In the late 19th century, the House of Habsburg began exploiting the enormous forests in Central Bosnia and the first Krivaja sawmill was built. It grew over the years and became a huge combine when the area was part of Yugoslavia. Known as “Wood Town”, Zavidovići built up around this flourishing business.
In the 1980s, the company had more than 12,000 blue- and white-collar workers and it had branches in the United States, Germany, France and Algeria. It produced furniture and tools, designed engineering works and had its own transport and catering businesses.
It managed to survive the wars in the 1990s, during which houses tended to be targeted rather than factories. The staff carried on working even when snipers were around.
However, Krivaja struggled in the post-war period and today its workforce does not even amount to 40% of the 10,000 people it employed in 1991.
I went there in 2014 with entrepreneurs and architects on a business trip. It gave me an opportunity to enter the Krivaja premises and document the situation in the factory during a period of transition when the possibility of privatization was being explored for the state-owned company.