Finding Opportunities in Market Disruption

Bengt Ekstrand

By The Maritime Executive 2017-03-12 15:59:08

by Bengt Ekstrand

It won’t have escaped anyone’s attention that the maritime industry has experienced several years of sustained disruption. The long-term pressures of the global economic slowdown have been coupled with the impact of the oil price slump on the offshore energy sector, along with a number of other challenges that are particular to the shipping world, such as the oversupply of vessels.

When it comes to navigating a course through the turbulent market conditions, different organizations will take different approaches. Some will choose to ‘batten down the hatches’, retrench their business and wait for the storm to pass. 

But we believe that the companies that do best are often those with the foresight, the imagination and the courage to not only continue to push ahead during tough times, but to invest and innovate in the solutions that will help them and their customers to take advantage of the opportunities that often arise amid market disruption.

This is the approach that GAC has taken; an approach that has helped us to maintain a solid balance sheet, despite slumps in key segments of the shipping and oil and gas industries. 

We have continued to invest in capital assets such as vessels and warehouses in key locations around the world despite the difficult conditions. In 2016, our total investment commitments reached more than $65 million.

Over the coming five years, we will continue to push for greater innovation and flexibility in how we do business and serve our customers.  We also strongly believe that this is the right approach for any organization that wants to not only survive, but to thrive, despite turbulent global markets.  Companies that are willing to rethink their business models, put their customers first, and take advantage of new technologies will find ways to prosper in these trying times.

Disruptive forces are reshaping GAC’s shipping, marine and logistics markets almost on a weekly basis but in the process, new opportunities for growth are coming into view.

The challenge for us is to evolve in a smart way and not throw out important values that have served GAC for 60 years.

An important factor in achieving this is to maintain our focus on long-term priorities, objectives and opportunities. It’s important not to get swept away by the disruptive forces in our markets and start making wholesale changes just for short-term effects.

In Dubai, where GAC is headquartered, we have broken ground on a new distribution center and have similar developments are underway in Bahrain, Sir Lanka, Indonesia and Thailand.  We’ve also entered a joint venture for operating a container terminal in Cyprus, and have added five new vessels to our marine fleet.

However, it’s not just about our physical infrastructure and resources.  Perhaps the biggest challenge so far has been to ensure that the skills, values and attitudes of GAC management and staff remain strong and ever-responsive to changing market conditions. One of the ways we meet that challenge is through the GAC Corporate Academy, which this year marks its 10th anniversary. Through the Academy, employees around the GAC world use leading-edge technology to participate in specialized learning directly aligned to their business focus, giving them the tools to deliver the best service.

We pride ourselves on being known worldwide for going the extra mile for customers, and for maintaining strong and clear ethical and compliance practices.  We have to keep our ‘can-do’ attitude at the fore, while exploring ways to ramp up our use of smart technologies that deliver increased efficiency to our people and added value to our customers.

Indeed, having the right values and ethos as an organization - and ensuring that every member of your team shares them - is never more important than when market conditions are unfavorable.

There is no magic formula for commercial success during tough times, but investing in people and investing in technology are both important parts of the solution.  Coupled with a strong commitment to your values, this will help ensure that your organization - like ours - remains strong, agile and ready for whatever the market may bring.

The products and services herein described in this press release are not endorsed by The Maritime Executive.