Before the interview itself begins, Alan Bradley hands over his business card, which features not only Svitzer’s logo but also the familiar, seven-pointed star encircled by the equally famous light blue color.
"The Maersk brand is well known here in Asia – and well respected. The Svitzer brand is not that well known yet, so the fact that we’re part of the Maersk Group plays a big part in terms of going out there to conquer the market,2 explains Alan Bradley, Regional Managing Director, Asia, who has been with Svitzer and its antecedents since 1992, most recently serving as CCO in Australia.
As recently appointed Managing Director of the just as recently established Asia region, 52-year-old Bradley plays a key part in the towage company’s new strategy, as previously reported by ShippingWatch.
From working with a traditional focus on the established markets in Europe and Australia, the company has now turned its attention to the Middle East, Africa and Asia – the latter of which stretches from Bangladesh in the east to Japan in the west, Russia in the north to Indonesia in the south.
"For Svitzer this is a small region, but in terms of growth potential, this region is quite significant. There are many countries out here in which there are solid possibilities of launching operations," he explains, adding that the region, according to Svitzer’s calculations, holds a combined market value of USD 2 billion.
"Adding more resources and increasing the focus will enable us to realize some of this potential."
Essential to create a profile
But the towage market is not used to major, global companies. The towage jobs are often performed by small companies, sometimes “mom and dad” businesses, as Bradley puts it. So even though Svitzer is one of the by far biggest players in the segment, the global market as a whole is so fragmented that Svitzer’s market share only stands at a few percent.
Here in Asia, Bradley has not even attempted to calculate the market share, even though Svitzer already has existing business in East Timor, China and Russia, and has recently signed contracts in China.
"Our biggest challenge is that we’re headed into a region where many don’t know us or what Svitzer stands for. As such, we face a big task in terms of creating a profile. We’ll be using a lot of energy on communicating and working closely with the other stakeholders in the business. With a highly fragmented market and with major geographical and cultural differences, creating a profile will be absolutely essential."
In the process of reaching out to potential new clients and presenting the Svitzer profile, Alan Bradley is planning to use the six-pointed star to get in contact with those ports that other Maersk divisions already work with:
"Where possible, we’re going to draw on the collaborations that already exist. Then I’m going to look at the relations that other players in the group have established and use these to be introduced to the right people."
"It will still be my job to sell Svitzer’s expertise and create trust in the products we offer," he says, adding:
"We stand for efficiency and safety – and then we have the edge, in terms of most competitors, that we operate in more than 100 different ports under many different conditions. The others many not have this breadth of experience."
Goals not set in numbers, yet
The precise scope of Svitzer’s ambitions in Asia have not been converted into numbers – yet. And the same applies to the number of people required to get the job done. So far Bradley has hired three new employees, bringing his direct staff to 22.
"The number of employees is closely tied to how successful the pipeline. We’ll be looking at the need as we sign contracts. So I’ll be disappointed if we don’t hire more people in the time to come."
Bradley and his team are currently exploring the individual countries and expanding the portfolio for the region. And even though no specific growth target has been set at this time, he does not hide the fact that his own ambitions come with double-digits:
"Focus in Asia centers on one thing – growth. I would like to see growth in this region featured among the highest in Svitzer – and this will mean doubling the business within the coming years."