Augustow is a small, popular resort town nestled in northeastern Poland. Surrounded by lakes and bordering the Augustow Primeval Forest, the town is known for its clear, healthy air and natural beauty.
Recently elected Mayor Wojciech Walulik has ambitious plans to attract foreign investment through building modern infrastructure, easing business regulations and promoting its exemplary workforce. He plans to purchase surrounding land and develop them to accommodate business facilities, new apartment buildings, schools and transport facilities.
However, the mayor stresses: “New businesses must not have an impact on the environment because Augustow is known for its natural environment, and we do not want to spoil that.”
Given its geography, the main industry supporting Augustow’s economy is shipbuilding. Located in the town are some world-renowned shipbuilding manufacturers, such as Slepsk, Atlantic Marine and Balt-Yacht.
Slepsk was set up 28 years ago and two years after, started building motorboats, most of which are sold in Europe. It is the only company of its kind in Europe that manufactures, assembles and delivers its motorboats. Slepsk is able to offer better prices because of lower labor costs that countries like Germany, Denmark or France cannot match.
“That is why we are so attractive – one point of contact, low cost and tailor made boats for customers,” said Director of Production Robert Hanisz.
Slepsk is also moving towards a leaner management structure and streamlined manufacturing systems to shorten delivery times.
A younger competitor is Atlantic Marine, which has been in the market for 15 years. The company builds boats measuring between five and nine meters, all tailored according to specification of its buyers. It boats are sold in several EU countries through different dealers and distributors, except in Poland where they are sold directly.
“We focus on production while dealers focus on sales. We need to keep a certain level of quality because that is our main hold on clients,” explained Manager of Transport and Logistics Piotr Lisek.
In business for 26 years, Balt-Yacht is owned by Benedkyt Kozloski and his wife, both of whom have more than 30 years of experience in boatbuilding. Balt-Yacht takes pride in its ability to adapt the latest technologies while preserving an artisan touch in making its boats.
“Experienced and skilled workers are most important as every specific detail matters. We prefer to produce less but of the topmost quality liners,” Kozloski said.
Balt-Yacht focuses on high-end, top quality luxury boats that are more technical focus, beautifully designed, and environmentally friendly. Even if it builds fewer boats, the company focuses on a wealthier clientele and nurtures a different brand image.
Amid the mayor’s moves to attract more foreign business, Augustow’s yacht builders have managed to change the perception of Polish products as high quality, high-end and luxury goods.
Mayor Walulik’s dream is to attract high-tech IT companies to start planting their seeds in Augustow and grow there. The mayor is very optimistic because he has received an increasing number of queries from interested businesses from around the world.