Can you imagine shipping a wind turbine overseas? Heavy lift company Thorco Projects doesn’t just imagine it, they do it every day.
It’s a tough time for the shipping market. Organizations that were “too big to fail” have failed, brought down by a global slump and a surplus of vessels at the wrong time. Some would even say the maritime industry is the worst it’s ever been.
Thankfully, there are a handful of companies that have not only weathered the storm, but had enough foresight to plan for the slump and are still able to thrive despite the market. Thorco Projects is one such company.
Thorco Projects is a Danish company that has extensive experience in cargo handling ranging from ship owning and commercial ship management to time-charter operations, ship brokering, and custom transport services. It’s bullish in the strategic approach in its market niche, despite bearish tendencies of the segment as of late.
Before the year’s end, Thorco Projects repositioned itself in the marketplace once more to be ready for the anticipated uptick in late 2017-2018 projections in projects, and finalized a joint venture with United Heavy Lift.
This enabled the group to include heavy lift vessels geared up to 800 tons and deck carriers able to load ultra-large cargoes in the fleet. Thorco Projects is destined to be a leader in the projects arena as the market improves.
“The heavy lift market has also come on bad times,” shared Brent Berg, Managing Director and Partner at Thorco Projects. “Thorco Shipping has an extensive network worldwide and in-depth market knowledge; UHL could definitely benefit from this. It was an opportune time and UHL is now under the vast Thornico umbrella of companies under the Thorco Projects name.”
It’s an incredibly challenging market, but Thorco Projects brings the best in the industry into the market place: naval engineers to port captains, projects experience, and a capable fleet.
Thorco Projects aims to show that even in a downturn, successful and quality heavy lift deliveries are not just possible, but a promise.
It’s a promise that companies like Chevron, Exxon, Shell, and other oil and gas companies have gladly accepted. GE, too, is a big customer of Thorco Projects.
Thorco Projects ships generators weighing up to 350 metric tons. The company also ships GE’s windmills and HRSGs.
Each delivery for GE is specialized and requires different vessels. Windmills, for example, need open decks and long holds for the tower sections: much longer hold lengths customarily required for other cargoes and required by other companies.
“That’s what makes us [Thorco] different from others in this industry: there’s no customer too big or too small for us to work with. We’re not trying to be your vendor: we want to be your ongoing service partner.
“Customers that our competitors thought were too small for their business have now become our big customers. We want to be a part of our customer’s growth.”
Evolving Company Culture
Internal growth is also primary for the company. In an industry where employee retention is fairly low, and generational gaps are creating interesting problems, Thorco Projects has some unique solutions.
“When I came out of the maritime academy in Maine, I went to work on the docks like my peers. It was not glamorous and had a lot of challenges but it was necessary for getting me where I am today. I learned to deal with cargo, labor unions, I learned how to do many hands-on things, and acquired many other practical and leadership skills. I’ve grown through different avenues to get to where I am now.
“But the next generation to come out of schools don’t want to work on the docks, and I get it, but it’s necessary. I’ve gone to speak at Texas A&M for the maritime transportation classes and I tell them that it’s a great industry, good for people who want to benefit from globalization and see the world, but you have to start at the bottom to learn.”
To help combat this issue within Thorco, Berg and other leaders are reigniting the company culture, offering a metaphorical olive branch to students.
“We’re putting out our hand to the next generation and letting them know that we want them here, and we’ll teach them what they need to know.
The biggest benefit to Thorco’s culture is that the business is a part of the Thornico family of companies. With several different ventures in many different industries, Thornico—with its father-and-son leadership team—sets a great example of what the company calls “company karma.”
The KARMA program is about Thornico and its subsidiaries committing to act as global citizens.
Thorco Projects designated MV Thorco Africa to donate €22,500 each year to the Danish Red Cross. Thornico also has a strong presence in offering aid in Sierra Leone, with charity efforts sponsoring the women’s soccer team in Afghanistan which is spear headed by Hummel, a company of Thornico.
Further to a new division called Thorco Bulk, there are other avenues on hand that Thorco is studying to expand in the future. Currently, with the market being as down as it is, Berg shared that the company is “hanging tight” to see what companies make it through.
“We are asking ourselves what do we need today, in five years, in ten? By examining how other companies handle the downturn, it’ll allow us to get the right ship at the right time, either from the right competitor or the right ship yard.”
Thorco Projects holds one of the world’s largest project fleets, with heavy lift vessels geared up to 800 tons and deck carriers able to load ultra-large cargoes.
Our large fleet as well as the diversity of our vessels creates a flexibility which enables us to handle just about any type of commodity, from bulk cargoes to over-dimensional heavy lift modules; we can load any type of breakbulk cargo and deliver parcels anywhere in the world, at any time.
The core value of our services is our people. We have a worldwide team of chartering experts and technical engineers who have years of experience in developing transport and engineering solutions to match the needs of our clients.
In Thorco Projects, we offer a full range of services as we discern the nuances of our client’s every need and we strive for the highest quality, safety and ultimately the best solutions. Our clients range from global Fortune 500 companies to local and privately owned companies.
We value and endeavor to build long-term relationships with our clients, our employees and all of our stakeholders.
Facing every day with the same vigor, drive and high level of professionalism, Thorco Projects strives to be a global market leader and to be the preferred carrier of choice of our clients.
We are dynamic and flexible in the way we do business—from structuring our fleet and our offices, we have built a streamlined work flow to allow for timely and agile solutions which is part and parcel of project shipping. Thorco Projects is designed for functionality, a flat organization structured to link ideas to execution in a short period of time.
Our goal is to maintain this dynamic way of doing business, which is not only crucial when delivering the best service and highest standards, but also to maintain and encourage ownership and motivation among our employees in their participation of our client’s work.