Celebrating 25 years as global marine services supplier

Committed to providing innovation and excellence for its customers, Fendercare Marine celebrates 25 years of trading in 2013.

The company, originally called Fender Care Ltd, was established in 1988 in a small rural location in the heart of East Anglia. Originally its core business was the sale, hire and refurbishment of Yokohama fenders. Three years later, the company opened the first of many global bases to help supply Middle Eastern countries during the first Gulf War.

In 1993, as the company expanded, it relocated to its new head office in Seething, just a few miles south of Norwich, Norfolk, where the company still resides today. From this base, it now has control offices and stock hubs in Brazil, Australia, China, Nigeria, Angola, Ghana, India, the Middle East and Singapore, as well as a global network of agents and distributors who have exclusive arrangements to sell its products. It has grown from a handful of staff to over 400 employees located worldwide.

Having built a reputation as a supplier of quality marine products - in particular Yokohama fenders - it took the bold step in 1995 of entering the ship-to-ship (STS) market. Initially acting as a preferred contractor to Shell, Fendercare Marine's STS operations involve transfers between vessels of any size with a variety of cargoes including crude oil, white and black products, LPG and LNG as well as bulk cargoes. This proved to be a very shrewd move, as Fendercare Marine has now become the leading provider of third party ship-to-ship (STS) transfer services in the world.

In 2012 it transferred over 475 million barrels during almost 3,000 individual operations across the world from over 40 STS bases, compared with just 18 million barrels in 1995 when it first started STS transfers. Throughout this time, one thing Fendercare Marine is particularly proud of is its exemplary safety record - not having had a single environmental incident since starting STS services in 1995.

Fendercare Marine has built an enviable customer list over the last 25 years, from small independent traders to multi-national oil and gas conglomerates, as well as becoming supplier to many of the world's navies. Its sizeable naval product portfolio began in 1999 when it first began supplying fenders to the Ministry of Defence in the UK. It won a five year contract worth $29 million to supply the US Navy, who said of Fendercare Marine;

"(it is) a vital part of assuring our US submarine fleet's mooring capabilities continue positively throughout the world."

Part of the Fendercare Marine ethos seems to have become "if we don't supply it now, we soon will". Over the last few years, it has expanded its marine product and service range through judicious acquisition of well respected, quality brands such as E. J. Bean, Turners Marine Trading and Hippo Marine. The purchase of surface preparation company Blastgreen in 2009 has opened new doors both inside and outside the marine sectors. The wet blasting service is used for cleaning in all zoos, racetracks, graffiti removal, canal boats and on Britain's roads. The load and stress monitoring company, Strainstall Marine became a subsidiary of Fendercare Marine last year, adding another string to the Fendercare Marine bow and further extending its reach into the offshore oil and gas markets.

A key milestone in Fendercare Marine's history came in 2005 when it became a part of James Fisher and Sons plc, a leading service provider in all sectors of the marine industry and a specialist supplier of engineering services to the nuclear industry in the UK and abroad. This venture has allowed Fendercare Marine to access a wider range of services for its customers than ever before, resulting in extraordinary turnover growth from £15 million to £150 million in just seven years.

The additional resources and services that James Fisher and Sons plc brought helped Fendercare Marine take on its most ambitious project yet. In 2012, it took responsibility for the marine terminal of two oil fields in Angola, Africa as part of a £200 million deal to provide turnkey marine terminal management services. The contract award marked a significant step forward in the development of its marine services business, demonstrating that it has the scale, technology, expertise and global reach to take on such complex operational challenges. As Fendercare Marine's group business development director, Martin Dronfield, said;

"(this contract) represents a very real vote of confidence by the major international oil companies and licensing authorities that our unique approach offers an ideal balance of environmental awareness, safety, efficiency and sustainability."

The offshore energy market has seen great changes over the last 25 years and Fendercare Marine has certainly been moving with the times. The unprecedented expansion of the global marine renewables sector saw it open its first wave and tidal support base in Lyness, Orkney in 2010. Never forgetting its local roots, however, it followed this by launching its first offshore wind turbine personnel support base in Great Yarmouth, Norfolk. Great Yarmouth is also home to Fendercare Marine Diving Services, established in 2010 to provide a wide range of diving services and equipment.

"Since the launch of our Marine Diving Services division in 2010, the demand for our diving services has increased dramatically. As well as completing a number of diving and marine service contracts in the UK, we are now supporting our customers internationally including the provision of a 30 man team to support FPSO operations in West Africa,"

continues Martin.

Receiving full IMCA membership, ADC membership and Bureau Veritas approval are all further evidence of the Diving Services divisions' commitment to safety and quality.

Due to the success of the Great Yarmouth support base, it expanded the range of services available there in January to incorporate mechanical, electrical and lifting equipment; hydraulic equipment and winches; lifting slings and load/stress monitoring equipment. The new division - Fendercare Marine Equipment and Lifting Services - is now supporting the oil and gas offshore sectors as well as the renewable industry, creating a truly unique offshore energy support base.

The Lifting Services part of the division supplies the needs of both the offshore energy market and land based industrial sites. Never ones to miss an opportunity, their Lifting Division also supplies the emergency animal rescue harnesses used by the fire services throughout the UK and is currently in talks with fire services in Europe.

One of the keys to Fendercare Marine's success has been its strong leadership team. Its current managing director, Eric Plane, joined Fendercare Marine in 1995 and has been its MD since 1997. In his words;

"Fendercare Marine is the company it now is because of the 'can do' attitude it uses everyday. This applies to opening an STS base in what may be hostile territory where others would think twice, or simply going the extra mile for a client in a variety of ways. We pride ourselves on our customer service whether it is in Australia, Brazil, Africa or the UK."

So what does the future hold for Fendercare Marine? It seems that there are no plans to rest on it laurels. The Angola turnkey project continues apace; oil and gas opportunities in East Africa and the Falkland Islands are being explored; contracts to fulfil with (amongst others) the US Navy and plans for further renewable energy support bases around the UK in 2013.

Looking to the future, Eric said;

"We are constantly trying to widen our appeal to our customers and the fact that a customer who simply used us for an STS operation in 2007 can now ask us to manage an offshore terminal or to change out an SBM bears testament to that. Our ambition is to ensure that Fendercare Marine is the 'go-to' name on our clients' lists regardless of what the issue or requirement may be. We want to be able to take what we started as a tiny company founded 25 years ago in a back bedroom and turn it into a truly global marine services provider without losing our roots, our ethos and our passion for business."

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