Solutions without borders

Høyergruppen AS is one of the oldest Norwegian shipping companies, with origins that stretch back to 1816. It was then that Niels Pedersen established a trading house in Skien. At first the company was involved in a variety of activities but over the years Høyergruppen has endured, adapting and evolving into its present profile: a dynamic, versatile and competitive player in the modern shipping market. Its core offerings today include three main categories – chartering, agency and forwarding. It is currently responsible for a fleet of ten vessels.

The name given by Høyergruppen to its collection of ships is Hoyerpool. The last time Shipping & Marine spoke with the company, Hoyerpool managing director Per Berget hinted at potential vessels being brought into the fleet; MV Fri Langesund joined Hoyerpool in January 2012. Per talks in greater detail about the ship: “She is a 4100 deadweight cargo capacity (DWCC) general cargo vessel built in 1997 at Damen Shipyards in Holland. She is running as expected, and the master and crew seem quite pleased with the vessel. Of course there is always room for improvement but together with Kopervik Ship Management (KSM), which deals with all the technical aspects, we feel that the best can be got out of her. MV Fri Langesund has made an excellent addition to our expanding fleet of small modern dry bulk vessels.”

The Kopervik Group consists of about 20 companies all connected to owning or managing vessels in the short sea market, and KSM has been a long-term partner with Høyergruppen. In providing high quality technical management across its fleet it has given Høyergruppen the space to focus on and perfect the commercial management of its tonnage.

“Since we only do the commercial management and operations of the fleet, it is a huge benefit to have a close relationships with KSM,” Per emphasises. “They are an experienced company with a solid reputation. Since they also are shareholders in the vessels together with us, it makes it even easier to reach decisions of a technical nature and to ensure general maintenance is being looked after because we have short chains of command and open lines of communication between us. We started working with them in the mid-1990s and have had no regrets since.”

To have sustained a profitable well-respected company for more than 150 years is not possible without a strong in-house team though, and this is where Høyergruppen can rightly claim strength. Decades of accumulated experience mean it is able to meet or even exceed customer expectations with speed and flexibility. Ensuring that onboard crew are responsible and fully skilled is one of the company’s most important tasks but also that, within the administration departments, it remains fully immersed in the market. Bunker prices are a good current example of this, with Høyergruppen ensuring that the fuel is handled most efficiently throughout the company due to rising market prices.

“The extremely high fuel prices we have now is of course a big challenge for us and everybody else in the shipping business so we keep a close eye on that,” says Per. “We are nevertheless depending on our people at sea to aim at the same goals as we do onshore; goals such as keeping costs as low as possible without interrupting speed, quality and level of service. If you add in environmental responsibility as well one can understand that this indeed is a difficult – but achievable – task. So far it has been working out pretty good for us.”

Obviously the array of challenges facing Høyergruppen are essentially the same as they were 12 months ago: ongoing fallout from the financial crisis continues to negatively affect trade and prices making it difficult for managers and even more difficult for owners. Nonetheless, Høyergruppen has sustained a pleasant level of business, making good on its obligations toward financial institutions and customers, by ensuring that the company is unified and streamlined and ‘on the offensive’ within the market. The acquisition of MV Fri Langesund is testament to the success of this approach.

Høyergruppen is now in a good position for a rejuvenating market and continues looking for ships that will improve its capabilities. The company expects a busy summer with new acquisitions during Q2 and Q3 of 2012 as well as several unannounced projects currently being conceptualised.

Looking further ahead, Per concludes with confidence in a company that has already proved its lasting power: “We will continue to consolidate our position in our segment of the market in the coming years, continue improving what we are good at, but at the same time explore new ventures whilst keeping our minds open to new technologies and ideas. Meanwhile we will put our efforts into developing Hoyerpool’s green profile. Locally we will also work to keep our agency departments competitive and maintain the level of services they provide.”

Recently acquired new ship
Big focus on service quality
Roots going back to 1816