Our people are our greatest asset


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President of Wilhelmsen Ships Service, Mr. Bjørge Grimholt, visited Brazil recently.

Wilhelmsen Ships Service is a leading provider of recognized products and services to the maritime industry. This includes safety products and services, Unitor marine products, Unitor and Nalfleet marine chemicals, maritime logistics and ships agency.

The company has built ip a global service organization to serve clients around the world, and has been present in Brazil since 1976.

Mr. Bjørge Grimholt (in the photo to the left) has been the President of WSS since 2011, and was accompanied by the Vice-President for Marine Products, Mr. Kjell André Engen, when he visited Brazil recently.

«Wilhelmsen Ships Service employs over 100 people here in Brazil, and I am here to meet the employees and to get an update on our local operations and business. Our schedule is quite busy, with a variety of presentations and I have presented the company strategy to the employees. We are also meeting with important clients», Mr. Grimholt explains.

He is very satisfied with his Brazilian co-workers.

«They are our greatest asset. They are competent and dedicated and work very hard. Some of our Brazilian employees have been working for the company for 25 years, and this is quite unique. A long-term and stable approach to the Brazilian market is another strength of WSS in Brazil

Brazil is a very important market to Wilhelmsen Ships Service, and the Brazilian offshore sector a priority to the company.

«In the Americas region, Brazil, Panama and North America are the most important markets to us. Brazil has had a strong position the last years, and although the market is changing, Brazil is and will continue to be very important to us, and we are not scaling down. It is no exaggeration to say that the global market has not been normal since 2009. A lot depends on the oil price right now. Wilhelmsen Ships Service does however has a long-term approach in everything we do. Our company is 150 years old, and there will always be market variations, ups and downs. Our job is to adjust our business accordingly. 60 percent of our costs are related to personnel, and if business is weak, we might have to adjust, but this is something we do all the time, all over the world. In Brazil we have a local organization with a local management, and this is a strength and exactly how we would like to operate all over the world. We want to build bridges between the different geographical locations», Mr. Grimholt says.

Red tape and local content
The WSS president is well acquainted with the Brazilian market, but in no way startled by the challenges this particular market poses to his company.

 «The challenges aren´t any bigger here than elsewhere. That being said, bureaucracy and fiscal rules make it complicated to operate here. This is however something we have handled for years, and something we can live with. Local content is another challenge for us, who produces and sources products from other locations around the world. In some business areas, we use global business models, on cylinders and life rafts, that are difficult to use in Brazil, so here we saw the need to develop closed systems for the Brazilian market only. When it comes to personnel, local content is no challenge at all, because our organization is very local. If you want to be a global player, you can´t expect everything to work the way we are used to from Norway. All countries pose challenges in their own way, and in countries like China or in the Middle-East, the challenges we meet, are others. In Brazil we know what the rules are», Mr. Grimholt says.

In this manner, Brazil is more predictable, according to Vice-President for Marine Products, Mr. Kjell André Engen.

«Doing business in Brazil is different, and red tape is definitely a challenge, but this is not unique to Brazil. Infrastructure and big distances are other factors we need to tackle, but I prefer to focus on how well WSS is functioning here. All eyes are on Petrobras right now, and the market is in a wait and see modus, but for us, it is business as usual, and there are still a lot of opportunities here», Mr. Engen says.

Cocktail party
On March 23, 2015, Wilhelmsen Ships Service hosted a cocktail for clients and business associates in the Casa Daros in Botafogo.

Wilhelmsen Ships Service is part of Wilhelmsen Maritime Services AS, a Wilh. Wilhelmsen group company. The company is headquartered in Oslo, Norway. The company employs 4500 specialized marine professionals worldwide and  service 2,200 ports in 125 countries, making WSS one of the world’s largest maritime network.

Last year the group made product deliveries to 25,000 vessels and handled 70,000 port calls. On average the company delivers a marine product every 2nd minute, according to the WSS website.


By Runa Hestmann, NBCC journalist