot at home, what the coin test is and why targeted advice makes sense even in good times.
The Bauwerk Boen Group is one of the top parquet floor manufacturers in Europe and enjoys excellent economic health. Under what aspects do you make use of Syngroup's services?

Because a third party’s view from time to time is good for every company. Even if you don’t see any reason to do so. But to let professionals with specific process optimization skills look at one’s own processes is a very valuable undertaking.

If you don't mind me saying so, that seems doubly difficult, since the processes you have introduced, which obviously work, are examined and questioned by external consultants? And the wood processing industry in particular is not an area for the Scheme F.

That could indeed be the case. But that’s exactly why we’re working with Syngroup, because they have a wealth of experience in this field. The wood-processing industry really does enjoy a special position: output is never in a predefined relationship to input.

What does that mean?

That a piece of wood, such as a log with a diameter of 60 centimetres, can yield 400 or 2,500 euros/m3. And with all these modern methods, we only know this when the log is cut open. A fine grain, a few branches mean a high-yield trunk, but colour changes or cracks mean the opposite. Global warming has changed a lot in this area. The yields fluctuate considerably more than ten years ago.

In what context does Syngroup come into play here?

In this particular business, you need a partner who understands things. And these connections are by no means trivial; you have to know the industry and its particularities very well. Syngroup’s know-how from other consulting activities provides starting points for increasing earnings. There really is a lot of knowledge and expertise behind it. And Syngroup is already well versed in the topics of “efficiency” and “productivity”.

Keyword "Global Warming": How sustainable is the industry as a whole and your company in particular?

I believe I can say this for our region: Today, there is no overexploitation of resources in Europe; forestry is managed sustainably. The conditions are strict and, in my view, are observed by all producers. And, of course, sustainability must be in our DNA. We live off nature. We give the tree a second and third life.

How can we understand this?

As in the economy, there is no perpetual growth in nature. A tree dies, although some people believe it lives forever. An oak, for example, is between 120 and 140 years old, and here too the principle of survival of the fittest applies: The tree lives in community with other trees and the strong, who can conquer the daylight for themselves, win, the others die.

Do we have enough resources?

We even have growing forest cover in Europe, linked to climate change. In alpine locations we now find new forest areas.

» And of course sustainability
must be in our DNA. We
live off nature. We give the
tree a second and third life. «
Klaus Brammetz
CEO Primus Bauwerk Boen Group
You mentioned oak earlier: Is this the number 1 for parquet?

By far. We are almost talking about a monoculture. 93 percent of the parquet floors we sell are made of oak. Which is a great pity. Alternatives such as beech, ash or walnut are de facto not in demand.

Change of topic: You were responsible for and carried out the merger of two strong brands, namely the Swiss Bauwerk Group and the Norwegian Boen Group. How do you manage to unite two strong brands on the one hand and fundamentally different working cultures under one roof on the other?

The answer is very general and always the same in this context: It’s about bringing corporate cultures together and forming employees into a team across all hierarchies. In this case, that was the most complex cultural bridge I had to build. The high social needs of the Norwegians, the still USSR-influenced but self-confident, young and well-trained employees from Lithuania and the rather patriarchal behaviour of the Swiss, for whom punctuality means being at the meeting five minutes before the appointment. This was a two-year process that we managed with the help of an integration manager, but it is not over yet.

Quality control is an important topic in every company: How does it work at Bauwerk Boen with such a complex topic?

The classic answer everyone would give is: we have very strict guidelines. But it is also a fact that our purchasers actually go into the forest and, within the framework of validation, also check on site whether the necessary planting is actually taking place. This takes place annually and audits are also carried out for our suppliers. In any case, certificates are the measure of all things. Basically, it can be said that we take a very close look at Eastern Europe. However, I would like to point out that at our sawmill in the enclave of Kaliningrad we have found that Russia is very conscious of its use of resources.

Don't different suppliers across Europe mean different types of oak?

In fact, there are differences in colour and growth: in Northern Europe the wood is light grey, in the Balkans, for example, it is almost white. In order to get an even grading, we mix them quite deliberately. Here too, however, we keep an eye on sustainability. We don’t send wood from Kaliningrad to Croatia because of the long distance to have it processed there.

There are also massive differences in price. How is the price per square metre calculated?

Simply the length, width and sorting of the planks you get from a tree trunk: The longer and/or wider, the fewer branches, the finer the grain, the more expensive. And of course also from the treatment methods. There are parquet floors with three so-called applications, at Bauwerk Boen we speak of up to eleven such applications.

To what extent is a long-running favourite like parquet flooring susceptible to fashions and trends?

Of course we supply many innovations to the market, although in the end more than 70 percent of customers opt for the traditional natural-coloured parquet floor. Currently, pastel grey is also en-vogue. But you’re not too keen to experiment in this area. Understandably so: A fancy curtain or an eccentric sofa is easier to replace than a parquet floor. And at the end of the day you ask yourself whether you want to look at it for 20 years or even longer.

How far does Bauwerk Boen look into the future, or to put it another way: parquet flooring is a tactile product, so how does it fit with the growth in sales via digital channels?

This is really the next big challenge. We want to take the DIY boom into account and also sell parquet floors online. It’s a very special challenge.

A final, personal question: How does Klaus Brammertz feel about the floor at home and would you be able to blindly feel a fake parquet floor?

I love walking barefoot at home because a parquet floor simply feels wonderful. It’s also a Swiss custom to take your shoes off when you’re visiting a place. And no, I would hardly feel a fake parquet floor with my feet alone. But with the coin test: On a real parquet floor, a coin doesn’t jump back like on a fake one for a long time.

In Short
  • Location
    St.Margrethen / Switzerland
  • Employees
  • Founded in
  • Industry
    Parquet Manufacturer
  • Über Bauwerk Boen Group

    The Bauwerk Boen Group is a merger of Bauwerk Parkett AG and Boen AS, with production sites in Lithuania, Croatia and Switzerland. With a turnover of around CHF 292 million and around 1,700 employees, the group is one of the leading companies in the European parquet industry.