It’s a family affair at shipbuilder Strategic Marine, which has opened its first shipyard in Vietnam.
HENDERSON-BASED shipbuilder Strategic Marine officially opened its $25 million shipyard in Vietnam this week, signalling the company's confidence in its ability to successfully navigate through the current global economic conditions.
Strategic Marine chairman Mark Newbold told those attending the opening that the 136,000 square metre Vietnamese yard had already won more than $95 million in orders.
Mr Newbold said with three other yards, located in Australia, Singapore and Mexico, the company was currently constructing 63 fully-financed vessels with an order book value of $252.3 million.
He added that an additional 77 vessels, valued at $123 million, were already contracted by international clients.
When Strategic Marine was established, Mr Newbold aimed to minimise risk by locating manufacturing operations in a number of countries with different economies and currencies.
As part of this strategy, developing and maintaining relationships with offshore investors was paramount, especially in regions such as Asia, which provided plenty of opportunity for profitable work as compared to Australia.
These relationships play an important role in helping the company to arrange finance for potential clients caught in the global credit squeeze.
But it's not just the sound business planning that has played a key role in Strategic's success to date; it's also about keeping it in the family.
Mr Newbold's daughter, Kate Newbold, was central to the establishment of this latest shipyard in her role as Strategic Marine Vietnam's assistant general manager.
Although returning to Vietnam for this week's ribbon cutting, Ms Newbold has since returned to her day-job as general manager of the Perth office after working alongside Strategic Marine's Vietnam managing director, Mark Schiller, in organising the new yard.
Mr Schiller's son, Wayne is a plasma manager for the company.
And fellow Strategic Marine managing director, Ron Anderson stays in close contact with his son Jamie, who is the company's marketing manager.
Rounding out the family tree is Mr Newbold's son, Reece, who is currently based at the company's Singapore office working under Mr Anderson.
Strategic Marine was incorporated in 2001 and exports its shipbuilding expertise through these international yards, which employ almost 2,000 staff.
Following seven years of exceptional growth, Strategic Marine won WA Business News' 2008 Rising Stars Award.
At that stage, Strategic had its sights set on entering the highly-lucrative super-yacht market as a spin-off to its extensive work in the oil and gas industry.
But in light of the current economic climate, the start-up of this new business, through a planned, wholly-owned subsidiary to be known as Avenger Yachts, could be delayed.
From Vietnam, Mr Newbold also highlighted his company as the first to fund an apprenticeship scheme in the country, undertaken by 55 Vietnamese in a two-year course covering a range of specialised shipbuilding skills.
"This scheme is expected to boost the national government's plans to expand and modernise its shipbuilding industry, while helping us to upgrade skill levels," Mr Newbold said.
Mr Schiller said the newly introduced apprenticeship scheme had been adapted from similar programs currently operating in Australia.
"The program has been designed to give Vietnamese trainees the theoretical and practical experience they need to become skilled welders, fabricators, electricians and refrigeration specialists," Mr Schiller said.