It might look like Lars Rosenkrands accepted a daunting task back in mid-September when it was announced that he would take over as CEO of Norwegian supply company EMS Seven Seas, effective immediately.
Ahead of the CEO switch, the company - and not least its employees - had been through a more or less turbulent period stretching back several years, but which really picked up speed with the firing of CEO Morten Persen back in November 2013. The company has spent years struggling with poor results, and the new CEO Toril Eidesvik was charged with getting the company back on track. She was appointed permanent CEO in April this year after heading the company since Morten Persen's departure.
As ShippingWatch has previously reported, Eidesvik worked on a corporate restructuring process ahead of the summer, when US-based Supreme Group suddenly swooped in with an offer to buy the company. Yes please, said the five major shareholders - a development that, according to ShippingWatch's sources, made the employees nervous, not least due to Supreme Group's history of serving as supplier to the US army. On June 23rd the new owner had become a reality, and a few months later Toril Eidesvik was no longer CEO.
Now Lars Rosenkrands will have to secure peace among employees and drive the Norwegian company forward. He speaks about his ambitions in an interview with ShippingWatch.
"Our ambition is to be the preferred supplier in the industry," he says, pointing to three areas that will help realize this ambition:
Service, compliance and convenience for clients.
"We are planning to introduce customer service values that transcend everything we do, combined with a broader suite of products and services in all locations. In terms of compliance, this is on top of our agenda across the group, which include mandatory training programs and very strict policies. With reference to convenience, we plan to expand our geographical footprint, particularly in Asia, Africa and the Americas," says Lars Rosenkrands, who has a background in carriers such as Maersk, J. Lauritzen and Norwegian Wilhelmsen Ship Services.
Sold company to Supreme
He was not really looking for a new job when he was contacted by Supreme Group in August. He had just established his own company, Wave Shipping, a service company based in Singapore, and he was looking for an investor.
"I was persuaded to attend an introductory meeting and there I realized the obvious synergies between the port agency services offered by Wave and the ship supply solutions of EMS Seven Seas," he explains in an email, in which he also points to Supreme's financial commitment to ensure that EMS Seven Seas makes a significant mark in the industry.
After a long line of meetings Supreme made an offer on Wave Shipping and offered Lars Rosenkrands the job as CEO of EMS Seven Seas. As one of the world's biggest supply companies, he had followed EMS Seven Seas for many years, and it did not take long for him to accept the job.
According to Lars Rosenkrands, the culture shift at EMS Seven Seas following the acquisition by Supreme Group represents one of the biggest challenges at this time. What he specifically means by culture shift is not made wholly clear, but "a lot of resources" are currently being invested in EMS Seven Seas in order to achieve this goal.
He has been traveling extensively in recent months to visit the various offices around the world and to meet the employees who, according to Rosenkrands, are looking for direction and plans for the company.
And this will come, he says. But as ShippingWatch has previously reported, many employees have been nervous about the new owners, the acquisition, and they have been puzzled about why Toril Eidesvik's restructuring work was not completed. Others have pointed to concerns that values such as transparency between management and employees would be lost in an American culture of top-down management.
How will you handle this nervousness among employees?
"It is normal for the employees of any company that gets acquired to have uncertainty and doubts that need to be addressed. I have been given autonomy to set the values that we, as EMS Seven Seas, want to deliver to employees and clients," he says.
And Lars Rosenkrands is open to dialog and feedback if any doubts persist.
How will you make sure that everyone feels alright in the integration process?
"By ensuring open and regular two way communication with the team; continuing to travel to meet the team; promote open door policies; and continuous reassurance of our goals, ambitions and intentions."