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, including new appointments, the opening of a modern corporate centre and the launch of a five-year strategic plan.
The magazine spoke to John Fitzgerald, CEO, to get a full update on the company’s recent activities: “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 addition, Suretank has been working on product development, product portfolio management and engineering solutions through its research and development (R&D) team. Said John: “We have a dedicated R&D group that exclusively works on product development and we actively use the ‘stage gauged’ process to manage innovation and product development. Through this we have created, commercialised and launched new products such as reefers (refrigerated containers), A60s (fire and explosion rated containers) and heated mud skips.”
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. Again the new facilities allow those people to sit together in a dedicated area to promote and drive the market visibility and recognition of our business forward.”
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