George D. Margetis:
“We pursue diversification of services, global expansion and excellence”
– Describe the cornerstones of your company.
– I founded Margetis Maritime Consulting in 2006, aiming to provide Technical Consulting services to the Greek maritime sector and specialising in the area of Insurance, Claims and Casualty handling. As from its foundation, our Firm developed close relations with the Greek and International Marine Insurance sector, soon becoming an approved service provider for the leading Marine Insurers around the world, including the prestigious London Marine Insurance Market, as well as the French and Italian markets.
Back at that time, I was the sole surveyor, operating as a “one man show”, together with Mrs. Katerina Konstandara, as valuable Administrative Assistant and eventual Office Manager. However, by the time of the Firm’s 1st anniversary, I hired another surveyor and started building the team.
Soon, recognizing the international nature of the business and as the financial crisis in Greece was developing, I looked to expand abroad. The beginning came with the opening of our Istanbul office, in January 2011. This triggered the initiation of further expansion of the Firm, continuously adding more locations, more expertise and areas of interest.
Throughout this process, I enjoyed the compassionate support and enduring assistance of my wife, Mrs. Angeliki Homata – Margetis, attorney at law and postgraduate of Oxford University. Angeliki has acted for long mostly behind the scenes, however in the recent time, her involvement in the Firm’s processes and decision making procedures is steadily increasing and is becoming a catalyst in the growth and success of the Company.
Despite the rapid increase, we feel that, even today, we are able to offer the same kind of “boutique” and personalised services, as in the very beginning.
– Can you refer to your business background in shipping focusing on your professional course and your knowledge in the sector of technical consultancy services?
– My familiarity with Maritime Technical Consulting comes from my family. My late father Dimitris Margetis (with routes from Oinousses island), was one of the first Maritime Engineering Consultants, having graduated from UK based university and acted as independent Consultant until his death in 1990.
Besides the maritime background, my father and my mother implanted in me the passion for excellence and academic achievement and eventually I found myself in the USA studying Naval Architecture and Marine Engineering, initially at The University of Michigan, thereafter carried out graduate degrees and research at M.I.T. in Boston.
Since returning back in Greece in 1994, I have been involved with my current field of expertise, I say many times that my range of expertise is rather focused to Marine Technical Insurance and Claims Consulting, and I feel I have a deep knowledge of the subject. In effect, for my entire career, now adding up to 24 years, I have been handling and investigating casualties, damages and claims, assessing the root cause and following rectification repairs. At this point, I wish to highlight the influence of Mr. Anthony Evdemon, my mentor. I was privileged to have work in his firm for the first 12 years of my career, obtaining valuable experience and knowledge.
– Margetis Maritime Consulting has proceeded the last years to the opening of six offices worldwide. Describe the objectives of the global expansion of your company’s activities.
– The Maritime sector is truly international. Greeks lead by controlling some 17% of the world fleet and it is worth noticing that the majority of this fleet doesn’t operate in Greek waters. The Greek managed vessels serve the world trade from Europe to North America, South America, Asia and Oceania.
After the first steps of evolvement of our Company, I recognised that in order to become really a leader in this sector, I needed to get closer to where the ships actually operate. We had a plan from the beginning, a corporate structure that would enable the addition of more locations and more departments as the company grew.
Presently, besides the Piraeus head office, we operate from Istanbul, Montenegro, Split, Houston, Shanghai and (most recently) Dubai.
However, we have also created a network of correspondents in other major ports of the world, including Singapore, Mumbai, Cape Town, Port Elizabeth, Miami and very recently in Adelaide, Australia. In effect, right now, we have a surveyor locally in some 13 major ports around the world, more or less covering the entire globe. This enables us to cover our clients’ needs globally, eliminating response time, reducing travelling and waiting expenses and capturing local knowledge in each country.
Our new motto is “Around the Globe, Around the Clock” and accurately captures the philosophy of the Firm. I am proud to say that following this expansion, “the sun never sets within Margetis Maritime Consulting”, we have an office or a correspondent, ready to operate, somewhere around the world, at any given moment.
The business plan is to expand to all major international ports, “more is yet to come”, as we say!
– Can you give a profile of your clients’ regarding the type of ownership and nationality?
– Our clients are distinguished in two (2) major categories, Maritime Institutions and Ship Management Companies.
Maritime institutions include major Marine Insurers (Hull & Machinery Underwriters, Yacht Underwriters and P&I Clubs) around the world, predominately within the London Insurance Market, France, Italy and Scandinavia, as well as Banks and financial institutions in Greece and abroad.
Evidently, majority of the Shipping Management Companies are based in Greece, however we do interact with Shipping Companies based in the countries where our offices operate.
In terms of vessel types, this is rather diversified, with the majority being bulkers, tankers, passenger vessels, containers and Ro-Ros.
-Describe the skills and qualifications of your company’s human force.
– I believe in the power of the Human resource. We are service providers and the human element is of outmost importance in consulting.
We have invested in human capital. The Survey and Consulting department of the Piraeus head office is presently staffed by young and energetic people, all of whom have joined the company either at the beginning of their career or during their very first footsteps.
“Excellence” is a term that has recently been quite misunderstood in Greece and at some point, even became an issue of political controversy. I believe in excellence and this is depicted in the selection of my associates.
The Piraeus Office Consulting team is headed by Mr. John Balaouras, recently assigned the title of Operations Manager of the entire Firm, already ten (10) years with our Company. Three (3) additional surveyors include Mr. Nick Michalakopoulos, already six (6) years with our Company, Mr. Alexandros Zareifis and Mrs. Ioanna Kafka (the first lady Surveyor in Greece).
All four (4) have academic background in Naval Architecture and Marine Engineering from prestigious academic institutions in Greece (such as the National Technical University of Athens) or UK (New Castle University). It is of notable importance that all had been in the top of their Class and represent the typical perception of the “excellence”.
This young team is joined by senior and very experienced executives, Nick Giannakopoulos, a 35 year veteran in the Yachting department and Prokopis Pyrris, heading our Ship-repair Brokerage and repairs department.
Of great importance is also the recent addition of Mrs. Athina Chrysomalli, a Psychology degree holder (who is presently pursuing a graduate degree in Maritime Studies), who has joined the Firm undertaking issues relating to Human Resources and Quality Assurance.
Similarly, our international branches are headed with staff of diversified experience, including Marine Engineering and Master Mariners with dry and/or wet cargo experience, as well as engineers with vast experience in the Offshore Oil & Gas sector.
I am proud of my Associates, their qualifications and achievements.
– Do you focus on the continuous training and improvement of your company’s staff?
– Excellence comes with a price. We have implemented an intensive training scheme, with each surveyor attending numerous seminars on diversified subjects. However, with such an expanded inhouse expertise around the globe, we try to carry out also internal training, each one offering his experience and knowledge. In December 2017, the staff of the Piraeus Office retreated in Vytina resort for a week-end and we carried out our 1st “Corporate and Strategic Planning Workshop”, with emphasis in training and where the Company’s future plans were thoroughly analyzed and structured, with the assistance of Dr. Anastasios Garis, recently operating as a Management Consultant leveraging his thirty (30) years experience as a senior executive with international companies such as Shell and McKinsey based primarily in London but also lately in Athens. I feel that the workshop exceeded everyone’s expectations and provided innovative ideas for improving performance and efficiency.
– Have you established a channel of communication and dialogue with Greek shipping community in order to meet the highest expectations of the industry?
– A modern Consulting Firm should act dynamically in adjusting the services offered and updating the products. We have achieved this through direct and continuous communication with our clients, both in Greece and abroad. We monitor our clients’ needs and suggestions, obtaining constructive feedback and using same to improve our products and services. I feel that this is exactly what gives us the competitive advantage, acting as a “boutique” Firm, customising our product and listening to the evolving needs of the market.
– In your view, what are the major challenges of shipping including shortage of competent crew and new environmental regulations? How do you face these serious developments?
– The issue of the crew competency has been under scrutiny throughout my entire career! During the recent decades, we have seen a huge evolvement in safety and prevention systems, Navigation has become more and more automated and electronic, nevertheless, I cannot see any decrease in navigational related accidents. Similarly, nowadays, engine room machineries are protected by all sort of monitoring and safety devices, without any sizable decrease in machinery damages. I feel that with the evolution of the safety and automated systems, crews tend to rely on automation and devices, becoming less and less focused on maritime competence. More and more, officers on board are becoming “business executives” rather than Seamen.
There is a great gap to fill-in here in Greece, with more than 1 million of unemployed people. Maritime education should be enhanced and develop the Geek seamen for the future. The Greek seamen’s force has dramatically decreased over the last 2-3 decades. The issue of the maritime education (including the private institutions), is always under discussion in various maritime conferences I attend, however I do not see much development. I consider that the maritime field can be part of the solution to the great unemployment issue in Greece.
I believe that the industry has not yet realised the real impact of the new environmental regulation, in my opinion this will change the way the marine business operates. Incorporating more complicated systems on board, will increase building (and retrofitting) costs, whilst the operating cost will also increase considerably. I am foreseeing major changes!
– As far as we know, Margetis Group has operated and still operates in many areas such as: condition/warranty surveys, Damage Surveys & Claims Handling, Casualty Investigation, Pre-purchase Inspections, Safety Audits, Yacht Management Services, Representing 50 shipyards around the world, Afloat and underwater repairs, Repair Feasibility Investigation, Preparation for Dry-docking, Preparation of technical specifications, Superintendency services, Offshore Energy Oil & Gas services. Isn’t too much all these activities? Can Margetis provide the same quality in all sectors that is involved? What is the receipt of your strategy?
– Diversity in expertise is the prerequisite for diversity in services. We do not offer this great variety of services, changing the “hats” the same people are wearing. In our Piraeus Head office, besides the marine surveyors and consultants, we have an expert in yachting (Mr. Nikos Giannakopoulos, a veteran of 35 years, dedicated in the Yachting sector only), and a dedicated Ship-repair broker (Mr. Prokopis Pyrris).
In Turkey, we employ Mr. Mustafa Azman, the ex. Harbour Master of Istanbul, with vast expertise in rules and regulations in that country, including the very complicated matter of the Turkish Open Form (T.O.F.), the Salvage agreement under the Turkish coastguard monopoly of Salvage services.
In Croatia, Mr. Dragan Curin has operated for many years as marine superintendent. In Dubai, Capt. Anil Agarwal has been acting as tanker vetting for many years, as well as superintendent for Tankers and offshore supply vessels.
In China, Mr Zou Zheng had previously background in Classification Societies, as well as Shipping Companies, having also been involved with New Buildings, with excellent knowledge of the Shipyard industry in this country.
In U.S.A., Mr Antonis Panagiotareas had previously reached the rank of Technical Director, as well as General Director for Greek listed Ship management company, before moving to Houston to act as surveyor. In the same area, Kent Drangtran has a 30-year career in the Offshore, Oil & Gas industry, in the past being employed by A.B.S. and participated in the Revision and Updating the A.B.S. “Guide for Building and Classing Facilities on Offshore Installations”.
We feel we have the right people for the right task.
– Can you refer to your company’s future plans in order to deliver enhanced shipping services to the local shipping community?
– I did state above the importance of “excellence” in our mentality. We never rest, we are continuously pursuing excellence. We are looking to enhance the network of our offices and correspondents, expand the range of services we are offering, but first and foremost, we want to improve the already established products and services, through training and automation.
We are looking for new talent both in Piraeus and abroad, proving our reverence for the human element in this business. After all, the Firm is nothing more than the people that formulate it.
Interview: Stefanos Papandreou
Issue: 531, pg. 8