I AM KRONUS – Gatis Kuzmins, Procurement Specialist

The second “I am KRONUS” conversation is here, and we are joined by Gatis Kuzmins, a procurement specialist who has been with the company for eight years and started his career as a production worker.

Any KRONUS colleague would definitely describe Gatis as a communicative and active employee who is always happy to participate in organised projects and events. We also learned more about Gatis’ hobbies related to water and music.


Gatis, what do you associate KRONUS with?


Basically, KRONUS is associated with being among the leaders in the wooden packaging industry, but we all know that in the company. Personally, I associate KRONUS with being a great example for other local companies. We are definitely a company that can be proud of its team, its management, and the growth opportunities it offers.

How did your career start at KRONUS?


A friend of mine had been working in manufacturing for some time and was earning a very competitive salary compared to what I was earning doing intellectual work in another company. I approached him and got hired. I was shown what to do and I did my job. I started with very ordinary manual work, then the production foreman offered me training on a semi-automatic line, and at that time I didn’t know if I would be able to do it, because I was not familiar with the machines at all.


At that time I was lucky enough to have a colleague who was very responsible and who trained me to work on the line without even being near it. Eventually, things worked out very well and my productivity picked up. Also, doing maintenance on the machine without mechanics being present. Then the next logical step in my development was to work on a fully automatic machine that was fully computerised, where my interest only increased. It gives me a feeling of satisfaction that the machine is set up and everything is running like clockwork.


The company was growing rapidly and a new position was created called “Teamleader,” a completely new position at KRONUS and there were no instructions for it, nor could anyone tell me how to do it. I applied for this vacancy, was approved and acted with great excitement and interest! It was an exciting year in the job, the whole structure was working, then I was offered a job as a warehouse manager, then a year later I was offered a job as procurement specialist – I was doing my best, learning and trying to prove myself.


What do you like best about your job?


That there is no routine! Every working day is different enough not to get bored with what I do. The whole team is involved in the company movement. I also see from my colleagues that they enjoy being part of the change processes and seeing how things will go. There is an opportunity to get involved! There is no doubt about expressing your thoughts and passing ideas on. There is an opportunity to think outside the box, and to get out of your comfort zone, which is also very important for personal development.

What was your first paid job?


I worked as soon as I could. I probably won’t count going to help my father. But the first kind of conscious work I went into to make money was school discos. I knew that if I wanted to go to my cousin’s place in Aizkraukle for a holiday, I had to organise a disco and earn money. Growing up in the countryside, there were all kinds of jobs, and there was and still is an organic farm, which I still work on.


We have already learned that you have been working at KRONUS for a longer period of time. How do you see the changes and developments in the company from the outside?


The changes are 100%, you cannot compare what the company was like eight years ago when I started. Then there was no specific recruitment process, now it is organised, everything is explained to the employees. You can see the growth happening and the opportunity is given to everyone, you just have to want to do it yourself. In production, there is also a classroom where you are trained properly so everything is clear. The system that has been set up is neat and accurate.


What does a typical working day look like for you? What are your responsibilities?


It’s very difficult to talk about anything specific because, as I said, there is no routine. A typical day here at the KRONUS office: in the morning, of course, a little chat with my colleagues to get myself in the mood, because my colleagues are great. After that, I get down to business – first, there are e-mails and other communication channels to go through. Then it’s market research time, because you have to keep up and figure out how to stay ahead of the competition. After lunch, I’m already doing procurement, communicating with manufacturers and suppliers, and in parallel I’m doing various tasks from colleagues. 

What are the biggest challenges you have to face?


The thing about challenges is that I face them periodically. In recent years it has been September for me, because it just so happens that this is when I start my new job, which is a challenge in itself every time. There is no particular job that I have been practising for or learning. The challenges, every time, are ones where you have to work hard, you have to push yourself beyond your limits. In everyday life, a big and good challenge is that of making decisions. The decisions I take have an impact on the processes that follow. I must choose producers and suppliers to make the most of the transaction.


Do you feel supported by KRONUS and your managers in your professional development?


Yes, in the latter positions, my managers are absolute life mentors, I can learn a lot from them. I listen to their opinions and ideas There have been times when I’ve been scratching my head for a while and I can’t figure out how to solve a situation, then I go to my manager and he explains everything in one sentence.


How do you spend your free time?


Just relaxing, my soul food is water. Kayaking in the summer has been an integral part of my life for 13 years. Every summer I kayak on different rivers, enjoying that time in nature. I glide down the rivers and see how unique each river is. I enjoy the rapids, as many as there are in Latvia. In my opinion, the best river for catching the feeling of rapids is the Salaca and you can definitely polish your kayaking technique there. Wonderful feelings! You have to read that stream like a book, you have to plan your next steps – you have to make quick decisions.


How did you choose this particular hobby? Do you have any like-minded people joining you?

Basically, my goal is to ride at least 100 km once a summer. Once a year I have to give myself a kick in the butt. That’s why I started this! Kayaking is all about you, you can’t call a taxi or get on a bus on the way. You can compare how much weaker or stronger you get every year. I’ve also done it alone, and on the easier sections I do it with friends. There are also groups you can join. Meet different people. I usually do my 100 km challenge with my best friend, we’ve been doing this tradition for years.


And in the winter period, how do you spend your time? Then the rivers are frozen.


In winter I play records, mostly for my own pleasure. I add a mixing console to my record players, it is another form of food for my soul. In summer I am more active and in winter, melancholic. In summer, the theme of water doesn’t stop for me – I’m learning to sail on sailing yachts. Bigger waters provide a bigger adrenaline rush. When I’m on the water I switch off that sense of time, it gives me energy and lets me relax at the same time!


What are your future career goals?


In the short term, probably sometime in the next year, I’m aligning my goals with the overall goals of the company: to open warehouses in Latvia and other countries, to find suppliers for these warehouses, simply put, to make this process easier. We need to show good results! In the long term, I don’t know if I would want to, because I am faced with the fact that setting up your own company is not a piece of cake. But I really like the strange idea of recycling waste, having my own recycling company. Let us think logically, people produce that waste and we have to pay attention to that. Unfortunately, it is very much dependent on the state and there is a high degree of monopoly in this sector. It is such a difficult field, but nobody said it would be easy! That’s why I also like the fact that, as a company, we don’t just produce new wooden pallets, but also sell second-hand ones. We are giving wood a second chance!

What is your motto in life?


I wouldn’t say that there is one thing that I follow every day, because there is something different for different situations in life. But when it comes to professional activities, the thing to realise nowadays is that nothing is impossible. With the amount of information that is available, you have to go and do it.


It may be very simple to say, but so many things are handed to us on a silver platter. It is a sin to complain, because we can do a lot ourselves – we just have to be motivated. You are solely responsible for the situation around you, we can choose what we do every day and where we invest our time. Today’s decisions are tomorrow’s future!