The people of Combiwood. Evelin Vonk – I liked wood from day one

In the first part of our series of stories on the people of Combiwood Group, we talk to Evelin Vonk, logistics manager at Vincom OÜ. She is one of the longest-serving employees of the component factory in Viljandi County, and therefore the perfect person to provide an insight into one of the Group’s companies.

What is the role of Vincom in Combiwood Group and what do you do at Vincom?

Vincom is a component factory where we make pine wood blanks for the door, window, and moulding industries. Most of the raw material we use comes from our group partners in Combimill Sakala, and our biggest customers are also Combiwood and Vindor, both part of the group. We currently employ around a hundred people.

At Vincom, I handle logistics. That means arranging transport, preparing documents, and working with customers. I also work a lot with other companies in our group.

Tell us a bit about yourself.

I’m a friendly, open, and cheerful person. Outside of work, my hobbies include ATVs and racing cars, on ice and otherwise. I like to try new and different things and I’m not the type to be afraid often. This also applies to work, as I like to overcome obstacles. Once you’ve been through the tough stuff, you can take more enjoyment in working on the simple things.

How did you end up at Vincom?

I was in the process of moving to Suure-Jaani, which is close to Vincom and was looking for a new job here. An acquaintance of mine was working here and through them I ended up coming in for an interview.

It so happened that I am the only woman in Vincom who has done a trial day at the glue press. On my first trial day, one of the people working at the press had unexpectedly fallen ill. Even though it’s a physically demanding job, and usually more for men, I was assigned to it. They figured I could handle it for a day and I did.

The next day I started work as a packer because they needed an extra person there. In total, I got to work in packing for about a month. Because I was hard-working and my attitude stood out, I was offered a job in the office. My first job was as an assistant manager or sales assistant. I was in charge of personnel, transport, all the documentation related to sales, checking and filling in various production documents.

I didn’t know anything about woodworking before I started at Vincom, but I liked the material and the smell and the feel of it from day one.

What has your career in Vincom been like?

The first year was the hardest. There was a lot I had to teach myself. I hadn’t worked with wood before and I didn’t know how things worked here. I had to learn a lot to be productive in my daily work. It was a time of long nights.

From my second year onwards, it got easier. More people were hired on the office side and that made my job easier, because I could pass on some of the workload and devote myself to a more specific role.

After my first year, Vincom started to grow at a fast pace. New machines were bought, facilities built and new staff were hired, and that also made more work for the office side.

How would you describe Combiwood Group?
I would say our work culture is friendly. It feels like we’re family. If I need advice or help, I can always turn to another company in the group, like Combiwood or Vindor, because I know they’ll be glad to help. People call me for advice, too. I don’t mind taking the time to share information, even if it’s with people I don’t interact with much on a daily basis. Support within the Group is very important.

Evelin (right) with HR lead Anu Tõkke

You’ve been in Vincom for 8 years now. It seems You like it here. Why?

First of all, I like wood. I also deal with our certifications and I’m familiar with the forests it comes from, the rules it complies with, its qualities, where it can be used and who we supply it to. From the outside it can seem dull, but the whole process is very interesting to me. From the tree stump to the finished product.

I also like to overcome difficulties. It is about effort and hard work. Every day is different and it’s never boring here. I enjoy the variety.

What has surprised you most during this time?

The biggest surprise to me is how much actually depends on communication between the employees of the whole company. Communication has to be constant and the flow of information is crucial. If someone makes a mistake and the information doesn’t reach the next person in the chain in time, it can result in the product having to be re-manufactured.

You have been involved in the development of Combiwood and Vincom for a long time. How would you sum it up?
I really like the fact that the whole group is constantly moving forward and every year there is something new. Whether it’s a new factory or innovations in machinery that change the working environment. Growth has been fast and constant.

What do you see as the next challenges for the Combiwood Group?

The whole sector is certainly affected by the current war in Ukraine. Prices have already gone up a lot and that is a concern. It’s difficult to see what tomorrow will bring.

We have to start looking for new solutions and alternatives to the bottlenecks that are worrying us today, such as finding alternative suppliers for the goods we need.

What else would you like to achieve at work?

Maybe it’s not a useful way of thinking, but I feel I’ve established myself in these eight years. I’ve already exceeded all the goals I had at the beginning. I wanted to, could do and did a lot and met my goals years ago. Today, I want to be supportive, hardworking and provide good solutions.

Who is your favourite colleague and why?

All our people are nice. I like the fact that we have a wide variety of people because this makes the work interesting. Younger people bring a breath of fresh air and older people share their experience. It’s very cool.

How would you summarise what you’ve learned during your time in Vincom?

Today, I am definitely a better communicator because I work with a very wide range of people on a daily basis, both locally and with customers all over the world. I’ve also learned to be more restrained when necessary, to express myself better and to be open.

Thanks to my work, I have gained a huge amount of confidence and a wealth of knowledge. I interact with clients from very different countries and it gives me very good insight into what is happening in the world. After all, we don’t just communicate at invoice level, but also as people.

I’ve also learned a lot about wood. When I got home from my first trial day, I went to see what quality of material the woodwork was made of at my parents’ house. Working here, you learn a lot about wood, because you need to know what kind of wood is ideal for the end producer.

One of Combiwood’s founding principles is that we care about our people. How do you see it?

We care a lot about our people. It all starts with the regular worker. The management and all the people in between do their best to make sure that everything works and also grows – so that everyone can do their job well. Our human resources manager cares a lot about our employees – whether on an emotional or some other level. Right now, supporting the Ukrainians working here is very much an active topic. Vincom cares about its employees. A lot.

I like working here. I like the fact that I continue to work hard to be at my best. I like and am motivated by the team. I come to work in the morning in a good mood and go home in the evening in the same way. I like that I ended up here and that I continue to be here.