Interview: Devon Grennan CEO, Global Diving & Salvage
Devon Grennan joined Global Diving & Salvage in 1995 and has served many roles. When company founders Tim Beaver and John Graham stepped down from direct operational involvement, Grennan was named CEO. Maritime Reporter & Engineering News caught up with Grennan for his insight into his company and the business of Diving and Salvage.
What is Global Diving & Salvage?
Global Diving is a full service subsea service provider with three core service lines: Marine Construction, Marine Casualty Response and Offshore Operations. With headquarters in Seattle and regional offices in Alaska, California and Texas, Global is positioned to provide project management, in-house engineering, marine and upland environmental services. Founded in 1979, our experience enables us to adapt quickly to unique problems and resolve potentially costly situations.
How is the company different from when you joined in 1995?
The most importance difference that I see is that when the company was founded, there was a group of dedicated professionals who developed their respective skills during a time when both the commercial diving and marine environmental industries were themselves going through great changes. There was a tremendous opportunity for “on the job” training. There is a different expectation now from maritime clients; they desire professional tradesmen working on their projects and facilities. The entry level employees at our company have the basic skills to dive and work in the field, but are having to invest in their professional development, specifically in construction trade skills such as welding, fabrication, mechanical inclinations, rigging and vessel operations. These are truly the services that our clients expect from us, and not simply having the ability to dive.
How will your ascension have a material impact on the company?
My job is to build upon the incredible foundation that is already in place, built not only by Tim and John, but by a group of experienced managers, support personnel, supervisors and field crews. I think I bring a different perspective on the overall opportunities that the company is capable of capitalizing on in the future; we have amazing depth and expertise in commercial diving, but we are at a point where we need to move beyond diving. It will always remain a core service that the company provides, but we need to move into new sectors of subsea services as well as providing a complete subsea experience for our clients. Our clients are desirous of more topside project management capabilities, as well as marine assets under our direct care.
Looking at your overall business today, where do you see the greatest areas for opportunity, geographically and by sector?
The domestic Gulf of Mexico market is a more short term opportunity for the company; we have a lot of room to grow in the offshore market since the opening of our office in Houston in 2011. Our position in Alaska also has tremendous possibilities with the focus on the arctic. We also feel that there is a tremendous opportunity in the international market in our core strategic service lines. We will have more international credentials by the middle of 2014, and there is a unique opportunity for us to bring our own brand to new clients in the oil and gas market.
How is Global Diving & Salvaging investing?
The largest investment we are making over the course of the next few years is internally with our professional development program. We are focused on our own training center concept, and creating a more well rounded diver and marine technician.
Where do you see the greatest current business challenges?
For Global, the greatest challenge is our need to continually adapt to the needs of our clients. Subsea work is continually moving further offshore and deeper. Developing capabilities to respond to those needs, which include unmanned operations. Clients desire for us to take on a greater scope of the overall operation, so we invest in engineering and project management and evaluation on owning larger marine assets. Internally, we are constantly looking at not only how to develop our professional trademen, but as importantly, how to develop and retain talent in our support groups. I was fortunate to grow up in an extended family who worked on the water, and it was very natural for me to want to continue that tradition. But as an industry, the maritime community needs to do a better job of marketing the benefits and opportunities that are available to younger generations, across the board.
In the press release announcing your appointment, you were quoted as saying the company will “continue the transition from a traditional commercial diving company into a more well-rounded, marine and subsea service provider.” What are your goals in this area, and what steps are you taking to ensure this?
As mentioned briefly before, we are continually asked to provide more value added services to our historic diving and marine environmental services. One very basic lesson that Tim and John taught our senior managers and me is that we have to continually adapt and be responsive to change. Nothing is certain, and you are continually adapting to both the market needs, and aligning those changes with your strengths. Our strength is our innovation, ingenuity, expertise and a flat out, aggressive, can do attitude. Perhaps even a little bit of a chip on our shoulder. When we are asked to push ourselves, we respond. And that is why we need to move into more turnkey marine and subsea services; we need to move beyond subcontracted diving and marine environmental services, and into a more prime position with end users and facility owners.
(As published in the March 2014 edition of Maritime Reporter & Engineering News - www.marinelink.com)