Wilco Stroet – Managing Director, Callidus – Netherlands
Callidus Group’s managing director discusses the company’s creative role within the industry, as an organization that looks to offer game changers to the industry thanks to an innovation culture and staff from a variety of backgrounds outside the industry.
Being that you took on this new role in January, what mission have you established for yourself as Managing Director of Callidus Group?
When I arrived at Callidus Group, the company already had a very clear strategy in building, proofing, certifying, and developing new technologies for the oil and gas market. To this already strong foundation, I have brought my international experience and massive network. The owners of Callidus Group are very savvy businessmen with a passion for technology. This passion combined with my management experience will enable the company to further its mission of pushing the bounds of the imaginable for our clients.
The Netherlands is an innovative leader thanks to the nation’s rich history in the oil and gas industry and a plethora of local universities that not only promote research and development but allow companies to access the best talent. Moreover, new Dutch entrants to the market such as Callidus Group have the opportunity to grow and develop alongside such Dutch flagships. At Callidus, we have fostered close working relationship with these Dutch giants to promote continuously learning and exchange. The Callidus Way or working also means that each time we discover a new technology, we develop and test the product locally with our local clients. As these clients invariably host a global presence, our global impact is also widened. In my opinion, the Netherlands is a special place where a magnitude of talent and resources are available that you will not find elsewhere!
With a growing international portfolio, what geographic regions are you targeting outside of the Netherlands?
We are a Dutch based company with a focus on the Dutch market at the present time, with a current portfolio split of 95 percent local projects and five percent international endeavors. Callidus Group is currently involved in projects in Houston, Texas, as well as Stavanger, Norway. As a relatively small company, we currently take on about five customs projects at any given time and are only interested in becoming involved in projects in specific markets where we can truly add value. Ensuring that we are focusing our energy on challenging projects will help the company grow its international project portfolio to 20 percent within the coming years.
Callidus boasts that “companies that ask for regular devices are kindly referred to other manufacturers.” What enables Callidus to provide such non-standardized solutions?
Callidus Group is an extremely well structured organization, and we approach problems with extreme discipline. This approach translates into higher creativity and the replicability of our results. Through a morphological approach, our engineers first asses a problem in its entirety and then divide it into smaller issues to provide the most pertinent solution to each aspect of the problem. We then combine the solutions to create the most optimal way of solving the overall problem.
We become involved in our clients’s projects from their very inception and present the business case upfront. We can thus show to customers concretely not only the engineering necessary for a solution but also prove the economics of our engineering. Generally, when companies have an idea it remains an idea and does not come into fruition. Callidus Group invests in making dreams come true for our customers by keeping them central and working hand-in-hand with them throughout the entirety of each project. This leads to real results by finding solutions to what other companies might consider unsolvable. We also complete projects in a time frame that is suitable for the customer, but allows us enough time to correct the problem in its entirety. Overall, our company is focused on achieving results in a creative manner and that is the real magic that sets us apart!
Callidus Group’s passion for innovation has led the company to elevate innovation to an art. How does this commitment to innovate influence your day-to-day operations, and how do you promote innovation internally as the company’s leader?
The company in its entirety is all about innovation, and we believe that pumping all our revenues back into research and development is the most efficient way to continuously grow and develop. Of our current 20 staff, 11 are directly involved in research and development, meaning with have little overhead and put our resources into the creative procces. Innovation abounds in our offices with constant opportunities to learn and develop. On Friday, we host snack days to create a feeling of camaraderie and keep our employees in constant contact about new ideas, while every six weeks we host a lunch and learn in which a guest company presents a new technology. Our company culture is friendly and transparent, with employees having easy access to the company’s leaders. A work culture that is lively, fun, ambitious, and challenging enables us to continuously appeal to individuals with a broad range of expertise.
Our employees represent our largest commodity and we invest heavily in them because every individual is indispensable and necessary to the company’s success. To build our diverse workforce, we recruit university students but also experienced workers. These experienced employees bring not only their industry know-how but also a large amount of contacts to help enhance Callidus Group’s global reach. For example, we have one employee who has 25 years of experience in welding, with global contacts thanks to his lengthy experience working for global companies. As a manger, my main task is to ensure that I continue to hire and attract the brightest talent and get them to reach their highest potential.
Callidus Group values the importance of having employees with diverse backgrounds. How do you believe this will help move forward an industry often referred to as conservative?
It is my belief that many issues in the oil and gas industry have already been solved in other sectors, but we are not aware of these solutions due to tunnel vision within this conservative industry that hinders many innovations. I work to ensure that Callidus Group values diversity and hires people from other industries, such as art and mechanics to enable a broader perspective on how we approach problems. For example, once we were confronted with a challenging welding project where the issue was resolved using a technique originally employed to make aluminum cans. We were able to come up with this “out of the box” technique because one of our employees had worked as an engineer in the soda industry. This type of welding had never previously been used in the offshore industry, but we were able to use it to solve a previously “unsolvable” problem by bypassing the traditional oil and gas approach.
Environmentally friendly operations are increasingly a concern of companies in the industry. How do you ensure the least possible negative impact on the environment resulting from your activities?
At Callidus Group, we believe it is necessary to invest in your people and invest in the planet in order to have a successful and long lasting company that can be passed down to the next generation. My management philosophy is based around the three Ps of people, planet, and profits.
To give once concrete example, we have designed our own heating system inside the facilities that draws heat from the differential in water temperatures below the surface to decrease our environmental footprint. This initiative is part of the company’s larger effort to promote sustainable measures because our company believes in creating an environment that sets an example for the industry as a whole.
Moreover, we want to be involved in green projects such as offshore wind farms, as well as the use of composites in our equipment. I personally believe the use of synthetics instead of steel can be both an environmentally friendly and cost effective. Overall, if we help reduce the capex and opex for our customers and promote sustainable measures that benefits all parties, then we are doing our job.
Where do you hope to see Callidus Group in five years?
Among our clear goals is to expand the company to around 38 employees in the near future to expand our global reach and to foster even more creativity within the organization thanks to employees from different backgrounds. Our company culture is simply profit driven. We believe that by creating innovations we can change the world, and we thus aim to develop products and processes that change our industry.