Pushing the boat out

Established by Ireneusz Ćwirko and Krzysztof Kulczycki in 1990, Crist SP Z.O.O. is a Polish company involved in the construction and maintenance of ships particularly for the offshore industry. Crist has two production plants in Gdansk and one in Gdynia, and employs approximately 1000 people across these three sites. Each of the three facilities is dedicated to a different aspect of the company’s business: the main office and production plant number one in Gdansk is dedicated to the board of directors, purchasing department, and steel construction and outfitting; production plant two is in Gdynia and houses the building of ships, harbour engineering and other steel construction; production facility number three, also in Gdansk, is for ship repairs, conversions and outfitting.

When it began, the company offered only ship assembly and repair to its customers but has since expanded its capabilities, and is now able to offer vessel and offshore platform construction as part of its services. Since it began, Crist has built approximately 300 units and currently has a throughput of 30,000 tons of processed steel a year. Krzysztof Kulczycki, co-founder and director of the company, further explains its current operations: “Our specialisation at the moment is the offshore industry. We provide support vessels for oil drilling platforms, cargo handlers, jack-up barges for wind turbine installations, to name but a few.”

Though it has a history of providing both onshore and offshore services, the move into offshore construction has become the company’s driving force, with clients from Norway, Germany, Holland and a number of other northern European countries signing new build contracts with Crist. Krzysztof believes this speciality will become
increasingly important to both his company and the industry at large: “There is a big chance for the ship building industry to engage themselves in the offshore market at the moment. There are big opportunities to develop offshore structures, the vessels and floating units that are necessary for the installation of windfarms, the building of bridges, and so on.”

He adds that this has been important in surviving the financial crisis: “The crisis slowed down the number of ship-building orders. We survived only because we concentrated on offshore support vessels for drilling platforms. We have been building fishing vessels and smaller containers but when we saw the crisis approaching we turned to the offshore market. We believe this has been the right thing to do.” Crist observed more than just bad news for shipbuilding, however, as Krzysztof explains: “There is forward movement in the ship-building market, mainly for technical vessels rather than big containers or bulk carriers. Technical, research and support vessels are where the industry is right now.”

To remain competitive in the market Crist has recently purchased new property in the Gdynia shipyard. This new location is a great opportunity as the port of Gdynia is one of the largest ports on the Baltic Sea. However, because it was bought from a previous owner, Krzysztof explains its need for upgrading: “At our new production plant in Gdynia we have just completed a reconditioning of the machines. We also removed old valves and installed new ones that we bought a couple of years ago. We are preparing this facility for another 20 years of production.” The biggest advantage to this new facility is the 70,000 square metres of roofed space, allowing the company to construct during any time of day or year. It also provides a 380 by 70 metre dry dock and overhead cranes with a 1000 tonne lifting capacity.

Krzysztof elaborates on the strengths of Crist, crediting success to the skills of its employees: “We are a very reliable company, and we are an entirely private operation. Despite being 20 years old we have survived in this tough market because both our engineering staff and labour force are well educated. We also have our own school for welders so that we can provide training courses for people that want to become welders, as well as check the abilities of our older employees.” The company is also recognised by leading certification groups such as the Polish Registry for Shipping (PRS), Det Norske Veritas (DNV) and Bureau Veritas Group (BV).

For the future, Crist is looking to expand into the renewable energy market alongside developing its already considerable presence in general offshore industry. It has already undertaken contracts to support the installation of offshore wind turbines and hopes to gain further business in this area aided by its newly expanded capabilities. It also looks forward to expanding its business into neighbouring countries such as Denmark and Germany whilst raising its reputation further afield too, as Krzysztof concludes: “I am convinced that within the next three months we will be signing contracts that will gain us greater recognition throughout Europe.”

Recently purchased new shipyard

Expanding into offshore and renewable energy markets

Highly educated workforce