In mid-March, Christoffer Berg Lassen received a phone call. On the other end was Keld Demant, CEO of Bunker Holding, the parent company to a series of bunker companies, including Glander International Bunkering, which Berg Lassen had headed since 2013.
Demant asked if he was interested in taking over the job as CEO of Dan-Bunkering.
Even though they have seniority and are among the best-skilled, they are still the first to come in every morning and the last to leave. This DNA needs to be injected into the new, young traders.
The Danish bunker group was working on a new project which then-CEO of Dan-Bunkering, Henrik Zederkof, was to be in charge of. His position was opening up.
Berg Lassen knew that the headquarters in Middelfart was going through major changes, so the question did not come as a huge surprise.
Six weeks later, on May 1, he took office at his new job.
The change happened off the radar with a change in name and picture on the Dan-Bunkering website.
Berg Lassen thus headed home. Perhaps faster than most people. 13 years after starting as a bunker trader at age 20 with the same company, he has now reached the very top.
Suit and shiny shoes
The suits, the freshly shined shoes, and the attraction of business trips are what enticed Berg Lassen to visit Dan-Bunkering in 2004.
When he thought of Danish shipping back then, the obvious choice was Maersk Group. At Dan-Bunkering he could get a similar experience, he thought. Just from a local company.
Berg Lassen describes himself as a classic "Middelfart guy". He was born and raised in the Danish city and holds a degree from a nearby business school. So when Dan-Bunkering opened its doors and needed two trainees, he was ready.
"Here, I could get something similar to Maersk and it was exciting to enter a local business, which was in a fast-paced market where you had to be ready for changes, and you never knew what the day would bring," explains Berg Lassen, reminiscing about the trading floor, when new clients were brought on board, and when the market was moving.
Stationed in Dubai
After four years at the Middelfart office, he was deployed abroad, specifically to Dubai.
Berg Lassen had distinguished himself as a trader after his time as a trainee and he had shown a talent for management.For this reason, he was appointed head of sales in International Bunkering. In 2013, he took over the top job at the same company and one of his first feats was acquiring the US broker Glander. This was the kickoff to re-brand International Bunkering as Glander International Bunkering.
This development at Glander International Bunkering, which is one of many companies under Bunker Holding, is the reason why the Bunker Holding group has now brought Berg Lassen home to head Dan-Bunkering which is one of the group's largest companies.
To date, he still lives in Dubai with his wife and daughter. Over the coming period, he will be traveling his fair share to visit various regional managers of Dan-Bunkering, and the flights from the Arab transfer hub work better for this endeavor than being based in Denmark.
Of course, it would be natural to return home at some point and reacquaint himself with HQ in Middelfart, he says.
The right DNA
Although old age is not yet a problem for the new CEO, he is a fan of old school virtues and recalls a particular Dan-Bunkering DNA which must be passed on the new traders.
It is all about working hard, he says, highlighting two of the most experienced traders from Middelfart who have been involved since the beginning of Dan-Bunkering over 30 years ago.
"Even though they have seniority and are among the best-skilled, they are still the first to come in every morning and the last to leave. This DNA needs to be injected into the new, young traders," says Berg Lassen, who works around 12 hours a day himself.
The industry has changed
And the training of the new generation is alpha omega.
Just as Berg Lassen needs to ensure that Dan-Bunkering adapts to the global situation and is ready to keep up when the oil price, for instance, takes a dramatic dive.
"I think the industry is calling for more quality from bunker traders and a little more in-depth knowledge. We will arrive at 2020 with different sulfur requirements in different places and other requirements for the industry. The young people who we release need to be 100 percent ready to fulfill what our customers are demanding – whether this is knowledge in different parameters, competitive prices, or new financial products."
My own career went relatively fast and is built on me creating positive results and working a huge load of hours.
Another characteristic of the industry, which is reflected in Berg Lassen's own career, is to reward results.
"That's what's wonderful about this industry. My own career went relatively fast and is built on me creating positive results and working a huge load of hours," he says.
English Edit: Gretchen Deverell Pedersen