NMC Focuses on Niche

Monday, April 28, 2003
In 1994, just one year after completing a turnkey restaurant project on Cunard Line’s cruiseship Sagafjord, Norwegian Marine Construction (NMC) won a $15 million refurbishing contract for a second ship, Vistafjord. NMC has played a fundamental role in supplying refurbishment services and professionals to a growing number of global cruise clients. NMC’s president for its US division, Anne-Christine Kjøs talks about the company and challenging trends within the refit industry.

QUESTION: The past eight years have been tremendous years for NMC, what have been the important milestones? KJØS: Vistafjord was a real breakthrough, but last year’s $4 million refurbishment project aboard the Prinsendam, (former Seabourn Sun) owned by Holland America Line, enabled NMC to prove its success in undertaking mission-critical refit projects. Recent contracts involving the Seabourn fleet, Seabourn Pride, Seabourn Legend and Seabourn Spirit, are repeat orders, which say a lot about customer satisfaction.

QUESTION: In the refit business, what vital market trends to you see developing? KJØS: The most demanding trend is the pace and degree of change within the cruise industry. Secondly, the industry’s increasing requirements for highly skilled technical professionals and craftsmen, places a premium on having contract people with the latest technical knowledge and skills. NMC has always been tightly "niched," focusing on disciplines and procedures; to coordinate all human resource activities related to refit projects, to minimize project costs and to respond rapidly to the client’s needs.

QUESTION: In a competitive market, what are NMC’s key differences? KJØS: Vital to all refit contracts, small or large, is the ability to plan the work and work the plan. Though this sounds simple on paper, cruise refit projects demand streamlined NMC organizational strengths to the specific project and time requirements of each customer. These strengths are supported by strong technical expertise combined with sophisticated solutions to solve the most demanding architectural designs. Involved in modern, innovative refurbishment projects, we are able to keep abreast the latest developments within cruise design and accurately qualify individuals to meet particular job requirements.

QUESTION: How important is the contract team and on-site management. KJØS: Both are extremely important, determining failure or success. The team makes a critical contribution to the success of each project. On the average we employ 50 – 60 labourers and know each of them personally, hand picked according to previous experience, technical capabilities and the project at hand. In addition, NMC maintains a network of pre-screened, tested, interviewed and available people. A key NMC project manager is allocated to every project, from start to finish. That person is the first to arrive and the last to leave. The project manager looks after a project team with allocated people responsible for SOLAS and technical requirements, logistics, finance and contractual details, procurement, quality control and scheduling and coordination of personnel and husbandry. QUESTION: Accessible to ship drawings, refurbishing must be a rather straightforward procedure compared to that of a newbuilding? KJØS: On the contrary, a refit project represents a high degree of uncertainty throughout the planning and on-site building periods. The engineering is very complex, requiring precise measures according to detailed yard drawings. We have experienced that when the walls and fixtures come down, some type of surprise awaits us. In these cases it is imperative to have highly skilled professionals capable of solving any on-site discrepancy.

QUESTION: What is the future outlook for NMC? Kjøs: The refit cruise business will continue to grow as operators incorporate new ideas to meet passenger demands. With extensive knowledge of the refurbishment trade, NMC will continue to provide the technology, the tools and the expertise enabling cruise operators to seize opportunities and successfully compete in a demanding shipping segment. NMC’s business strategy is maintaining high-level customer satisfaction through streamlined organizational and project efficiency, with a sharpened focus around core and growth business opportunities. The future looks bright.

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