“We grow constantly not only in figures but also in terms of expertise”

Interview with Flemming Sorensen, Managing Director Damen Shipyards Galati.

Damen has been in Romania for 15 years now. What does Damen signify for Galati and what role does it play in Romania’s economy? And what does Galati represent for your company?
Damen Group decided to invest in Romania in 1999 after a period of 6 years of co-operation with the Romanian company. The decisive factors where the high level of labour skills and drive for performance of the organization. Since then, the whole setup of building ships in Galati was changed. The philosophy of focusing on core business and developing sustainable partners specialized on outfitting activities was successfully implemented in the company and the shipbuilding activity started to grow together with the horizontal industry. Being the 2nd main industrial player in the area, Damen is very important for the community, more than 3,000 people working for the shipyard and main suppliers from Galati. On the other hand, the city and its facilities are also important for us, most of our employees being recruited or educated in Galati. Every year we are supporting the schools and various NGOs to provide better community service and develop the abilities of new generations for future career.
What does it mean to be a yard builder in 2014? The global economic crisis made Damen Shipyards Galati to search for other type of construction? Who are the clients at the moment?
The results of Damen Galati show a stable and profitable company, with a consistent portfolio for the years to come. All these positive results were made with continuous efforts to keep our competitiveness in the international market and further develop the organization. The economic crisis had a significant impact in the organization, about half of the capacity was reduced in 2 years. After this difficult period we succeeded to improve our performance and grow constantly not only in figures but also in terms of expertise. This good basis allow us also to shift to a new portfolio where merchant vessels are gone, being replaced by light offshore products and security products. We also succeeded to keep the tugs business in Galati in spite of strong competition from Asia and start new production lines for aluminium, hulls for yachts and ferries.
From your point of view, how do you perceive the development of trade relations between the Netherlands and Romania? Are the Dutch still interested to invest in our country?
Romania is attractive for European companies, it has a growth potential which was not used to the maximum extent. The potential of the new generations which are still attracted by technical jobs and the possibility to develop production entities which will benefit from competitive prices are good basis for further development of trade relations between Romania and the Netherlands. To our opinion in this difficult period Europe learned that is not only important to sell but also to produce in European countries and there are solutions nearby. Romania might be the preferred destination for this outsourcing if stable investing conditions as well as better infrastructure are provided. Less political involved in public administration would also count for raising and strengthening Dutch interests in Romania.

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