Business articles, B2B advice, travel destination reviews and economic insights
HOUSE I 2019 Expo — A Detailed Report (Part 2)
By Oleg K Temple, March 2019
Read part 1 of this article HERE
In part one of this article we explored the luxurious splendour of the Decco Centrs conglomerate, the heat pumps by NIBE that are, quite literally, saving the world we live in and the slick, indestructible fibre-cement roofing and facade products by Eternit Baltic. Let’s continue reviewing the interior design and construction companies from Latvia and her neighbours. As advertised, brace yourself for an encounter with grass-shredding robots, alternative energy gurus and Flemish lions! Don’t forget to share your experiences and thoughts in the comment section below.
Now, anyone who knows us is aware that although we have a penchant for German cars, when it comes to the rest of our lifestyle choices, we are passionate about preserving the environment and always reach out to support entrepreneurs who endeavour to do the same.
As soon as we spotted the colourful wind turbine at the SPT Dizains stand, we naturally gravitated towards it and were welcomed by Mr Klaperis Jr., a keen young man with a clear sense of purpose. He explained about the very real possibility to achieve energy independence by combining wind and solar power to heat and light the home. What struck us most about the turbine, apart from its unusual helical shape, was the lack of noise it emitted. The old-school, pinwheel-like wind turbines are seldom placed in residential areas these days, due to the brain-curdling sound their blades emit. These new units, however, are amazing! Even the mighty 5Kw turbine emits under 30dB during operation—about a third of your average vacuum cleaner. It could be placed in a library… except it wouldn’t—because… no wind—I digress.
SPT Dizains Ltd. is an alternative energy hub representing prominent producers of renewable energy solutions from around the world, including SunDirect Technology Ltd.—an 8-year-young company originating in China, which has made remarkable strides in penetrating the European market, in particular Germany, Austria and the Netherlands. Their turbines utilise magnetic levitation to generate power, are constructed from light-weight fibre glass and can operate in winds of up to 35 m/s. On-grid and off-grid solutions are available in a wide gamut of capacities ranging from 200 W which can supplement basic energy needs, to 20 Kw that can easily support several households. The technology claims a 30% conversion efficiency. Although the units can seem to be costly to buy, there are convenient payment plans in place, from about 180 EUR/month, to mitigate the strain on consumers’ pocket books.
SPT Dizains Ltd. also offers various infrared heaters, including: heating panels, warm mirrors, as well as represents SioGreen in Latvia. SioGreen launched its operations in Florida, USA in 2008 and prides itself on producing its patented “tankless water heaters” that incorporate Infrared Quartz. The product is billed as completely maintenance free for up to 20 years and able to save up to 65% in water heating costs. Unlike most water heaters, SioGreen hot water systems will never corrode or build lime scale.
At a crowded intersection we spotted an energetic fellow bubbling in the crowd. Unlike some of the more reserved participants—barricaded behind desks—this man boldly sought contact, fielding and ushering over passers-by. We homed in on his infectious enthusiasm and that is how we met Mr Artis Grants, the trade representative of Stokker in Latvia.Needless to say, he was very knowledgeable and inspired—what else would you expect from a man with “art” in his name?!
Stokker has many impressive products to offer, but the star of this particular show was an advanced robotic lawnmower—the L250i shaped to resemble of a miniature red tractor. The deluxe robot can care for up to 3200 sq. metres of lawn, trimming at regular intervals to a set height. They also have models capable of catering to even larger terrains. Boundaries are set by underground wires, the L250i comes with a charging port and is equipped with a rain sensor, touch-screen and Bluetooth connectivity.
The adorable exterior of the L250i Ambrogio Robot device camouflages the incredible technology and logic imbued into it by Zucchetti Centro Sistemi (ZCS Italy). The system also boasts an advanced geo-fence anti-theft alarm, that alerts the owner if the device crosses the boundary.
It should be noted that the L250i is not the only game in town. Its competition were also out in force with their own lawn maintenance robots, however, the subdued colours they chose and the angular body designs made their products resemble glorified vacuum cleaners at best or ancient Egyptian scarabs at worst, while the smart L250i looked like a it belongs on a set of Thomas and Friends. A true, functional lawn ornament.
Thumbs up and five stars, it truly is ‘the little mower that could’!
While the rest of the team rested their throbbing trotters from the punishment dealt by the hard floors, Henrik Mjoman of Prime Recruitmentand I joined the lethargic queue for refreshments.
While we exchanged impressions and discussed the upcoming interviews, over bobbed an attractive lady in high spirits. She cheerfully inquired whether we were queueing or just chatting and before we could reply, slipped into the line ahead of us. We explained: “We are, in fact, waiting, but the line moves at a glacial pace”. We laughed about the miscommunication and got chatting in Latvian. So that is how we met Ineta Bērziņa, the artistically inclined CEO of Ziemas Dārzi (Winter Gardens), masters of conservatory construction and glazing of terraces, verandas, balconies and pools.
Ineta invited us over to visit her display after lunch, we asked for the stand number, but she just pointed west and said that we’d recognise it once we saw it, as it is the prettiest stand in the vicinity. After refreshments we decided to heed the call of the charming lady (and the Pet Shop Boys) and went west. We did not have to hunt for long and found that indeed, Ineta was not telling fibs—she did own the best looking stand. As it turned out, the ‘stand’ was one of her assembled enclosures, complete with unique, hand-crafted stained glass windows created by a local artisan—ofcourse it was a pearl of calm and tranquillity amidst the neighbouring commercial stands. It effortlessly surpassed them in cosiness and understated elegance—it was not just a stand to present an attractive product—it WAS the attractive product presenting itself!
I became pensive, involuntarily slipping into a brief daydream visualising the alluring setting of a romantic, candle-lit dinner beneath a starry sky and a power breakfast thereafter, as a fireball sun rises over a foggy lake.
Suddenly, Ineta hit me with an ice bucket of reality and practical considerations, which brought me back down to earth. As you can imagine, one of the most important decisions you have to make is which side of your house to place the conservatory against—the northern side will allow for a calm, relaxing ambiance with an even lighting, but may be chilly in winter without additional heating. The southern side is likely to become unbearably hot during the summer and will certainly require additional ventilation, as air temperatures may soar up to 70 degrees C in the direct sunshine. Direct sunlight may be dangerous for the skin and certainly unhealthy for plants. If you choose the southern side, Ineta advises to install a special UV-shielding bronze foil on the windows and additional ventilation.
However, for the afore mentioned magical dinners and breakfasts, it would be wise to install the conservatory on the eastern or western side of the house, so that you witness the sunrise or sunset and capture only half of the energy on a hot summer’s day.
Well, that was that. The show had to go on and we were not even nearly done. Also, Ineta was in high demand, as interested buyers kept vying for her attention. We decided to leave her to it, as business was precisely what she was at the expo for and one’s got to make hay while the sun is shining. And so we sailed on in search of extraordinary people and products—it was a very brief voyage, as we spotted our next subject.
INVEST IN FLANDERS: State-of-the-art
Spotting this name among the list of participants made us wonder what they would bring to this sales assemblage. The stand was easy to find, as it stood out from the rest. While other participants offered to purvey various curiosity-kindling products or services, here we found a dozen or so stacks of business cards and some folders about very different companies. If we had not known better, we might have thought that this is the stand of a printing house or tourism guide, but the purpose of this showcase was, of course, networking.
A well-groomed gentleman approached us and inquired about our interest. This was Mr Thomas Castrel, the Flemish Economic and Trade Counsellor to Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia. Since one of our team members is Flemish, this was the most pleasant and relaxed interview we conducted all day.
Flanders lies at the heart of the European continent and Union. Over 10,000 accredited lobbyists, 1,000 journalists and 30 chambers of commerce are based in Brussels alone! There are innumerable advantages for a corporation to open a representative office in close proximity to major European institutions and the hub of Europe's purchasing power. Flanders is a multi-lingual, multi-cultural society with the 4th most productive workforce in the world. Incentives include: cutting-edge infrastructure, the possibility to set up a business in just 4 days and paying 0 EUR social security for the first employee.
Thomas is based in Vilnius and his mission is to encourage Baltic companies to view Flanders as a business-friendly environment and to assist Flemish companies in penetrating the Baltic market. Invest in Flanders is a governmental agency, committed to serving the business community free of charge. Their international experts organise site visits to real estate locations, introduce investors to other companies, banks and regulators, assist with legal aspects of setting up a business in Flanders and much more.
This time the companies being promoted included:
Liquisol: an innovative line of coatings that make your home, office or factory more comfortable and easier to heat and cool, facilitating more efficient and economical energy utilisation.
ROND: chic, modern electrical switches and sockets able to reduce installation time by more than 30%.
GAP Solutions: certified fire-resistant penetrations.
HC Joints: expansion joints for industrial floors. Shock and vibration free, the best load transfer system for heavy vehicle wheel crossing.
STONE: from Brazil to Japan, from Italy to Taiwan: STONE trades in nature stone, ceramic and terrazzo in tiles and panels in all corners of the world.
Blommaert Aluminium: a market leader, with over 35 years’ experience in manufacturing aluminium hatch covers for inland shipping. A wide range of solutions for inland shipping and mobile roofs for land installations.
Door Solutions: fire-resistant, acoustic and burglar-proof internal doors.
Evapco: a full spectrum of global products for commercial HVAC, industrial refrigeration, power generation and industrial process.
Technical Architectural Lighting: designers and vendors of functional, efficient and controllable lighting solutions that accentuate colour, warmth, wellbeing and atmosphere.
Aquarium Art & Design
Well over half of the human body mass is comprised of water. Perhaps that is why we find aquariums so easy on the eye. There is just something calming, enchanting and blissful about the deep azure and the colourful creatures that reside within it, oblivious to the hustle and bustle of the hectic human world.
Aquarium Art & Design was founded in 1995 with the mission of creating the perfect aquarium to complement any interior. Today, according to Jevgenij Vetrov, an erudite biologist who is the owner and managing director of the company, they have the capacity to accomplish that dream… and then some! Taking into account the specifications and design language of any given space, they can build an aquarium of any mood, shape and size. They also possess the ichthyologic prowess to create a stable ecosystem within the aquarium, filling it with creatures that will live in harmony and benefit one another. Aquarium Art & Design team does not merely create an aesthetically pleasing arrangement, they plan and foresee every minute aspect of the habitat, including the lighting, as well as the salinity, temperature and PH value of the water to ensure longevity and wellbeing of the resident life. This approach ensures that clients receive the maximum enjoyment from the piece with minimum hassle and expense due to upkeep. The company specialises in creating salt- and freshwater vibrant glass and acrylic-coated displays filled with multi-chromatic reefs, jellyfish, tropical fish and other aquatic lifeforms.
With a history spanning nearly a quarter-of-a-century, Aquarium Art & Design has become a trusted name living art design, and maintenance. Many companies in Riga, including Dino Zoo and the Spice Shopping Complex have understood that installing aquariums in their public spaces add a unique, aesthetic feature that has a very positive effect on both visitors and staff. In 2017 Spice stated: “One of the attractions most liked by visitors is the fish aquarium, boasting 27 bright and vigorous Koi carp which have travelled to Spice from faraway Japan.”
These were very enlightening and eventful days. Parking proved to be a definite issue. Although the exhibition venue is sufficiently removed from the centre, BT1 has most certainly outgrown the available transport infrastructure. Better communications would boost the effectiveness of the events by a very significant margin. Until the status quo is resolved, or at least improved upon, we highly recommend attending BT1 events during the working week or arriving by taxi. Leave your wheels at home, kids, unless you fancy dwindling away for an hour or longer in bumper-to-bumper traffic waiting for a parking spot to free up!
Furthermore, several of the participants we interviewed were frustrated by the slow service at the canteen. Long queues formed for refreshments and many people gave up and returned to their stands hungry and thirsty. The good news is that unlike the vehicle congestion questions, this is an issue the organisers could easilysolve by cooperating with a savvy catering company that would supply overworked participants with basic fuel. If participants could make reservations over the phone or request liquid refreshments to be brought to their stand they would perform much more efficiently, resulting in happier clients for the organisers.
All-in-all, we highly recommend that you visit next year’s HOUSE exhibition and experience other BT1 events first hand. Immerse yourself in these very humancentric happenings. You will learn a lot of stuff about stuff… just kidding. You will learn a lot about the latest innovations and industry trends, meet fascinating people, walk off surplus calories and in general come away as a wiser, upgraded version of your former self.
If you have a company involved in Baltic or, specifically, Latvian accommodation and real estate, construction, home-improvement or interior design, you really should consider becoming a participant next time. A stand at a BT1 event is truly a worthwhile investment into your company’s future in the Baltics—even if you have neither the exuberant personality of Stokker’s Mr Grants, nor the encyclopaedic mind of the SPT Dizains’ Mr Klaperis Jr.; even if you lack the dizzying selection of chic interior furnishings and finishing materials of the Decco Centrs, or the financial might of Etex or Nibe beneath your wings. If you put your business out there, you will, nonetheless, meet scores of prospective customers and partners, as well as possibly even new friends.
If you require assistance, including: stand-building services, visa support, customs and transportation of exhibits, hotel booking or security, BT1 has you covered! Find out more about taking your business to the next level by becoming a participant here: http://bt1.lv/?link=10200000
Thank you for reading, please share your thoughts with everyone, in the comment section below. —CW
This article was made possible with the help of Ms Inese Libere, the Media Officer of BT1, who kindly assisted us in procuring factual information about the Centre and event programmes. Inese is in charge of media relations for a number of events, including: HOUSE, Outdoor Riga and Auto. Get in touch and you will find yourself in good hands!