Zeaborn is very serious when it says “mean and lean”. There is enough of fat that can be cut off to save on costs. Stylish Head Offices, just to mention one. “We can deliver ship management spending half the money,” the management tells ShippingWatch.
Shipping has suffered from inefficiency over the last years, ask the dual management team of German Zeaborn, which besides from operating a growing fleet of multi-purpo
se vessels entered “technical ship management of container vessels” earlier this year. Clearly, it would be wrong to state that overstaffed organizations located on the most expensive addresses in hubs like Hamburg or Singapore are the very reason why the shipping industry has been going through very rough times the last five to eight years. Costs in general have been much too high, while Quality and Transparency are lacking, says Ove Meyer, one of the founding partners of Zeaborn to ShippingWatch.
“If one looks at the office spaces, it is not incorrect to state that the shipping companies wanted to be attractive like anybody else. High-class headquarters and often high wages. However, the business model must be attuned with today’s markets. Our motto is not necessarily to be beautiful or to be stars, but just to earn money,” he explains in an interview with ShippingWatch. Zeaborn has opted to run its shipping group from an office location in Bremen, which happens to be next to majority owner Kurt Zech’s residence, more than an hour away from Hamburg’s iconic water front office which houses some of Germany’s historic maritime companies. “A company like Rickmers has been a lot of windows dressing. In the old shipping companies, you should have a Harvard degree. Much of this has led to 10 or 15 years of inefficiency in the industry,” supplements partner and managing director Jan-Hendrik Többe.
Beginning of February, Zeaborn acquired E.R. Schiffahrt, and with the acquisition the company significantly strengthened its forces within both MPP and the container sector. Zeaborn has taken over the entire company, including management, employees and subsidiaries, among these brokerage firm Harper Petersen & Co. With the deal including the management of 61 container vessels and 20 dry cargo ships, Zeaborn has doubled its fleet of ships operated by the company. Last year, a consortium won the bidding war for insolvent Rickmers Group’s ship management unit, including activities in Hamburg, Singapore, and Cyprus. Today, 45 multi-purpose vessels and 160 container ships are under Zeaborn’s ship management which has put the company on the global Top-10 ranking list. Zeaborn is convinced it can do a lot better and a lot cheaper than the traditional companies of the ship management industry. “Today, many companies still assign 2,5 to 3 staff members per customer. We expect to be able to deliver a service on a much higher level with the allocation of close to one person,” says Ove Meyer.
Growth into the tankers sector could be one of the new options to be explored. Another opportunity would be to take part in a consolidation of the ship management industry which only has seen select takeovers. Overall, Zeaborn believes that the overall market change favors the ship management industry with new challenges emerging surrounding Big Data, regulation on transparency, environmental guidelines etc. Zeaborn was established five years ago when the two partners brought one of Germany’s biggest and most influential business developers – construction and real estate tycoon Kurt Zech – on board for the idea. At that time, the multipurpose rates and asset values were at all time low, and this made Zech, who has otherwise built his fortune on real estate and hotels, to enter the project as prime investor.