I AM KRONUS – Oskars Toniņš, Teamleader

We have prepared the seventh interview within the project “I am KRONUS” in which we were joined by Oskars Toniņš, the teamleader of the 7th hinge production workshop, who has been working in the company for six years already. 

Oskars’ team describes him as an open and helpful leader. In the interview, we learned more about his approach to work, daily routine and how he has created a wonderful recreation place for his family out of nothing. He started in KRONUS as a plant operator but now he is responsible for the 7th workshop.

What do you associate KRONUS with?


KRONUS is one of the leading wood packaging companies in the world. For me, KRONUS is a good workplace near home. I live nearby and it’s important to me that everything is within easy reach. I really like working here.


How did your career start at KRONUS?


I used to work in an advertising and stamp factory, making shirts, stamps, and other related things. I wanted some changes in my life, so I started thinking about changing my job so that I could develop – as they say, every change is only for the better. My wife sent my resume to KRONUS because you were looking for employees for the newly opened 7th hinge production workshop. I received a call within two hours and started to work as a plant operator. I worked as an operator for quite some time and then, after changes in the structure, teamleader vacancies appeared. One day a manager came to me and offered this vacancy. I always do my job with the best intentions, it’s important to me to improve processes – so I became a teamleader. First, I worked in this position in the 8th workshop, then started to help out here as well. Now, I’m responsible for the whole hinge production workshop and my team. I’ve been a teamleader for two years and in total have been working in the company for almost six years.


What do you like best about your job?


I like how the equipment works, but, of course, I don’t like when it breaks. I like to help, and I can arrange help at any time, even if it’s not related to my workshop. If somebody doesn’t understand how to do something, I go to them and see if I can offer a solution. I’m used to the equipment; I know how it works. Since I started working at KRONUS, I’ve done a lot of things to ease people’s working days. Before, if something broke, we didn’t have spare parts at hand, now I’ve made sure that we do have such stock. It truly speeds up the work. I have really good colleagues, we are friendly, we are a team of 12 hard-working people.

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What was your first paid job?


I had my first paid job when I was 14 – I worked at a construction site where I earned 50 lats a month in 5 lat bills; at that time it felt really cool. Of course, it came with various injuries, for example, stabbing my foot with nails, but it was part of the job. Then I studied to become a carpenter, worked some time in that industry, then worked in advertising and soon after started to work in KRONUS.

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To stray from the subject of work a little – how do you spend your free time?


In summer, I spend it in my garden (940 m2); when I got it, it was plain ground with grass that reached my waist. So my wife and I brought this plot of land to order. We started with a shed and toilet, then made planting beds, a playground and a greenhouse. Now we have a nice place where we can spend our free time with kids. There was no electricity, but I installed solar panels, drew water from the river with a pump. Each time I improve something in the garden! I travel around Latvia a lot, quite often I travel the route Kuldīga–Liepāja–Ventspils–Jūrkalne. I’ve never been to Daugavpils; I’d like to go there as well. More or less this is how we spend time. I look after the kids when my wife is working.

You surely overcame a big challenge with improving your garden. What challenges do you face in your everyday work?


For example, I receive a message that we have an urgent order, and I have to solve this situation. I’m not a magician, I can’t do it with a wave of the hand, but I manage it by organising the team and a work plan. At work, I arrange everything in a way that you don’t have to worry about the tiniest details. I always have a plan B; I plan alternatives so I don’t tear my hair out and think about what to do. Everything has to happen at a set pace, the manager can rely on me as well. I solve problems myself, if anything is out of the ordinary, I always try to offer a solution.


What does a typical working day look like for you?


I start my working day at 6:40 with a daily inspection: how much produce is made, is everything placed where it should be. Then at 7:20, it’s a daily morning meeting, where we hand over reports, discuss assignments, check if we have all tools. Then I have to check the equipment, I do rounds in my workshop. I try to teach my team, so they can work more efficiently. I’ve created “The Book of Wonders” with instructions written by myself that help to learn everyday processes faster. When I’m not available, my team can look at these instructions. At the same time, I’m thinking about possible improvements, filling out reports, planning processes. Since I was a kid, I’ve been working and trying to do everything at 150% or even 200%.


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


Yes, to be honest – since I started working, this is the only place with real growth. They offer and describe growth opportunities everywhere, in reality, I haven’t seen any development. Here it isn’t that you come in, work monotonously and when you’re 40 realise that you haven’t progressed much further. I see that my desires and initiatives are taken into account, I’m allowed to express myself to improve production volumes and product quality. All ideas with justification are supported here. Of course, you have to be a profitable employee who wants to work and does a bit more than expected, then you will be seen and be given opportunities to grow and develop. All managers see what each person does or doesn’t do.

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What are your future goals for development?


Of course, I follow the development of the company. We recently introduced a third production machine, we also added a plastic corner production machine, soon there will be rivet production machines. Our workshop is developing, it’s not just two machines anymore. Everything is going up! Personally, I see myself as a master in about five years. You know what they say: the slower you go, the farther you will be. I like that we’re also given an opportunity to learn, you don’t even have to look for anything yourself; you get materials and can then learn on your own.

How is the cooperation with your team?


Soon, during vacation, we’ll have a teambuilding event, we’ll sit down and spend some time together. Recently we had a fishing event where all production workers could spend time together. Our communication also is at a good level, we always tell each other everything during meetings. We are humane to each other! I definitely feel the trust of my team, some employees worry about going on a longer vacation. Even the street sweeper says: “Good morning to the best person of the 7th workshop!”


What is your motto in life?


You know what our motto in school was? “Don’t make a mess, make chairs”. I work similarly now. You have to go and do while you can, there’s no other way. Everything you hear around us is negative, so I try to have a more positive outlook on life. As I’ve said, I always have to have a plan B for everything in life. I think ahead and consider possibilities, you have to be ready for anything.

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