How I Work: Tommy Olofsen

Times are a’changing in the shipmanagement sector that’s for sure, with greater reliance on digitalisation and the way the stakeholders repackage their services high on individual company agendas. The only problem is that when one company announces a new initiative, it seems it is repeated throughout the industry, albeit with a different spin or title.

Tommy Olofsen, Chief Commercial Officer of OSM Maritime Group, has the look and air of someone steeped in shipmanagement. With his sleeves rolled up, he tackles the question of industry transformation and change with gusto and passion, claiming it is no longer all about being a ship manager or a crew manager but about being a maritime service provider.

“So, it is not just about being a technical manager or not, but service delivery on areas such as drydock management, newbuild consultancy, procurement etc.

“That being said, over the last four years we have strengthened our competencies in the full technical management sector; we are focused on that growth especially in the offshore, tanker and dry sectors and believe we have scale, strong competencies and a global footprint,” he said.

With a fully technically managed fleet of 140 vessels and an overall fleet of 500 ships, including crew managed, OSM is putting its money where its mouth is. But as he claims, OSM is looking outside the box when it comes to the services it is offering its clients. “We have established a new company called OSERV which concentrates on supplying all our technical services, whether this is flag registry or support on other things. It is about how we deliver the services and we are thinking more in the eco-agenda.”

Using Amazon as a business platform, Mr Olofsen said the same thinking should be developed for shipping. “We are on the verge of launching a whole new procurement platform that is open to the market where we are putting forward the best contracts, the best pricing and products and the best financing options for the owner, or whoever wants to buy. But the dialogue is directly with the vendor. There are no hidden layers,” he added.

But with only 18%-20% of the shipowning market using third party managers, where does the scope lie for greater business volume? “Some of the untapped market sits with legacy owners who are very traditional in the way they manage their ships and their businesses. You need to understand that anyone outsourcing the technical management of their ships is embarking on a major decision-making process. We need to make this a business logic, trust logic and strategic logic choice rather than just providing a service. It is about moving from being a business services provider to being an advisor, to being part of that decision-making process and supporting that development. I don’t see us being receptive to just delivering a service, but being a facilitator in creating a new future.”

When you talk to the 80% of owners who don’t use third party managers, what are they saying to you?

“It is not about giving away anything, but about sharing, developing and finding stronger and better solutions. If we continue the way we have been continuing as an industry, and do what we have always done, we might grow 1% or 2%. But we have to do it differently and whatever we do has to be attractive to the market. Right now in Greece, we see small owners still wanting to keep the management of their ships in-house but it is about being seen facilitating that business logic and it is about creating something that they don’t create. Quality is changing and in the future quality will ask questions like ‘how do you fit into the supply chain’ and tick the big ticket items like environment and new legislation. Companies like ours, which are privately owned, have something to offer,” he concluded.