Old School Ilica

"90% of the time when people bring something and ask if it is salvageable, mostly it is but it cannot look like new."

Oaza: What are all the carpentry services that you offer in your shop?
Nino Radulović: We do joinery, furniture making, furniture restauration, small and big repairs. We primarily do restorations, custom builds or space adaptations. The other direction is going into something that is our own product, to be recognizable.

We have been here for a year already, the space is rented but we are hoping to extend the lease. When I first rented it, the space was in disastrous condition. The way it is now is a temporary condition. If all goes well we plan on getting a loan and buying additional machines and equipping the workshop.

Oaza: This is a new company? Who is the founder?
Nino Radulović: I founded everything and started working with my brother in February 2015. I found an additional worker through the ads, through the unemployment office… by chance, out of 150 ads. We clicked. I noticed him because he said "I can do it and I want to do it". I did not have good working relationships with my former co-workers. This guy had a lot of his own tools and that is what we started with but because of the job requirements you make the leap and get additional tools, little by little.

Oaza: When did you start doing this? How did you get practical knowledge?
Nino Radulović: I have been involved in this since I was 14. I was educated and learned my craft from a group of top masters. That workshop was the second in craftsmanship quality in Croatia. Along with a master's exam I also passed the design exam. Altogether, I have been in the carpentry business for ten years.

Oaza: What are your ambitions for your future work, what are the main needs that have to be satisfied when it comes to equipping the workshop?
Nino Radulović: The greatest ambition is to get a combination machine with five different specific functions that makes production easier but does not take up much space. In short, that machine can process real wood (not just flat materials), it can cut panels, it can prepare wood for pre-installation, and a more skillful carpenter can almost carve in letters. We also said we would get a lathe but that is a long-term plan.

Oaza: Equipping the workshop and starting a business is an important turning point for you. What sets you apart from the competition?
Nino Radulović: What is important is connections and initiative. Today, the idea is not that important, it is important to realize the idea. I started from scratch. I do everything by hand, I turn on the machines as little as possible. Some people explicitly want it done by hand, especially the old things. If you use a machine, it is not the same anymore. We also have an associate, a restorer. She sands, takes paint off, etc., she likes it. Tamara has been in the restoration business for several years.

Oaza: What sorts of orders do you take? Who do you work for?
Nino Radulović: There is a little bit of everything: weekend homes on the coast, private residences, bistros… we cover a broad spectrum, we do not say no to anyone. You listen to all of your customers' wishes, think about it, work it out, and offer a solution. We also do some things which are complicated – we often have architecture students coming here. All of the work we did for them has been on display, which we feel glad about.

Oaza: And what about getting the materials?
Nino Radulović: Every purchase of materials means a new bill of expenses and a new struggle. The variety of materials available on the Croatian market is very small and the materials very expensive. We just had a situation where we could not find oak with 2-3% moisture in the whole of Croatia.

Oaza: How large of a user network have you managed to establish so far?
Nino Radulović: Actually, surprisingly large! Great friendships, new clients, associates, outside contractors. At the start I thought there would not be any people, but we did a few promotional campaigns (flyers, etc.), people are passing on recommendations about us… People walk through the door and trust is built. 90% of the time when people bring something and ask if it is salvageable, mostly it is but it cannot look like new.

Oaza: Except for the services of repairing and making custom furniture you also develop your own products?
Nino Radulović: Well, yes, but that is currently on hold because our workload is too big. We have a design for a children's toy that has passed part of an expert committee and all the testing. We are looking into developing it and the possibilities of sales.

Oaza: What is the number of hours spent on restoring a piece?
Nino Radulović: That very much depends on the piece. To restore a window from the beginning to being half done, there are four steps. To remove, sand, prepare and re-glue takes us about four hours. We charge 150 HRK for the work and it takes us half of a working day.

Stolarija Karlo
Ilica 55

Cabinet Making and Woodworking

Nino Radulović – owner
+385 (0)97 780 5544

Working hours: 08:00 – 15:00 (Mon-Fri)
08:00 – 14:3 (Sat)

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