Mermaid Maritime is a holding company for several other companies and was originally started by Dane Jørgen Lundbæk together with another Danish partner in 1982. Since then the company has expanded rapidly and today the group employs more than 400 staff, a number fast approaching 500.
When ScandAsia visited Mermaid in late March the company had just finished settling into their new buildings in Pinthong industrial Estate.
The company moved here in 2004 after giving up its roots in Laem Chabang with another Danish company, Viking. When Mermaid moved out, Viking took over Mermaid’s old buildings.
But the new headquarters are not the only thing that is new at Mermaid Maritime. The company recently also signed a new manager for its safety division, Tommy Hansen from Denmark, a former Viking employee.
Moving into new and bigger buildings is not the only way in which Mermaid Maritime is expanding. The company is also moving its business beyond Thai borders and since October 2004 has a registered subsidiary in Vietnam – simply called Mermaid Vietnam. It already employs 10 people and is run by Dane Carsten Sloth.
“The company in Vietnam is doing almost the same thing as Mermaid Safety in Thailand.”
“Looking long term we plan to expand the business. This is just a start, as it was the easiest thing to be licensed to do,” says Mermaid executive director Jørgen Lundbæk, who sees great opportunities in Vietnam.
“It is a bit like China…they are 40 years behind…with the exception they all have mobile phones,” he says, adding that Vietnam still needs to do something about its fragile infrastructure.
“Otherwise foreign companies looking to invest might lose interest.”
Mermaid Maritime is split into four divisions – Offshore, Training, Drilling and Safety.
“Mermaid Offshore is where we do all the diving and operate diving vessels,” Jørgen explains. When Mermaid employees dive it is done to check or maintain the bottom of ships, oil rigs or equipment placed on the seabed. All these things are by law submitted to checks once a year, and Mermaid offers the service to check and repair faults – the only company licensed to do that work in Thailand.
Mermaid Training is another subsidiary in the holding company housed in Mermaid’s new buildings. The main facility, a 10-metre-deep training pool has just been finished and was commissioned in January 2006.
“We train divers from all over the world. I know for sure that we have the only facility in Asia. The closest thing is maybe in Australia. Otherwise divers will have to go to the States or the UK to receive similar training,” Jørgen explains.
“Mermaid Drilling operates two drilling oil rigs, the MTR 1 and MTR 2,” Lundbæk explains, keeping it brief. Both are self-erecting tender barges which can accommodate 115 people, drill to a depth of 19,500 feet with four-inch drill pipe in a maximum water depth of 100 metres.
But safety is the main business of the company and is what Mermaid started out doing – security checks on the emergency equipment of ships and offshore platforms.
Mermaid Safety Services are certified to guarantee all kinds of fire fighting equipment – life boats and so on – the stuff you hope you will never need – but must work as intended under the demanding safety specs of the industries involved.
Mermaid Safety is run Tommy Hansen, who transferred from Viking in November 2005.
“Mermaid Safety provides a function servicing almost all known safety equipment brands. There are always new ones emerging of course, but we service all the well known ones,” Jørgen points out.
When asked how Mermaid Safety Services is doing in terms of customers, Jørgen answers with a big smile: “We have far too many. We might need to raise our prices.”
“But seriously, there are no limitations. Anyone from Maersk to the U.S. Coast Guard or a small Cambodian ship owner can have their equipment fixed or serviced here,” Tommy Hansen steps in.
“The trick is that we are the only ones approved to do what we do in Thailand,” he adds.
“That means no competition,” Jørgen adds.
Tommy Hansen has a wealth of experience from the maritime world and has worked for Maersk among others before moving to Mermaid Safety. As noted earlier, Tommy held a position at Viking, a company he worked for off and on for the last ten years. Among other things he has been involved in setting up a factory in Indonesia. But last year he called it quits “to look for new challenges.”
And now he finds himself in a spot where there is plenty to do.
“Considering the growth that has taken place in this company already, it is a big challenge to expand even further.”
“If you look back just two years ago, Mermaid had only 80 employees. Now it has more than 400 and revenues in 2005 were around 1.2 billion baht,” Tommy explains only to be interrupted by Jørgen, who adds: “And it is going to be even higher this year.”
Tommy is already looking forward to his next challenge, trying to bring Mermaid Safety into the air safety business.
“Airplane safety is the next big thing,” he confirms.
“So next time you go on a plane, make sure the equipment has a Mermaid sticker,” Jørgen adds with a smile.
Further on Mermaid Maritime:
Dane Stays Put To Make Maritime Safety His Business
Mermaid Maritime Can Work Under Pressure With Latest Acquisition