John Dahle Skipshandel AS

Raising the bar

Established over 90 years ago, John Dahle Skipshandel AS is a highly reputable supplier of lifting, fall protection, and marine equipment.

The company employs 22 people at its base in Tananger, Norway, and has enjoyed particularly strong growth in the past decade, with this year’s sales figures likely to exceed 72 million NOK.

John Dahle Skipshandel has worked to establish itself across an array of market sectors, and its range of prestigious clients includes Subsea 7, Acergy, and Oceaneering. The company also has a frame contract delivering lifting equipment to approximately 50 retail outlets, many of which also work with the offshore sector.

“We want to be perceived as a pioneer amongst both employees and within the market generally,” says managing director Jan Christian Bernhardt. “We hope to be the most sought after supplier to our target customers, and have been growing at a very good, but controlled, pace. The sales increase has certainly been tremendous, but we have always maintained focus on the quality of our products.”

John Dahle Skipshandel has progressed through several generations of the same family, and, amongst all of the reasons for the company’s success, Jan singles out the abilities of its chairman as a key factor: “John Dahle is a man of real competence, and an authority in the field of lifting equipment. He also has two sons within the company, and it is a privilege as managing director, to work with a family who possess such knowledge of the industry. In addition, it is an important success factor, because the chairman of the board is here on a daily basis, so the decision-making process is much easier.

“More generally, there is a very high level of competence amongst our employees. We do not have a high staff turnover, because people enjoy working with us, and each year we sit down as a team to discuss our plans. For example, we speak about the number of social events that we will have, and it is important to make sure thateveryone is satisfied with this, because our people work very hard.”

As mentioned, the company works predominantly for the Norwegian market, in three broad areas: lifting equipment, which incorporates both the sale of well-known brands, and assembly of new products; fall protection equipment, where the company sells new products, and undertakes yearly inspection and control repair; and marine equipment, within which the business aims, by the end of 2009, to be the biggest supplier of technical consumption articles for vessels entering its country.

Within these sectors, the company divides its products into 14 groups, including steel wire rope and accessories; lifting and beam clamps; industrial hardware; and personal protective equipment. It also distributes and mounts fall arrest systems, and owns a training rig, on which one or two-day courses are offered. There, clients are provided with instructions relating to legislation, standards for the equipment, risk alleviation methods, and advice on the practical use of fall protection equipment. The company is also one of the two biggest inspectors of such equipment in Europe, undertaking work for companies around the world.

John Dahle Skipshandel works against strong competition, but Jan sees certain benefits in this: “We welcome having a competitor working with our client, because it keeps us sharp as a company, and encourages us to focus on giving the best service that we can. It is possible that, in the future, there will be more fusions within the industry, and larger European companies will purchase smaller Norwegian businesses. Of course this will be a challenge to us, but it is very exciting, because it will force us to continuously monitor and analyse our strategies.”

Working to keep ahead of its challengers, Jan explains John Dahle Skipshandel’s clear quality policy: “There are eight key guiding points that are fundamental to our success: none of our work should endanger company employees, all work should instil joy in our people, our products must be entirely safe for our clients, our equipment should be seen as fault-free and high-quality, we should always deliver on time, we should be easily contactable, we must give competent and clear answers to our clients, and, finally, we must behave in an ethically correct manner.”

It promises to be a very exciting year ahead for the company, as for the first time in decades it is launching a product catalogue. “There is a very heavy demand for our equipment and services at the moment, and this is only going to increase with the new catalogue,” says Jan. “We have been working on this catalogue intensively for two and a half years. It is approximately 350 pages long, it contains a huge amount of information, and I’m afraid we may have an explosion in sales when it is released! I am, however, proud to be part of a team that can meet these challenges.”

John Dahle Skipshandel AS

Products Lifting, fall protection, and marine equipment