For Griffin Marine Services, Delivering quality outcomes for the navy and its contractors comes down to supporting the team with the latest technology and progress.
Shipping industry veterans and boilermakers by trade, Troy Ranford and Martyn Stroud founded Griffin Marine Services in 2014, which has now expanded to an international footprint servicing the Navy through its prime contractors.
Since bringing in Michael Sertorio as an equity partner in 2021 for his business acumen, to help evolve Griffin’s capabilities, operating model and management team, the business has doubled in size from 50 to 100 staff in just two years.
Together, the three directors have over 60 years of experience in shipbuilding, ship repairs, marine maintenance, and management experience.
Initially offering specialised welding which expanded to painting, mechanical and project management, Griffin has now become a single point of contact for multiple specialist services in the marine sector, with a particular focus on the Defence industry.
Nationally, the company has expanded from Sydney where it started, to Perth where head office is based, and Darwin and Cairns. More recently, they have supported clients throughout the Pacific. It is the only company of its type supporting the Navy’s Regional Maintenance Centres nationally.
Working primarily with Defence, the company services prime contractors such as Austal, Babcock, BAE, Navantia, Norsta, Thales and Teekay and has worked on every Navy platform over the years.
“We have a lot of direct contact with the Navy who is our ultimate client via the prime contractors. Most of our day-to-day contact is through clients like Babcock and Thales, but it is a partnership with the client and Navy across the country.
“We’ve had that strong footprint for many years and now it’s really about building capability and responsiveness to be able to serve those needs. It can be quite a responsive environment with urgent works to keep vessels out at sea and in operation and we have an important role in that,” Mr Sertorio explained
There’s quite an important role that we have played in support for the Pacific nations and the Commonwealth. We’ve done a lot of work in the Pacific including Tonga, Solomon Islands, Fiji and PNG over the last 18 months so we’re now truly international.”
BUILDING GROWTH AND SCALABILITY
With an extensive commercial background, Mr Sertorio is charged with developing the business to the next stage as it continues to grow and meet the demand of the industry.
This includes implementing a new field management system through Insight Advisory Group called AroFlo, as they prepare to support the evolving needs of clients going forward and provide improved management systems to their team. Griffin worked with Consulting Principal Adrien Giraud and Senior Consultant Sylvia Cruz.
The AroFlo system, implemented in 2022, has streamlined Griffin’s data, project management, compliance, and auditing, to make the business more efficient and future-ready.
“Now we essentially have all our data on a single platform. We’ve leveraged the opportunity to make it a much more end-to-end process that drives our efficiency.
“Having data on one platform is going to be important to utilise it with tools such as AI in the future, so we’ve set it up with that in mind so we can leverage that in the future,” he said.
Griffin’s commercial interests have evolved, serving not just defence but also a range of commercial vessels including cruise liners, mega yachts and tugs.
“We’re doing more marine infrastructure as well with major upgrades particularly in Darwin, Cairns and HMAS Stirling coming up”.
The upgrades in technology and management processes have set a core plank for Griffin’s strategic model going forward. “Having the enablers to help people work more efficiently and support the business strategically has been critical and we’ve done that quickly in a couple of years,” he said.
“We’re managing that growth carefully. It is a high-risk environment with critical work, and we need to make sure we do that well, cope with that growth and execute and maintain quality as we grow.”
CULTIVATING CULTURE FOR CLIENTS
David Singleton, former Managing Director of Austal and senior executive of major engineering companies in the defence and commercial sectors, has joined Griffin as a board advisor.
The directors also recently hired a General Manager who will be joining in November this year, Chris Stoll, a Navy veteran with senior management experience in engineering and program management with Austal and Babcock.
“Our big focus is quality of staff. We’re putting a lot of energy into recruiting the right quality people and providing the right workplace culture,” Mr Sertorio said.
“The quality of our management is really important. We are proud to say we’ve got a great team. We’re adding to that with Chris to take us to another level with a complementary mix of expertise and strategy.”
A key focus for the management team is cultivating a healthy culture with the right processes in place to enable efficient responsiveness and quality outcomes for clients.
“The first thing is the safety and health and wellbeing of our people and our clients and everyone we serve, so that’s a big point of focus that we continue to heavily invest in. Closely linked to that is culture. It is something we talk about a lot and put energy into because having that set correctly comes through in all our work,” he said.
“It’s about continuous improvement, dealing with the challenges that exist in the economy, what we’re doing with technology and development training to be able to better manage what can be really challenging environments, and making what we do efficient and cost-effective to give value for money to our clients.”
Griffin has received awards for its accomplishments, including being a Finalist in the Ministers Award for Excellence in Defence (SME) in 2023 and 2022, highlighting the team’s service to the Defence industry. “It reflects the incredible energy and impact they’ve had in those places and the profile in a competitive industry in a relatively short amount of time,” Mr Sertorio said.
The business continues to move forward with the founders’ culture of responsiveness and high-quality outcomes for clients, through having the right processes and people in place. The investment with Insight Advisory Group continues to pay dividends.
“It’s something that the business continues to be known for, the responsiveness and being able to deliver with a real can-do attitude and that’s as prevalent today as it always has been,” he said.
“It’s wrapped up in having the right culture and the processes to manage and enhance that. We focus our attention on safety, quality, people, and the right processes, and we’re continuing to go forward and grow.”