We are pleased to share the interview of Hans Olav Henriksen in Tschudi Marines Services by the Norwegian newspaper Framtid i Nord (27.10.2023)
This is how Hans Olav (46) will further develop business – we aim to be a hub of services.
But there is one particular focus area he is determined to part of.
Tschudi Marine Services AS, renamed from Boreal Offshore AS last fall, has spent the past year getting back on track.
The organizational structure has been revamped, and the company is now exploring new tasks and future partners.
This informs, General Manager Hans Olav Henriksen (46), who commutes weekly from Tromsø to Skjervøy.
A hub of services
Already the company is quite diversified. In their workshop, Estonian Toomas Horn is extending a loop line for the local fish receiving station.
The machine that cuts and guts fish is custom-made and designed by the company itself.
The word "niche" might be the best way to describe us. We do a lot of “one off” which is also a part of the Corporate's approach. We aim to be a hub of services, where we either utilize what we can do internally, use services from within the Group, or collaborate with external partners. This way, the customer gets a more seamless delivery of their product.
The services they provide are primarily targeted towards the fisheries and aquaculture industry in the region. Here, they can both design, repair, and make products.
“Right now, we are working on two more projects, and we are starting to have more customer drop-ins. In September construction machinery repairs were actually the most frequent tasks. We take on this type of work when we get the chance" he comments.
Our 46-year-old has not lived in Skjervøy since the mid-90’s. But when he was suddenly asked if he wanted to further develop the company, part of the family-owned shipping company to Felix H. Tschudi, he couldn’t refuse. He soon realised that the company's values were similar to his own.
“Being able to go home and build something up in Skjervøy, together with a warm welcome and a supportive team behind I simply thought, this is cool. This offer came up unexpectedly, but after some consideration, nothing could have been better. After that it was just “Let’s go”!” he comments further.
The Caribbean and Africa
For more than 25 years, Henriksen has worked worldwide, holding positions such as Chief Officer and Captain.
He has worked on cruise ships in the Caribbean, the offshore industry including India, and from construction vessels off the coast of West Africa.
In the last six years, he worked as HR Manager at Hurtigruten, where he was responsible for up to 3200employees.
“It feels good to be back in Skjervøy, not just for a visit, but to create something. That's the biggest motivation. But it's also about small things, like going grocery shopping after work, where you meet the same people you might have discussed business with earlier in the day. It's a small community and a completely different way of doing business than I'm used to."
Here it only takes a handshake and then you are ready to do the job, laughs Henriksen.
I like to be active and not just sit in front of a PC. Just before you came, I was uploading sheets of iron from the German battleship Tirpitz to be cut for a customer to recycle. I can have days when I come to the office and in another context calculate contracts worth millions and then I go to scanning out an invoice for NOK 16 for a couple of bolts, he chuckles.
New industry– we will be there
As well has having acquired 3-4 suppliers and partners in Skjervøy, the company is also considering a large-scale production.
Of course, it has to be “bread and butter” business comments Henriksen further.
We are considering some sort of series production and are spending a lot of time discussing what this could be with both suppliers and customers needing equipment. We are looking to produce something locally for the seafood industry, something which is currently bought further south or from abroad.
They could also be acquiring more land just behind the current work hall.
“Here we are planning another hall of 1000 m2” comments Henriksen.
There is however one focus area which stands out – Henriksen is very clear that they wish to play a role in the cultivation and harvesting of seaweed.
“We have not made any definite decisions yet, but we will be there. In my opinion, seaweed and kelp farming is an exciting development and one of the most important things Norway should focus on in the coming years” says Henriksen.
He mentions sustainable food production as an obvious reason but believes seaweed farming can provide better growth conditions and perhaps food for farmed salmon. CO2 capture in the open sea could be another alternative.
To gain more knowledge, the company has become members of several related forums.
“We are not afraid to think big –maybe we can take this from A-Z” says Henriksen.
You mean having your own factory in Skjervøy?
“Absolutely, it would be based in Skjervøy but alternatives could be Honningsvåg and Kirkenes where we also are located. What is so fantastic in the north is the light which makes seaweed grow much faster here than in the south. This allows us to have an even more sustainable production” he says.
The Needs Are Greater Today
One area of concern is the future recruitment of personnel.
Currently, the company has three employees. However, with the increased production they hope for, the workforce could quickly expand to over 12 people.
"At the moment, we are looking for people locally, but it's very difficult to find the required expertise. The entire region is struggling with this. The immediate need has been for welders but fortunately we have an inhouse company, recruiting from other countries in Europe, so I was able to get a welder quickly here. If I need five of them, I can get that too," he says.
He adds that he would prefer to hire local people.
"The next thing we need is a proper mechanic, but I am more confident that we can find someone here."
He reminisces about his up bringing in Skjervøy, with three shipyards and attractive workplaces for plate workers, mechanics, and welders, providing specific education programs.
"The paradox is that there are even greater needs today. I've worked extensively with recruitment in my previous jobs and am fully aware of how this is conducted in our county. They're always too slow. We need the expertise we used to have, and we need it today."
Regarding this, Hans Olav believes that the current establishment of the Moen shipyard in Skjervøy and opportunities arising will encourage people to stay in the region.
"With increased activity, there is a definite need for a shipyard like this. We see Moen as an opportunity and hope, like others in Skjervøy, that we can become a supplier. It will be very exciting when this happens - the region needs a concept likes this and the technology it brings" concludes Henriksen.
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