Heavylift / Breakbulk
In his own element
He could not stay away for a whole year. Many players in the industry have discovered that establishing a firm, nurturing it for 33 years and guiding its fortunes for a long period of time is actually the work of a lifetime. Lars Rolner, who helped to fashion SAL Heavy Lift, recently began a new stage of his life by founding United Heavylift – but not in a vacuum, as he told Christian Doepgen in an interview.
Mr Rolner, you achieved a great deal with SAL over a 33 year period. Was that not enough for you?
I must admit that at 54 years old, I feel a bit too young to retire. Moreover, the latest developments in the market are still exciting.
What prompted you to want to return to the sector?
Two shipping companies approached me independently in January this year. They each asked me if I would be interested in marketing them. One of the enterprises was Arkon Shipping & Projects, the other was Heino Winter. The task really appealed to me.
How far have you progressed with your new company?
We require the right structure for the various tasks. We are currently developing this, but United Heavylift officially started operations on 1 April.
How are you establishing the company?
In addition to the headquarters in Hamburg, we have founded an office in Seoul (South Korea), and one in Shanghai (China) will also follow in the near future. We are currently additionally represented by agents in Singapore and Dubai (United Arab Emirates).
How have you organised your team?
We currently have 32 staff members on our payroll. We collaborate very closely with Arkon, as four of its employees share the offices with us. Basically, 16 people work together in the marketing sector at the moment.
Does the technical personnel form the other arm of the hinge?
This is where our colleagues who belong to Heavylift@Sea come into the picture. We developed this entity over the past two and a half years. Those people are engineers from various sectors, including the shipbuilding industry, among others. They are specialists for demanding loads.
What capacities can United Heavylift market?
We have eight ship to charter out. That will rise to 18 units in summer. All these vessels are already in the market.
The oil and gas industry is very close to your heart. What effect is today’s low oil price having on your business?
There was an immediate response from the market. I suspect that we will have to cope with existing situation until the end of 2016. Nevertheless, longer-term projects still cannot be ruled out today.
What regions are you thinking of here?
In my opinion Africa is just beginning to develop, and that is where I see big opportunities in future. We will sail for Africa.
How do you rate your chances?
We follow the goods flows. We have just transported two shipments to the US west coast, and sent the ships on to the Far East from there, in order to ensure a better vessel utilisation rate. Europe is becoming more attractive, given the decrease in costs and larger consignment volumes.
Which market has great potential?
Iran – when the sanctions are lifted.
What projects are you now pursuing?
So far we have closed contracts for ten loads. The largest module that we have moved weighed 420 t.
Are you in competition with your former enterprise?
We deal with loads weighing up to approximately 1,000 t, and that is quite a different sector to SAL’s, HHL’s or Jumbo’s, for example.
Why did you locate your head office in Hamburg’s HafenCity?
You know that I am a fan of the HafenCity area. We have a direct view of the southwest terminal from our offices. We are in our element here.