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Until recently, Bois Brever focused on traditionally produced construction wood and saw the demand for its products decrease. “Builders and architects favour solid finger-jointed wood and laminated wood which they often buy in Germany and Austria,” Ms Brever explains. “We were losing clients and realised that if we remained a traditional sawmill it would be difficult for us to survive.”

Local wood for local clients

With new equipment installed in 2017, Bois Brever can now produce the kind of CE certified construction wood that is requested on the market. Contrary to large mass-producing sawmills abroad, the company can also adapt lengths and dimensions to the exact needs of each customer, thereby reducing waste and the need to stock unused materials. “We are happy to see clients return, in particular those who want to work with a Luxembourg company and use locally sourced wood. We are off to a good start and believe that our business will expand even more in 2018,” says Ms Brever.

Ensuring the future of the company is of prime importance to Ms Brever. Ten years ago, she decided to join the family business established in 1947 by her grandfather, which she now runs together with her father. In her opinion, long-term planning must go beyond the activities of her own company: “We face two important challenges for the future that we cannot solve on our own: access to raw material and qualified staff,” she points out.

Bois Brever uses softwood, essentially spruce, and there are indications that the local plantation of softwood may be decreasing. “Currently we buy 25% of our wood in Luxembourg and 75% in the Belgian Ardennes. Wood is an ecological material that allows for the building of eco-friendly housing, for example, but if we have to buy it abroad and transport it over long distances before processing it the environmental advantage is lost.” And just as in many other skilled crafts companies, Bois Brever also struggles to find well-trained employees with the necessary expertise, motivation and sense of responsibility to fit into the organisation.

A cluster for joint solutions

That is why Ms Brever did not hesitate to join the recently created Luxembourg Wood Cluster when contacted by Cluster Manager Philippe Genot in mid-2017. “Many companies face the same challenges as we do, and I think it is easier to find solutions if we work together.” Ms Brever now chairs the cluster’s Wood Transformation working group, whose first meeting already provided an opportunity to identify common needs and discuss the future supply of spruce with a representative of the national nature and forest administration. An additional benefit is the networking that takes place between cluster members. “I have met numerous colleagues who knew our company but not the specific products that we offer,” she says. “The cluster can help find new collaboration opportunities and show that it is not necessary to go abroad to find the right partners and suppliers.”

Ms Brever is confident about the future: “The wood sector in Luxembourg is small, but the cooperation within the cluster makes us stronger and there is a growing awareness that wood is a sustainable resource that can be widely used. I think that wood construction is here to stay and that the sector will gain new clients and markets over the coming years.”

 

The Luxembourg Wood Cluster is one of the most recent clusters managed by Luxinnovation. It was set up in 2016 as a platform for exchange between all players in the wood sector, spanning from wood production to the end consumers of wood products.

 

Luxinnovation contributes to the economic development of Luxembourg by fostering innovation, fuelling international growth and attracting foreign direct investment and is supported by: Ministry of the Economy, Ministry for Higher Education and Research, Luxembourg Chamber of Commerce, Luxembourg Chamber of Skilled Crafts and FEDIL – The Voice of Luxembourg’s Industry.

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