Due to the growth ambitions on the North and South American market, Wagenborg shipping north america inc. (WSNA) recently moved to a larger office in Montréal.
Wagenborg has been active in the shipping industry for over a century. Initially confined to the Baltic Sea and the North Sea, Wagenborg has gradually expanded its navigation areas. For example, to the continent of America. Nowadays the Wagenborg vessels are sailing regularly between Europe and the St. Lawrence Seaway and the many ports around the Great Lakes with cargoes varying from 6.000 – 16.000 tonnes. From Europe mostly steel, break bulk, furtilizers and project cargo is shipped to the main ports, such as Chicago, Detroit, Hamilton, Thunder Bay and Duluth. Outbound to Europe mostly grain is being shipped.
But this has not always been the case. It was not until 1995 that our first transatlantic journey started out from Amsterdam. It was a major milestone. Wagenborg has remained in this region ever since and even opened its own office in Montreal, Canada, in 2003. It’s therefore high time that we introduced Wagenborg Shipping North America Inc.! Marco Renzelli, Managing Director of this shipping office, talks about the challenges of the American market and his vision for Wagenborg Shipping North America Inc.
“My favorite Wagenborg ship is definitely the m.v. Orangeborg. This is a unique vessel in our fleet and probably the most challenging because the vessel is completely designed for shipping paper.”
Marco, would you like to briefly introduce yourself?
“Before I joined Wagenborg, I worked for the Marine Department at Abitibi Consolidated Inc., where I was responsible for shipping 2 million tonnes of newsprint around the world. As a result of a contract to ship 60,000 metric tonnes of newsprint from St Lawrence to Turkey, I was in close contact with Hans Kroon of the Wagenborg office in Montreal. My experience of Wagenborg was very positive and I was very impressed with the reliability and professionalism of the Wagenborg ships and crews. I also had the idea that Wagenborg was particularly interested in developing a long-term relationship with industry in North America. My interest had been aroused: I joined Wagenborg Shipping North America Inc. in January 2007.”
And what are you doing now?
“As Wagenborg Shipping North America Inc., we serve major customers on the continent of North America and act as Wagenborg’s eyes and ears in this region. I’m continually trying to identify new opportunities with new and existing American customers. We are also engaged in chartering our ships, optimising shipping schedules, bunkering locations and all other aspects of the day-to-day operation of a ship.”
How does your work relate to the office in Delfzijl (Netherlands)?
“Wagenborg Shipping North America Inc. (WSNA) is an extension of the Chartering and Operations Department at our head office in Delfzijl. Because of the different time zones in which Delfzijl and Montreal work, and our close cooperation, we are able to provide continuous operational support for our ships and customers for a longer part of the day, thereby consolidating our reputation in this region."
How well known is Wagenborg actually in America?
“From the outset, Wagenborg has focused on St. Lawrence, the Great Lakes, the east coast of North America and the Gulf of Mexico. In recent years, we have placed greater emphasis on South America and that is beginning to bear fruit. Over the past seven years, Wagenborg has visited many ports on the north coast of South America, the Caribbean islands and even the west coast of South America. Bringing Regis Gama on board has certainly helped us to achieve this. Regis comes from Brazil and has been essential in enabling us to get to know the South American market. We are fully confident that our current methods will allow us to penetrate further into this market.”
How would you characterise your working methods?
“Integrity and respect! Together with our customers and suppliers, we want to address and resolve logistical challenges as honestly as possible. We regard ourselves as more than just “the shipping company”: we are really trying to understand industry’s needs. Of course, we always try to include the Wagenborg product in any logistics solution. Our customers describe this way of working as a “genuine partnership” and tend to regard us as part of their own logistics chain.”
Looking back, what was the most memorable moment of your Wagenborg career?
“The most memorable moment for me dates from 2009 during the Delfsail event in Delfzijl. It was a glorious sunny summer’s day with clear blue skies when m.v. Beatrix was named by Her Majesty Queen Beatrix. All those present appreciated Wagenborg’s efforts and felt welcome. This was a proud day on which to be associated with this wonderful company.”
Looking forward, can you tell us something about what we can expect over the next few months?
“Over the coming months, we expect a number of good opportunities to expand our trade to and from South America. We remain confident of maintaining the tonnage of our ships for the Great Lakes as a result of the trust placed in us by the market. If we look at the main markets we serve – forest products, metals and cereals – we can say with pride that the market leaders in these sectors feature in our customer portfolio. And why? These companies are serious about working with good, sound partners and regard Wagenborg as just that: ‘a good, reliable partner.’”
Is there anything that we haven’t discussed yet?
“We moved to a bigger office in April so as to be better able to pursue our growth strategy in America. A large number of the sailing days of Wagenborg A, T, V, F and E type vessels are logged in the North and South American markets. Wagenborg’s presence has grown significantly in many regions of North America and, with effective cooperation between all staff and management, we will endeavour to maintain this growth.
Some 180 Wagenborg vessels arrive in North America each year, visiting about 500 different ports. That means about 15 ships per month, with at least one Wagenborg ship loading or unloading at a North American port every day. Sixty percent of our trade is in the St Lawrence Seaway and the Great Lakes, with the other 40% being distributed between the Gulf of Mexico, the east coast of the US, and South America.