Representing Damen all over the world
Selling vessels to countries around the world is quite an achievement. So how does Damen organise its global sales activities? By dividing the planet up into seven different regions, each headed by its own dedicated Area Director.
We asked each of them to give an insight into the mind-set of ‘wherever there is water, there is Damen’. One aspect rings true all over the world – building strong business relationships is the key to success.
Benelux, Mijndert Wiesenekker
The Dutch maritime cluster is an extremely productive environment for developing new ideas with clients and partners. These collaborative efforts have produced numerous success stories with real international significance; hybrid tugs, search and rescue vessels and tidal energy projects to name just a few.
Companies are becoming increasingly international, and this is only consolidating. This means that we work closely with other sales regions to support global clients with a broad package of additional services. An exciting trend is the need for greater digitalisation. For example, remote monitoring is now standard on some of our vessels.
Having a strong technical background is crucial to be able to offer the best advice. By understanding our clients’ markets and business models, we can really work together to come up with the optimum solution.
Africa, Ronald Maat
Business in Africa has really grown in recent years. This increasing activity has also been accompanied by more competition, which keeps us sharp and focused on what our clients need. Damen Civil – construction of the full range of shipyard infrastructure – has been an especially successful part of the portfolio in Africa.
I love the diversity of ethnic groups and cultures of the African continent. Openness and warmth are definitely the common characteristics.
This is also a region with a wealth of natural resources – and over the next five years I expect to see some of the world’s poorest countries become some of the world’s richest due to their expanding oil and gas operations. This will bring with it increased attention from international shipping – there are going to be a lot of opportunities.
North, West & Southern Europe, Frank De Lange
Just as in other regions, there is great cultural diversity here. This means you have to be flexible – doing business in Germany, for instance, is different to doing business in Italy. Wherever you are though, regardless of the cultural difference, trust and being a reliable partner are the bases of a successful and lasting business relationship.
Although the recent oil and gas crisis has affected the whole of Europe, we are now seeing a slow and certain recovery based on exploration.
There is a wide geographical variety for our vessels. Aquaculture is big in Norway and Scotland, whereas our tugs are sold all over Europe. The public transport market in southern Europe is really up and coming as the economy and tourism improve, while in Scandinavia there is a strong demand for cleaner ferries like hybrid or full electric. We face a lot of competition, but I love the challenge of turning a ‘no’ into a ‘yes’.
Eastern Europe, Vadim Akimov
This is the largest sales area of all; Russia and all the former Soviet and Warsaw Pact countries, plus Greece and Cyprus. This scale is unique; Russia alone has eleven time zones. And yet, people are actually quite consistent in terms of communication. Direct and straightforward is how I would describe it.
Port development around the Baltic, Black Sea and Eastern Russia was a very active market last year. I am proud to say that there is a Damen vessel working in every single Russian port. In the future we want to develop the Damen Technical Cooperation more – building Damen vessels at local yards. So we are looking forward to meeting local construction partners.
What do I enjoy most about this job? Selling so many different types of vessels. Tugs, dredgers, superyachts – the whole portfolio. This is what makes it so exciting.
Americas, Sander van Oord
This region holds the North and South American continents, including the polar circles and the Equator. By definition, this is a great demonstration of how Damen’s standard designs can fit a multitude of conditions. It also shows the importance of listening carefully to what our clients really need.
Building vessels under license, together with local partner yards, forms a major part of our business. In some countries, this support has also involved building a shipyard even before we have started building boats. This transfer of knowledge is vital for creating sustainable local shipbuilding industries.
I feel privileged to have spent the last 20 years working here. Our success in this region is due to the dedication of our team – they form the strong network of local offices and Service Hubs in Houston, Brazil, Cuba, Argentina, Canada, Mexico, Venezuela and Trinidad.
Middle East, Bram Langeveld
From a technical perspective the Middle East is challenging in terms of its tough climatic conditions. This translates into technically demanding solutions for the ships we produce for our clients here.
Due to the prolonged drop in oil prices we have seen a growing demand for tailored financing solutions. Damen Customer Finance has been more and more active in introducing a variety of financing solutions.
As well as the steady, but gradual growth of public transport and port & terminal markets, the defence and security sectors are becoming increasingly important. To meet this demand, we offer an extensive range of commercial off the shelf products in addition to fully tailored naval solutions. To this end, I think that it is very important to remain personally committed to a region and its clients.
Asia Pacific, Roland Briene
Of course cultural diversity is present in every sales region, but the differences – say between Australia, Malaysia, Vietnam and Bangladesh – are so big that it is just incredibly interesting to do business here. Respect is the key driver to success in any culture. As such, we have built a team of enthusiastic Sales Managers; each one with a real ‘click’ with their specific countries.
Over the last five years or so we have really expanded our scope; working in the Philippines, Bangladesh, China and South Korea. This has required a real coordinated approach – working with the ‘One Damen’ concept in mind. There are still lots of opportunities though – we want to continue this growth by breaking into other markets.
Yes, the travel times involved are long, but I get to see some of the most beautiful places on Earth. For example, going for a morning run past the Sydney Opera House is unforgettable.