Established in Shanghai in 1903 by Norwegian businessman Haakon Wallem, for more than a century the Wallem Group has delivered ship broking services to the international marine market. Following its initial success, the company quickly grew to incorporate ship management and agency services. In 1925 Haakon opened a branch in Hong Kong, which today remains the Wallem Group’s headquarters, and this network has since expanded to 49 offices in 19 countries.
Driving this growth is the company’s strategy of working as a business partner to its clients in order to manage their assets in the most commercially successful manner, whilst always seeking ways to improve its services. As its activities have widened over the years, so the Wallem Group has worked to structure itself to address these in the most efficient way. The Group is currently divided into four separate service areas.
Wallem Shipmanagement is the largest and best-known division of the Wallem Group, managing more than 350 ships. This includes a broad spectrum of vessel types such as oil, chemical and gas tankers, bulk carriers, containerships, general cargo ships, reefers, car carriers, and passenger vessels. One of the primary services of the division is crew management – an important issue for every vessel owner or operator – where Wallem Shipmanagement boasts a network of eight training centres in locations such as the Philippines, China, and India. This enables the business to provide customers with a high level of trained personnel. By carefully recruiting, selecting and retaining seafarers, Wallem Shipmanagement is able to bring added value to its clients’ vessel operations.
Other key services offered by the division include technical management, safety and insurance, and procurement. In particular Wallem Shipmanagement prides itself in the protection and enhancement of its clients’ assets by ensuring vessels are well maintained and operating safely and efficiently. As such, the company has developed world-class maritime software solutions that are equally user-friendly, enable smarter methods of working, reduce administration time and most importantly costs. With such a large fleet under its management, Wallem Shipmanagement has a substantial buying power in terms of procurement activities for its clients. As such, in addition to providing these services to ships under its own management, it also extends this offering to client-managed vessels.
As the oldest service of the Wallem Group, Wallem’s traditional ship broking activity is now part of the Commercial Services division which includes commercial management, financial and advisory services. Wallem’s commercial services managing director Michael Birley notes: “Full scale commercial management and corporate financial advice in particular are key growth areas for the business. What is unique about our service is that we work alongside our colleagues in Wallem Shipmanagement to provide a complete project management solution.” The third division within the Group is its agency services arm – Wallem Shipagencies, which has an extensive Far East and South-East Asian network. Currently the business is present in ten countries through 27 offices, including key commercial ports in Japan, China, Taiwan, Hong Kong, the Philippines, Vietnam, Thailand, Malaysia, and Singapore. This includes the Group’s latest office in Cambodia, which opened in 2010. Across this network, Wallem Shipagencies provides a full range of agency services such as port formalities, engaging tugs and pilots, contracting stevedores when required, deliveries of parts and provisions, and all aspects of communication and cost control.
“Within this division our client base includes conventional and container liner vessels, specialist heavy lift and bulk carriers, oil and gas tankers, navy, and cruise vessels,” Dickson Chin, general manager of Wallem Shipping Hong Kong said. “In particular the cruise market is growing in the region as we see a greater uptake of cruise activities, and as a result more liners are looking to home port their vessels in Hong Kong, Singapore and Shanghai. We recognise the importance of China, so we were the first fully licensed foreign participation agency provider in China to offer a local service which meets international benchmarks.”
Completing the company structure is final business area – Wallem Innovative Solutions (WIS), which serves to bridge the gap between the marine market and business process management. Originally established to provide IT development and support to the Wallem Group and its clients, WIS has since diversified into providing software or solutions such as business process re-engineering and off-shoring to other players within the maritime industry. The headquarters for WIS is in Hong Kong, and an office was opened in the Philippines in 1999 to support the requirements of the industry. The office now employs about more than 80 professionally qualified staff.
Patrick Slesinger, WIS director and Group CIO elaborates on how these business processes deliver added value to clients: “Essentially business process management and off-shoring is a concept based upon collating knowledge, documenting it, and then using this to run the business’ back office activities in another location. Often individuals who have corporate knowledge and experience are operating at the frontline of a business, and this information may not be being taken right through into the back office. By gathering that information and agreeing procedures, we can then feed this to our WIS team in the Philippines, who implement and manage these processes and therefore maximise a client’s productivity and value.
“We are focused on the maritime service sector because of our internal expertise in how these companies operate. In 2006 WIS achieved ISO 9001 and in December 2009 the ISO 20000 standard for service delivery management. As an internationally recognised standard, I believe that this is a major achievement for a shipping company to hold.”
These kinds of developments are noticeable throughout the wider Wallem Group, as the business recognises the importance of remaining at the forefront of the ever evolving marine sector: “At present our ship management office in Bergen, Norway, is diversifying into offering management services to offshore support vessels,” describes Jim Nelson, Wallem Shipmanagement’s managing director. “This is a fairly prominent market sector within Norway, and as such we have identified various opportunities for the provision of a local service but with the backing of an international group. We can provide a support network in procurement, insurance, and worldwide sourcing of personnel, but through an on the ground presence. In 2008 we also gained SAS 70 certification for our offices. This is a mandatory requirement for all US listed organisations, and helps Wallem reduce their costs for auditing.”
Whilst Wallem Group’s investments and developments may be spread across a wide range of activities, they all serve to strengthen its core purpose of providing modern shipping services within a traditional organisation. Wallem Group’s ability to integrate its individual divisions enables it to act as a single source provider, whilst ensuring clients receive excellent service anywhere in the world. Despite being already established as a leading player in the maritime support sector, Wallem Group remains ambitious about growing its position further and diversifying its service solution to meet the industries’ requirements. Within the current market are many opportunities for a company of Wallem’s reputation and positioning, and the whole of the Group is set on remedying the problems within the industry whilst continuing to grow.
World’s most experienced ship manager
Strong China base
Providing business process management and off-shoring services