The next generation

Building upon a heritage that began in the 19th century, and established as a company proper in 1977, Torgem Shipyard has long been at the forefront of modern ship construction in Turkey. The yard is part of the overall Tor Group,the foundations for which were put in place in 1880 by the first generation of the Torlak family, which continue to operate the Group today. Vessel construction has remained the traditional line of business, continued by each successive generation, from the original timber vessels through to the delivery of Turkey’s first steel welded vessel.

Under the fourth generationof the Torlak family, in 1977a decision was taken to ownand operate more shipyards bydividing the existing activities intoseparate companies. As a result of this decision, Torgem Shipyard was incorporated with the aim of becoming a leader in Turkish shipbuilding. With this industry undergoing a period of rapid progression, Torgem Shipyard moved the yard to a new location in Tuzla in 1983 where it continued to invest in new shipbuilding technology and processes.

By 2000 the owners of Torgem Shipyard also had a number of other companies in differentsectors, and decided to consolidate all of these under one head structure. As such, the Tor Group was born. At the same time these companies, including Torgem Shipyard, were restructured to create a simple and flexible organisation, which together with new investment, enabled the Group to lead the competition in its ability to repair and construct various kinds of vessels.

Having gathered such a wealth of experience over the years, Torgem Shipyard is capable of handling new builds of all types of vessels, as well as repairs, conversions, annual surveys, machinery, overhauls, steel work, and renewals. In total the yard has built almost 90 vessels and this year has marked yet another new chapter in the yard’s history with the induction of a new generation of management.

“As the fifth generation of the Torlak family to be involved in Turkish shipbuilding we owe a lot to our predecessors as we would not be here if it was not for their hard work and efforts,” enthuses Mustafa Kemal Torlak, chairman of Torgem Shipyard. “At the beginning of 2012 the fourth generation handed over the reins to the shipyard to us, and I believe we have responded well by securing a serial production shipbuilding order just a few months later.”

In the wake of the aftermath of the global financial crisis in 2008, which continues to take a heavy toll on the shipbuilding industry the Tor Group decided to make further revisions to its structure in order to better position itself, by setting up specialist affiliate companies focused on specific niche sectors. This has seen the creation of Tor Marine and Lemmar, which both feed into Torgem Shipyard, and ultimately the Tor Group. Tor Marine is focused on international turnkey markets for shipbuilding and repairs in the sectors of offshore wind farms and oil industry support vessels, tugs, workboats, AHTS, and similar craft, whilst Lemmar acts on localised order from Turkish ship owners in areas like IMO II tankers, container ships, bulk carriers, and general cargo vessels.

The main reason for this separation is that the nature of the domestic shipbuilding business is significantly different to the international market. By delivering these from a dedicated affiliate the Group can ensure that the right staff and resources are deployed for each order. The shipyard facilities of the Tor Group remain under Torgem Shipyard, which in turn will serve the business requirements of Tor Marine and Lemmar. All of these companies are located at the same site in Tuzla, Turkey, which spans a total area of 19,000 square metres. Within this sits 2000 square metres of workshop space, a 12,000 square metre construction area with two slipways, and an outfitting and repair quay.

“Torgem Shipyard has delivered many vessels to be proud of including general cargo vessels, container ships, chemical tankers and bulk carriers of up to 20,000 tonnes deadweight. However in order to adjust to the tough market conditions, a new strategy was adopted which involved the shipyard entering new niche segments such as tug and workboats, as well as focusing on other specialist areas like AHTS and offshore support vessels,” confirms Mustafa.

Recent activities at the yard show that these new divisions, and niche markets, are already getting well underway. “One of our latest vessels is a 23-metre 30-tonne bollard pull tug boat,” describes Mustafa. “This is being fitted with a dynamic oval towing (DOT) system, which is unique because it allows the tug to tow from any direction. The vessel has been built on speculation and I believe it will be well received by the marketplace and potentially generate more demand for additional boats due to the unique DOT solution. The latest customer project secured at Torgem Shipyard is from the Saudi Arabia-based company ATCO for 19 boats. The order consists of various types of tug boats, pilot boats, and special purpose workboats for port operations and support services. We are very proud to have secured this order and believe it is a testament to our approach and way of working with our customers who we see more as partners.”

Under its current strategy Torgem Shipyard’s main focus is on shipbuilding, however it does remain present in the repair and maintenance markets given its huge experience in this sector. The other area where the yard maintains an interest is conversion projects. Torgem Shipyard has a good competence in this area having converted single hulls to double hulls and refitted Ropax vessels, as well as carrying out conversions of general cargo ships to container ships and numerous resizing of vessels in both length and height.

Although technically some years in the past now, the global economic crisis has not let up its grip on the shipbuilding market which has remained depressed over the last few years. This is not the first crisis though that Torgem Shipyard has faced in its history, and as such it is well experienced in managing such challenges. Under the leadership of its new management, the yard has still achieved some significant success, which has enabled it to progress even in these more difficult conditions.

“The general outlook for the next two years is not overly positive, as markets continue to struggle to recover creating difficulties for companies in this shrinking environment. However, for Torgem Shipyard my view is much more positive as we have managed to find new niches in which we can grow. As such before the end of the year we hope to have some more interesting announcements. Furthermore, we are currently involved in product innovation and development meaning that we expect to come out with a new range of products and services before the end of 2013,” concludes Mustafa.

Torgem Shipyard
Long shipbuilding heritage
Family owned
Entering new niche markets