Home Greece Teamwork and corporate structure are the key elements of Pioneer’s growth strategy

Teamwork and corporate structure are the key elements of Pioneer’s growth strategy

Dimitris Papoulis, Pioneer Marine's chief operating officer, has been appointed chief executive officer

Taking advantage of the company’s highly skilled personnel and the innovative corporate structure, Pioneer Marine has managed to build up a modern homogenous fleet of 25 vessels within a very short period of time and establish close relationships with reputable 3rd parties and bankers. The Chief Operating Officer of the partly Oslo listed company Mr. Dimitris Papoulis explains exclusively in ELNA VI the commercial and management objectives and describes Pioneer’s approach in the new environmental regulations and future challenges of shipping.

M/V “Orion Bay”, 30.000dwt, built 2012

– Describe the greatest milestones of your company.

– Good afternoon, I would like to briefly introduce our company. Pioneer Marine was incorporated in 2013 and in 2014 it was listed in the Norwegian OTC. The majority of Pioneer Marine shareholders are US based. Currently, we own a fleet of 18 drybulk geared vessels which is consisted of 17 handies and 1 supramax. We also provide commercial management services to 3rd party companies for another 7 handies, therefore we manage a total fleet of 25 vessels.
I have been with the Company since its inception back in 2013 and have been leading the chartering department ever since. Pioneer Marine is a relatively young company but during its lifetime has experienced various challenges and changes. The Company was initially based in Singapore supported by a small team based in Athens. Our first challenge as a Company was to build a structure to support the operation of a fleet consisting of 14 vessels within a very short period, less than six months. This is was a time-consuming process, however we managed to deliver the required results with dedication and personal effort from each and every one included in the Pioneer team.
Following the first couple of years, it became necessary for our Owners to consolidate the operations of Pioneer within one office. The Greek office was ideal to lead the Company into the next phase. Therefore in 2017 I was appointed SVP General Manager and with close cooperation with the new management team we concentrated on how to enhance
and further evolve Pioneer by focusing on the Greek office, promoting Greek professionals with deep knowledge of the shipping industry and establishing relationships with reputable professional third parties and bankers based in Europe.

We managed to refinance all our maturing loans with far more lucrative terms and increased our fleet with additional modern tonnage. The above actions combined with the recovering markets proved to be the required recipe and the fourth quarter of 2017 became our first profitable year since inception. Since then the Company has been doing better every passing quarter with profitable results and well noted achievements. One of our biggest successes was the installation of the BWTS en-route, attributable to the innovative and well-structured in-house technical department of Pioneer.

– Do you expect that the market will improve after 2020? Are you
well positioned to take advantage of the market potential?

– We except a slow start of the year. On the other hand, we also see
real worries from the charterers side about ships compliance with new
bunker regulations as well as the expected increased cost that will
make the more efficient ships more competitive, so we believe there
will be opportunities to secure good employment.

– Can you refer to the trading capabilities and chartering policy of your fleet?

– Our ships and our people meet all criteria and are able to trade the fleet to its optimum. Our strategy is trading mainly in the Atlantic basin with a balanced ratio of period cover and spot trading, as market conditions prevail.

– How do you cope with the new environmental regulations of BWTC and sulphur 2020 cap? Describe the efforts of your company to meet the increasing industry standards.

• Regarding BWTS:
i) We are currently in progress of this project and have successfully completed the installation on board our first lady MV Emerald Bay. ( en – route with no off hire cost). This was the result of extensive planning, including 3D scanning of engine room, preparation well before the project commencement and our technical department day to
day involvement on board the vessel throughout the project.

ii) We have already agreed to purchase the system from a reputable Greek supplier and our intention is to supply the same system throughout the fleet so as to utilize on board experience for our crew and enjoy economies of scale as far as the contracted price is
concerned.

Regarding Sulphur cap:
i) Our strategy is to supply compliant fuel and not install scrubbers on board.
ii) We believe that the price differential will eventually minimize between the High Sulphur Fuel and the Compliant Fuel.
iii) We are well ahead in the completion of this project since all our vessel are ready with clean tanks to receive the new fuel and almost half of our fleet have already been supplied with fuel meeting the 2020 regulation.

-Do you have access to alternative financing sources such as leasing facilities, export credits, capital market equity, PEs etc? Have you diversified your fleet in more than one sectors of shipping?

– Our major shareholder is US based, thus since our inception we had good access to both traditional and alternative sources despite being a startup. However, we must note that after being established in the market for the last 6 years we are now in the position to pick and choose our financing strategy. We focus on the geared sector and more specifically in the Handy size vessels. We have specialized in this trade and have built strong relationships with the major grain houses worldwide. Good results combined with transparency attract attention of third-party owners. Having said that, Pioneer apart from its own fleet currently has seven vessels under commercial management. Third party owners have trusted us since we are committed to adhere to the highest standards of ethical, moral and legal business conduct and we have developed and adopted an ethics framework (Standards of Business Conduct & Ethics) that cultivates an ethical working
environment and demonstrates our commitment to good corporate governance.

– Have you invested in social responsibility activities to promote the
image of shipping in the public opinion?

– Our Company annually actively participates in various fund-raising activities, either through supporting local organizations or worldwide movements.

-Explain the company’s policy to promote gender quality in the
employment of office’s personnel?

-50% of our employees are female. 15 colleagues make up half of Pioneer Marine’s total staff in Greece. Female employment is spreading in the maritime world. However, Pioneer Marine is at the for front of that trend. It employs women in all parts of the business, such as legal, operations, and marine accounting.

Source: Elnavi