Raemakers – Managing Director, Euro-Rigging – Netherlands
The managing director of Euro-Rigging discusses the changes in ownership the company has undergone in recent years, and how this has driven the company’s strategy to become partner of choice in horizontal and vertical transport worldwide.
Let’s start talking about the recent history of Euro-Rigging. The company has been through some changes recently: how is the company focused today as a result of those changes?
I started with Euro Rigging in 2001, and came on board at a time that the company was growing steadily. In 2011, Roderik van Seumeren, the former CEO of Mammoet, set up a company called Meemaken, and decided that the first company that he wanted to take over was Euro-Rigging. I knew Roderik from my days back at Mammoet: in 2011 he contacted me stating his interest in becoming the main shareholder in Euro-Rigging, with the management team taking the remaining shares.
After this took place, we spent a lot of time developing the new strategy: our new focus was to be the partner of choice in horizontal and vertical transport worldwide. We wanted to be the authority in this field. We also wanted to focus on worldwide partners, setting up offices in the USA and Turkey.
What was it that made you realize that the new strategy was a viable plan?
The plan was already there, but once Roderik came on board, with his entrepreneurial mentality, we were really in a position to get started with these plans.
Last year we had tremendous growth, doubling our number of personnel: today, we have 44 engineers worldwide. We set up a company in Istanbul, Turkey – HLTS Heavy Lifting & Transport Solutions – and together with Roderik we also set up a business in Houston which is owned by the Meemaken group as well. We have developed the concept of what we call integrated projects; originally we were an engineering and consultancy firm, but now clients are asking us to provide the design and the calculations but they also want us to build the structure, test it and certify it. They want us to deliver the finished product and as a result, we are focusing on that now.
The second focus is that if we develop a plan of how to carry out an operation or how to get a problem solved in the field of offshore, we have to take the lead in the operation itself. So, where we originally only developed the plan for the clients, now they also ask us to carry out the entire operation. We are focusing on proving clients with the entire solution, taking care of the whole set-up of the operation. We work together with our partners – with construction companies for example – to delivery the entire requirement to the client. This is actually new and if you talk about the future in oil and gas – onshore and offshore – we want to provide a full package to our clients; we want to be the solution for their horizontal and vertical transport problems.
Why did you decide to open operations in Turkey?
In the Netherlands we have, in general, a problem in finding people with high level of education in engineering, who are familiar with mechanical engineering, who speak English, who are dedicated, who are enthusiastic and who are young. I had a contact in the IT sector who was developing a business in Turkey, and he mentioned that the opportunities of the Turkish market can be very interesting for Dutch companies. I approached one of our engineers that is originally from Turkey and together with him we developed a business plan. We determined what we were looking for in Holland and we decided to go to Turkey because they speak English fluently, they are dedicated, they are young, the salary levels are interesting and I can get there within two and half hours. It made sense for the business to go there.
To what extent do the capabilities in Turkey complement what you have here in the Netherlands?
We are still in the developing phase, but the final aim is that we work with HLTS in Istanbul for Turkish clients and as an extension of our Dutch activities. Back in October, we had a kind of ‘boot camp’ where all the engineers came down to Holland for a full week of instruction and exchange of information and know-how, just to make sure they have the same base line as we have here in Utrecht.
Has the client base shifted with this change of profile for you or you are still working with the same people that you were working before?
We are still working with the same people. Now the next step is not only engineering in Turkey, but also developing and constructing there; price-wise this could be very interesting for our clients. These types of activities are the ones that are under development now.
Can you tell us more in terms of projects that you have worked on since shifting the business strategy, the challenges that you encountered on the way and the strategies you implemented?
We are developing this new phase and we have to convince clients that we are, in fact, capable of managing this new approach. The main focus is project management, focusing on risks, cost efficiency and other solutions. This focus has been guided by in-house project managers that talk to the clients, understand their needs and translate that into our capabilities. If we talk about clients, for instance, we have done a job for Van Oord that together with Mammoet installed equipment in a vessel. We developed the whole system, together with Roderik and his brother, exchanged ideas with our engineers and developed the tools and elements of the operation that should be built and were also present during the installation. This is the kind of job that we are focusing on now. We are also in the business related to wind farms and offshore with Dutch, Belgian and German companies. We try to cover the whole scope and not only prepare the plans; this is not easy, I must confess; we are not there yet but that is the final aim. Our goal is to offer the clients the complete package and I think that in the future you will see that the main core engineering is being done elsewhere (India, Vietnam, Indonesia) while the high specialization work is being done here in the Netherlands; and we would like to be a partner in those developments.
What does your client list look like in the oil and gas sector? Which profile of company are you working with?
We have two involvements in the oil and gas sector. The first one involved talking to the operators directly – Shell, BP, Total, Exxon – because they have projects that need horizontal and vertical transportation, and with this being one of the most risky parts of the operation, they like to have an independent party supervising and reviewing these activities. We sit together with the operators in a project team and share information about the operation as a consultant. The second involvement is, as mentioned before, engineering, design and integrated projects; with this approach we talk mainly to the contractors of the oil and gas industry, the companies who are actually doing an activity where they need to subcontract part of their operation or equipment to companies like Euro-Rigging.
Is decommissioning something you will be looking into in the future?
Yes – and that’s one of the developments we see in the North Sea in the years to come. In the past, we have worked with renewables companies on their installation projects in the North Sea. The expertise we gained on these projects is directly applicable to oil and gas decommissioning. In this area, we won’t be focused on doing the very large heavy lift operations, but rather, on decommissioning smaller parts of rigs that will facilitate the heavy lifts that will come later. This will be an important focus for Euro-Rigging in the future. On the consultancy side, we are involved in decommissioning projects. There is a need for expertise on lifting, and all kinds of non-routine techniques. Here we offer our consultancy services directly to the end user.
To what extent do your consultancy projects lead to engineering work, and vice versa?
As a consultant, you have to convince your client that you know how to design a crane, and secondly, you have to know what kind of operations you can expect in the field. We work on both of these areas with our engineers, who are designing the cranes and also active on operations: they know what can be done with the crane that they have designed. That combination is of value for a consultant.
How has your job changed over the last few years?
One of the advantages of a growing company is that I now have more time to focus on the bigger picture. Whereas before, I was fully occupied with the daily running of the company, now I am more occupied on the long term; sales is an increasingly large part of my job, as well as quality, and general management.
With this new strategy for Euro-Rigging, how do you expect the company to grow in the years to come?
We made quite a number of large steps last year and the year before, and one of our priorities now is making sure we have the expertise and training in-house to be able to deliver on this new growth. Beyond this, we aim to grow here in Utrecht and also focus on the further development of companies abroad, looking at partnerships and working with agents at first until we assess the potential of the markets.