Estonian Wooden Houses Cluster has been systemically run and has grown into a working network
Estonian Wooden Houses Cluster was awarded with titles “Appreciate the Promoters of Entrepreneurship 2018” and „Best Collaborative project 2018“ last month and is also about to celebrate a 10-year anniversary. The sector’s supporting organization (cluster) has a new leader since October – Eeva Vahtramäe.
Member of the Cluster Council, Managing Director at Nordic Houses KT OÜ and one of Cluster’s founders, Argo Saul, says that he is continuingly happy about the development of the Cluster. “I still remember very well that during the recession in 2008 the wooden houses sector fell under a very strong economic pressure. Umbrella company of the Cluster, Estonian Woodhouse Association, was facing principal questions, whether to continue and if yes, then how would it be possible to rise from this difficult situation. Back then we decided that the focus has to be on export, common tool for achieving that would be the Cluster and our goal to become the biggest exporter of wooden houses in Europe.”
In order to implement this ambitious plan, producers of wooden houses needed support. During that same year the State came to the rescue of production sectors through the cluster programme, one that according to Saul has been one of the most efficient support measures of competence and capability of different sectors. “As an organization, a cluster is an extremely complex form and is based on trust. Successful working is first and foremost related to strong and systemic management. In that sense we have made successful decisions in the Cluster Council, for example during the first 5 years the Cluster was managed by Elari Kivisoo, a very capable starter and during the past 5 years by Lauri Kivil, developer of significant competencies and resultful co-operation.” Both managers are still active in the sector, Kivisoo in private entrepreneurship and Kivil as a Managing Director in Estonian Woodhouse Association.
Eeva Vahtramäe, who took over leading the Cluster in October has worked as a Marketing Specialist of the Cluster up until now. According to Saul the biggest challenges for Vahtramäe will be developing of the Cluster’s international network and creating sales channels at sector’s destination markets.
“Starting to co-ordinate Estonian Wooden Houses Cluster and all its activities is certainly a big step in personal aspect and undoubtedly a significant responsibility,” says Vahtramäe. “Yet at the same time having been involved in marketing the Cluster I am well aware of the Cluster’s development, a profile of the sector’s companies and the sector’s problems.” Vahtramäe adds that wooden houses producers are already now very capable as a network but there are definitely plenty of extra resources and growth potential in the Cluster. “I see that an important direction of development is to make an already existing network of producers and related organizations work on international markets more effectively and through that ensure continuous growth of competitive advantage of the Cluster and its members.”
Estonian Wooden Houses Cluster is a network that connects local strong wooden houses producers, supply chain members, science- and educational institutions. An objective of the Cluster is to through common activities increase export adeptness, international recognition and sales. By today the Cluster has developed into a real co-operation platform which acts as a coordinator of the sector’s goal-oriented marketing and development activities. The Cluster currently has 46 members who represent more than 60% of the sector’s sales turnover.