Frans Roelse has been the Managing Director of Marlow Navigation Nederland for some 19 years now. ‘We are part of a larger organization,’ Frans begins. ‘We are based in Rotterdam, our head office is in Limassol/Cyprus and the 14,000 crew members placed on our customers' 1,200 vessels come from the Philippines, the Baltic States, Russia and Ukraine, among others.’
Of course, when you hear about the latter countries, a lightbulb moment happens immediately. ‘We are in a difficult time.
The last few years have been very tough for our crew already because of the coronavirus crisis. Crew members often had to stay on board for long periods before someone could take over from them. That was very tough and now the conflict between Russia and Ukraine follows it. There are many concerns about our crew and their families. We do everything we can, providing shelter where possible and helping families of crew members however and wherever necessary.’
‘We deeply respect the men on board the ships for continuing their work despite all the worries.’
Like everyone else, Frans hopes that the conflict will soon be over. However, he enjoys commotion in other circumstances. ‘Shipping is dynamic, and it knows many ups and downs. There is always something going on and that makes the work varied, interesting, and challenging. The activities carried out by Marlow and Clearwater also make it attractive. We have a hectic job and a close relationship with our customers. We have been working with many of them for years, through good times and bad, with reciprocal loyalty. I like that.’
Frans automatically speaks of ‘we’ when speaking of Marlow and Clearwater. ‘The collaboration is very smooth. The Clearwater colleagues have moved into Marlow's office and it feels like they have been there for years. They are great people to work with, and many have been with the company for a long time. That is incredibly familiar. At Marlow, we are no strangers to these long employment contracts. Taking good care of our people is our strength. As a result, most of our crew and office staff have been with us for more than ten years and many for more than twenty.’
Marlow and Clearwater have many other similarities. ‘Like Marlow, Clearwater also has an excellent reputation in the sector. While Marlow is crew and ship manager and handles the management for container ships, bulk ships, offshore ships, and general purpose ships; Clearwater does this for tankers, especially in chemicals. That was also the main reason for our collaboration. In many ways, our businesses were similar as well as complementary. Through this collaboration, we are able to offer a wider range of services.’
Frans indicates that thanks to the collaboration, there is now also room for expansion of the tank management. Through the cooperation with Marlow, we are able to expand the number of vessels for tank management, and this is high on the agenda.