Headquartered in Dunleer, Ireland, Suretank is the world’s largest manufacturer of cargo-carrying units for the offshore oil and gas industry.
Last featured in European Oil and Gas Magazine in September 2013, the company has seen several important developments over the ensuing seven months, as John Fitzgerald, CEO, explained: “We have taken on several staff, with Philip Murphy taking the brand new position of ‘director of customer care’,” he began. “This is based on the philosophy that happy customers keep on coming back, and therefore we have created a dedicated customer care team with representatives who will manage the whole relationship with clients from first contact to aftersales service.
“In fact, the materialisation of a customer care department is at the vanguard of what we are trying to do as a business and it is at the centre of our strategic plan,” John continued. “Putting the customer at the heart of what we do is a huge theme running through the business and so that appointment, allied to other appointments in the customer care and sales area have been solid evidence of what we are committed to.”
In fact Suretank prides itself on the quality and reliability of its entire service offering to its clients, which extends from a reliable and high quality product through to ensuring the most efficient and effective logistics service. For the latter the business has worked closely with IJS Global for many years. Formed in 2004, IJS Global is a premier global logistics service provider that is dedicated to excellence in service through personalised solutions for its clients. The company, which works closely with its clients to bring significant business advantages and efficiencies through customised solutions provides a range of services such as freight forwarding, logistics, customs services, safety and security, consulting services, and express services.
“In our line of work, where quality and reliability are essential, it is absolutely vital to have a strong and reputable logistics service provider so that we can maintain the high standards that our clients expect, and IJS Global is just that,” explained Martin Winters, operations manager at Suretank. “The services that IJS Global provide mirror the values that Suretank have as a business, which is why we have had such a strong relationship for a number of years.
“Working within the oil and gas industry means that Suretank’s engineered solutions may have to be delivered to difficult or remote locations,” he continued. “IJS takes care of all of our logistics needs, by working out the best routes, timeframes, delivery schedules etc. IJS are excellent at being able to deliver the product to the client when and where they need it.”
Martin was keen to stress: “We work very closely with IJS throughout a project, but usually at the beginning/planning stage, and then at the end stage prior to delivery from our factory. Having this kind of close collaboration means that we are able to take away the hassle of ensuring our product is delivered efficiently and successfully for the client. In the oil and gas industry efficient delivery is essential. The engineered solutions we provide often have very tight deadlines and specific start-up dates. It is vital that our product solutions are on the ground and ready to go when they are supposed to.
“Typical projects can range from a small quantity of five units through to a large quantity of 100 to 200 units, and either way IJS is equally reliable and efficient,” Martin said. “We have various manufacturing sites around the world and on some projects we can be manufacturing from several sites at the same time i.e. in Ireland, the UK and Poland for example. IJS can collect all of the equipment from these sites, bring it to a central location and deliver it in one package to the end user. As we look to grow Suretank’s business in the coming years I have no doubt that with IJS’ track record to date they will be essential to our future.”
Perhaps the most recent development for Suretank [at time of writing] was the opening of a new multi-million euro corporate centre at the Group’s head office in Dunleer, Ireland. Opened with a customer appreciation day, by Ireland’s Minister for Jobs, Enterprise, and Innovation Richard Bruton, the facility marks an important stage in the company’s history. “We are aiming to create a world-class centre of excellence here, to support our vision of being the world’s leading provider of engineered solutions to the offshore oil and gas industry,” explained John.
“The investment in the new building fits within that vision because we have now housed all our engineering, design, product development and R&D teams under one roof, which is the first time that we can say that. Our employees are all highly qualified and are working together on a whole range of customer-led projects. Really we are moving away from just making products, into creating whole engineered solutions that include design, construction, validation and approval, which ultimately culminates in a product offering that has a lot of value added at the front end. This new building allows that to take place.
“Furthermore, for the first time in the company’s history we have put a lot of focus on our marketing approach in order to raise the profile of the business. So we have engaged an external marketing advisor, and we have employed marketing personnel here and their job is both tactical and strategic. Strategic in the sense that we are trying to understand where our markets are going, what the opportunities are, and how we can align ourselves to those opportunities; and tactical in the form of developing higher profile activities for Suretank, through PR, e-marketing, social media and online.”
All of these activities are being performed alongside an active growth strategy, through both organic means and targeted acquisitions. “On the organic side this involves strengthening our sales presence on the ground in places like Brazil and the US, and aligning that to our existing sales presence throughout Europe and Asia,” John noted. “On the M&A side we have been actively seeking out acquisition opportunities throughout the globe to extend both our geographical reach and our product offering. We currently have a number of exciting discussions underway, which will lead to new entrants to the Suretank family over the coming months. The intention is that the acquired businesses will fit under the Suretank branding and we will use our existing customer relationships to leverage our positions there.”
This M&A activity is supported by Suretank’s majority shareholder HitecVision. “They have proven to be a very proactive and supportive investor, who are willing to promote and canvas M&A opportunities for Suretank through their own global network,” said John. “They have introduced a number of acquisition candidates to us, and are very supportive in our evaluations of those candidates and in putting a potential deal together. They have also brought a great discipline to our business through their ‘plan to work, work to plan’ attitude, and at their behest we have created what we call ‘Suretank 2018’, a strategic plan that sets out the road map for our business over the next five years.”
He continued: “Suretank 2018 calls for us to treble the size of this business over the course of the next four to five years and that is not an option, it is a requirement. This will be achieved by both organic and acquisition led growth, which are two of our central pillars going forward.
“Looking more short-term, in 2014, we will be continuing to invest in customer care and sales and marketing, and developing our presence on the ground in new locations. My vision is that wherever there is offshore oil and gas being drilled you will find Suretank – we will be there alongside our clients supporting their requirements by having our feet on the ground beside them, not managing them from miles away. We are very dedicated to supporting and assisting clients in whatever way we can, and we will continue to develop and expand on that by unrelenting attention to customer care and creating the right product solutions. We are a real market and product specialist and the leader in our field and so our focus is on further increasing our visibility and brand recognition and expanding our global footprint.”
Services: Provides engineered solutions to the offshore oil and gas industry