Strategic Marine hoists sales profile

14/05/2008 - 22:00

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Henderson-based shipbuilder, Strategic Marine Pty Ltd, has won the WA Business News 2008 Rising Stars Award on the back of a seven-year growth campaign.

Strategic Marine hoists sales profile

SO, how does a rising WA-based ship builder take on the global boat building market? According to Strategic Marine Pty Ltd, it ventures into super-yachts.

"A lot of our clients, being in the oil and gas industry, have a lot of money to play with and so they can afford luxury boats," marketing manager Jamie Anderson told WA Business News.

"It's a very lucrative market." Strategic Marine is a locally based business with an international outlook and a rapidly growing reputation for producing high-quality commercial vessels for markets across the globe.

In 2006-07, the company consolidated its position as a prominent international ship builder by winning orders for 125 new boats worth more than $US210 million from Asian, European, Middle Eastern and American shipping companies.

Strategic Marine operates under: chairman Mark Newbold, a former Geraldton Boat Builders Pty Ltd (GBB) adviser in finance and legal matters; Vietnam business operations managing director Mark Schiller, formerly a GBB contractor; and managing director of international business Ron Anderson, a former national marine manager with Austrade.

"I think staying private has helped; I mean it gives the directors a bit more ownership with their decisions," Mr Anderson said.

"Any decision they make is pretty much where it stops.

They're very adaptive and it allows us to be a lot more pro-active than we could be if we were public.

"That's really spurred our willingness to start operations offshore.

With the Aussie dollar rising the way it did in early 2000, we couldn't compete in the international market being based in WA, so we had to look at alternative shipyards, which we've done, and now we're providing quality vessels at a nice price and we're selling them to customers.

"We still consider ourselves a WA company, our headquarters are in Henderson, but we've had to set up offices offshore." In the seven years Strategic Marine has been incorporated it has established shipyards in WA, Singapore, Vietnam, and Mexico, employing more than 1,500 staff.

In June 2005, the company had a turnover of $14.4 million, which is forecast to balloon to $85.5 million by the end of the current financial year.

During that same period, the number of employees increased from 136 to 1,394.

"We attribute our success in terms of setting up shipyards strategically in regions where we can't actually compete [from WA], whether it's delivery or whatever," Mr Anderson said.

"We've got Asia covered, South- East Asia, in the Americas we've got operations, and we're looking to set up in Europe." Mr Anderson said Europe was an important aspect to Strategic Marine's future growth, particularly in its bid to tap into the Russian oil fields.

He said keeping an Australian culture within all of its operations has also contributed to its success.

"The fact that we can claim that all of our management team in all of our shipyards no matter where it is is Australian has contributed too.

Every general manager is Australian and we instill all our skills that we develop in WA in these countries, which is something viewed in a positive light by our clients," Mr Anderson said.

According to its directors, Strategic Marine is committed to continuing the strategy of expanding further into global markets as new business opportunities arise.

They believe they have the managerial systems, the financial controls, the manufacturing capacity, the lines of communication, and the human resources in place to cope with rapidly rising demand.

Despite a flurry of recent orders, they claim the company has demonstrated resilience in all of these areas to meet tough launch deadlines, as well as keeping clients satisfied.

One major deadline looming in the company's future is the launch of a wholly owned subsidiary called Avenger Yachts, which will be used for Strategic Marine to muscle into the super-yacht market.

Mr Anderson said Avenger would operate separately to help the company breed a new culture capable of meeting luxury boat-buyers' demands.

"Put simply, we're extremely committed to growing Strategic Marine; it's almost negligent for a global shipbuilder not to at the moment," he said.

"There are not enough shipbuilders out there to meet demand." Despite operating with tight financial and legal controls, the company appears to be well ahead of the race in meeting that demand.

Mr Anderson said the company's systems had underpinned its rise and success by bringing local workforces up to international standards, enabling the company to turn overseas shipyards into premier ship building facilities, while enforcing stringent safety standards.

Since 2001, Strategic Marine has delivered nearly 50 aluminium patrol boats, 75 landing craft, 30 crew boats and a large contingent of commercial vessels to clients all over the world.

By taking a pro-active approach to growing the company, Mr Anderson believes it is well positioned to take on new challenges, including building luxury boats.

He said being nominated for the WA Business News Rising Stars award had validated his belief that Strategic Marine was an employer of choice, and had proved a valuable medium in raising the company's profile.

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