Heavylift / Breakbulk
Nothing ventured, nothing gained
Ocean Five is a company that does not really fit into any category. In addition to broking activities the Singapore-based boutique works as an agent for Varamar, as well as offering a wide range of services for the heavylift and project cargo sector. That is not the end of the story by any means, however, as Ocean Five has a great deal in its programme for 2015.
«We are more than just a shipbroker.» For Heiko Hinrichs, the founder and managing director of Ocean Five, this is an important fact. As well as mediating the provision of ships and cargo space the company, which was founded in 2013, also engages in other activities. These include conducting extensive market analyses, project studies and strategic planning.
The service spectrum of the Singapore-based enterprise also includes technical support, as well as the monitoring of vessel performance. It is not located in Singapore by chance, of course: «We are based where we are in order to be closer to our customers,» Hinrichs explains.
On top of this the region also has another advantage: «The market situation in Asia is still better than in Europe,» Hinrichs states. It is true that shipping in general has little to cheer it up worldwide these days. At least he has ascertained a slight augmentation in rates since the end of last year.
2015 thus got off to a better start than it had been expected – even if the market has not improved overnight. Many engineering, procurement and construction corporations are still hesitating on committing to investments, resulting in delays in projects whose planning phase has not yet been completed. «We will probably feel these effects in the coming two years,» is Hinrichs’ forecast. However, his enterprise benefits from access to a large and above all diversified fleet, which includes barges and tugs as well as heavylift units.
Focusing on Indonesia
Hinrichs currently sees good growth potential primarily in the Southeast Asian region, particularly in Indonesia. Since last year the country has been ruled by a new government, whose agenda gives a prominent place to the realisation of infrastructure projects. «A great deal will be happening there in the years ahead,» Hinrichs says with conviction (see also page 25 of the main issue of the ITJ). Beyond its activities in Indonesia the undertaking’s business also includes projects in South Korea, China, Thailand, Algeria, the Black Sea region, Canada and the US coast of the Gulf of Mexico.
A varied portfolio
Since last year Ocean Five has also been Varamar’s commercial agent for Southeast Asia. In this capacity it not only markets the firm’s tonnage, but also the overall concept of this provider of semi-liner and tramp services (see also ITJ 39-40 / 2014, page 50).
No matter whether it operates as an agent or in its own name: for Ocean Five it is particularly important to respond quickly to inquiries. «The time factor is always key,» says Hinrichs. And of course it is also essential to provide good services since «only then customers will come back,» as Hinrichs well knows.
The enterprise’s portfolio of clientele not only includes large freight forwarding companies from Europe, but also encompasses local players. In Hinrichs’ view, Ocean Five owes its competitive advantage to the fact that it does not simply quote rates to its clients but rather also provides them with an overview of the market. «When it comes to service, we attach special importance to going the extra mile.» This strategy seems to be working. For even if patrons still think twice before spending every dollar, many of them nevertheless appreciate the value of good services and are willing to reach somewhat deeper into their pockets for it.
This is no coincidence: the manager learned the business from the bottom up. «I have worked in the chartering and operations department of a shipping line myself, and also have experience in the forwarding industry. I know what my customers need,» he self-assuredly underlines. This begins with minor details. If need be, the firm’s head sees to the revision of packing lists and transport designations himself, in order to avoid processing problems in advance.
Expansion and a new model
Hinrichs has big plans for his company in 2015. As well as the envisaged expansion and the recruitment of new personnel it will also enter into cooperation with an Indonesian undertaking. With locations in both Singapore and Jakarta, Ocean Five will then offer even better coverage of the entire Southeast Asian market.
Location is one important factor, but strategy counts for more. «The region is very important to us,» says Hinrichs. «Even if there is a lot going on here, it would be wrong to restrict ourselves to just this area though. We are active worldwide.» One thing is certain: 2015 will certainly not be a boring year for Hinrichs and Ocean Five.