Breaking into the Croatian market was far from easy, says SGB Central & Eastern European sales manager Jir i Batik. 'German technology is very respected here. Many people from the former Yugoslavia went to West Germany as 'guest workers' in the days of Tito, and became familiar with German equipment and DIN standards. To succeed we have to offer something a bit different, but of equal quality.'
Key to the Praguebased SGB team's success in selling the Cuplock falsework and Multiform formwork systems to Domovinski bridge contractor Industrogradnja was the versatility of the systems. Less than 5% of the US$1.6M plus package was purpose-made for the bridge project, the rest is all standard components, many of them manufactured in the Czech Republic.
Industrogradnja deputy project manager Hrvoje Vukic explains: 'Cuplock and Multiform aren't specialised bridge systems: they can be used on many types of projects, and Cuplock can be used as access scaffolding if needed.
'Plus Cuplock can be erected without cranes, which is a great advantage here.
We already own a similar but much heavier system, which does need cranes, and heavier foundations to take the greater loads.'
Low labour rates in Croatia make the large specialised formwork and falsework systems developed in the high wage West to maximise productivity less attractive.
Although Croatia is building many highway bridges, the vast majority are relatively modest structures with most structural elements precast.
Industrogradjna itself has only built two major crossings in the last 10 years, largely due to the chaos following the breakup of Yugoslavia.
Batik believes that another attraction offered by SGB was its free design service, also based in Prague, and its on-site support.
INFOPLUS www. sgb. co. uk