Offering a range of port agency and port related services to those in the dry cargo, offshore and oil and gas industries, GAC Shipping is highly involved in playing a supportive role to the diverse and demanding fields of power generation and automotive fuels.
A great deal of business comes from the ongoing service of vessels trading in the tanker and dry cargo markets, while a recent area for the company is supporting the construction and installation industry for offshore wind turbines. Previously known as OBC Shipping, the organisation is rebranding to be more clearly recognised as part of the international GAC group and at the start of 2010 will be trading as GAC Shipping (UK) Ltd.
“OBC Shipping Ltd was founded in 1979 in Teesside,” Peter Cole managing director of GAC Shipping (UK) Ltd explains. “The company grew by partnering and merging with other interests throughout the UK until it became a company represented across all UK ports. Spurred on by the backing of our key clients we then went on to expand into Rotterdam, Holland and the US Gulf and became a significant operator in these regions. We have continued to evolve throughout the years in conjunction with expansion opportunities and client’s demands, which tend to look to international rather than just regional representation. As a result of this need to offer a worldwide service network the board of OBC Shipping Ltd took the decision to offer the company to a global shareholder, which is where GAC came in. We are now trading as GAC Shipping (UK) Ltd, GAC Logistics (UK) Ltd and GAC Travel Ltd, representing the UK arm of the GAC Group.
The ever-changing energy market has been at the root of the company’s latest developments. As the energy industry has changed over the years from UK coal to imported coal and bio-mass, and the oils industry has added bio-fuels, GAC Shipping’s operations have followed suit. Greener fuels including bio-diesel and bio-ethanol are the latest movements in this area, whilst the growth of LNG (liquid natural gas) has seen the company focussing in supporting the development of four terminal facilities in the UK for the reception of LNG vessels.
Wind energy is an additional development, as Peter outlines: “Wind farms are an increasing area of business for us with farms taking up to 100 turbines at a time that all need constructing and transporting. Whether it is onshore, offshore or on the mudflats of the UK, turbines and propellers are delivered by land before being transporting loaded onto construction vessels to be taken onsite and this is where our expertise comes in. Most recently we have been involved in the Kentish Flats wind farm, which is typical of the kind of support contract we carry out in this area. We often find that new wind farms are being serviced by ports such as Ramsgate or Harwich that don’t have offshore construction industry infrastructure, meaning that it is our job to assist the local port infrastructure to deliver a base for loading turbine components for successful construction.”
GAC Shipping’s flexibility can be pinpointed as its core strength. It is a complete package provider that offers a diverse range of services to an increasing number of major clients. From shipping to logistics, business travel to agency work, GAC Shipping has all bases covered. “We provide a hands-on environment with the utmost involvement in all aspects of operation. We make sure that we are onsite where all movements are taking place to keep a close eye on operations, reducing the margin for error,” Hans Barto, IT director highlights. “Our latest technology also ensures that we have constant and open communication between staff and customers, utilising 3D and Real Time information tools. This has been a focal point for us throughout 2009 and we have put a great deal of effort into establishing a situation where we can contact anyone, at any point in time and customers can benefit from a constant interface with the company, ensuring we are meeting their requirements and needs throughout the production process.” GAC is now able to provide a stream of feedback directly from those on the ground to those managing a project, bringing added value to its services.
Despite the global economic crisis, which has seen a considerable volume downturn; GAC has been buoyed up by its range of business areas. In order to address any challenges, the company has become more mobile and many staff have been moved from one UK port to another or elsewhere in the world to service our clients business. The Teesside area, for example, was the hardest hit and many of its employees have been moved to participate in other UK projects. Indeed the involvement of the GAC Group has greatly aided the longevity of the company’s operations, bringing financial stability and a wider network of ports and colleagues to exploit.
“The wind farm market has certainly been the newest and fastest growing area for us and I predict that bio-energy will play a big part in operations in the coming months. For the future our core aim is to achieve a greater balance in our services and I have hopes that the logistics side will grow to the same level as shipping. We also have a target to obtain more overseas interests and I feel this is highly achievable considering the flexibility and knowledge that we offer,” Peter concludes
Services: Port agency and services