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Interview with Thanasis Pirinis – CEO of NAVALINK, the man who believed and reinvested in the Greek Shipping industry

Thanasis Pirinis is the entrepreneur behind world-class organisations, NAFTOSOL / NAVALINK, a great participant in Greece’s shipping development effort. With a lot of activity in Greece but for years and abroad, Mr. Pirinis managed to make ship repairs a Greek affair. He highlighted with his activity the opportunities that exist for Greek shipbuilders by moving with extroversion. So, let us find out who Thanasis Pirinisis is and his organisations.

We would like to get to know you better. What is your educational background and how long have you been in the shipping / ship repairing / drydocking industry?

I have a Bachelor’s degree from University of Surrey and I am a holder of a Master’s degree from University College London; both in the field of Marine Engineering and Naval Architecture.

I have been serving the ship repairing industry for the last 35 years from different positions. I started as a Design Engineer then moved on to Ship Repair Manager for many years before becoming CEO of NAFTOSOL in Piraeus and NAVALINK in Romania.

How would you describe the NAVALINK Vision and Mission? Please give us an overview of the services provided by the company.

NAVALINK’s mission is to offer full-range quality ship repair services achieving maximum client satisfaction and competitive prices under strict deadlines.

Our vision, to become the partner of choice when it comes to Dry Docking services in the Black Sea for vessels up to Panamax.

The company offers the entire spectrum of dry docking items, from high-pressure hydroblasting to main engine overhaulings and steel & piping renewals. Our fully-equipped electro-mechanical workshop inside Midia Shipyard allows us to cover every item on a vessel’s DD specification.

You founded NAVALINK in Romania as a Greek businessman and over the years, NAVALINK has become one of the top Ship Repair / Drydocking companies in Romania. How did you achieve this success? What makes NAVALINK different than its competitors?

My Greek nationality has indeed played a significant role in the success of the company. Being Greek and witnessing the unfortunate situation of ship repairs in Piraeus, Skaramanga and Perama first-hand, made me realise that Greek shipping would soon be in need of the same quality marine maintenance service outside Greece.

The fact that Greek ship owners could still trust another Greek in successfully dry docking their valuable assets with the security and support of an established shipyard such as Midia Shipyard made NAVALINK what the company is today.

What differentiates us from our competitors in the Black Sea is our ability to tap into the Greek craftmanship via our affiliated company NAFTOSOL, which has been leading the marine maintenance front in Piraeus for the past 3 decades. We can combine the Greek ingenuity with the cost-effectiveness of the Romanian workforce any time it is deemed necessary to successfully deliver a dry docking.

How much did NAVALINK grow in 2019 and what are the expectations in 2020 taking into consideration the current situation with COVID-19?

The company managed to grow significantly in 2019 following the very successful participation in Posidonia 2018, where new business cooperations were established. NAVALINK signed its first fleet-deal which saw 5 vessels from a major shipping company dry docked in Midia Shipyard throughout the year. This year is projected to be as good as 2019 with COVID-19 having only a minor impact on the company delivering its services.

Technology is growing faster than ever. What is your position regarding new technology on ships especially in repairing / dry docking? Do you think the Shipping Industry will be able to adapt? Do you follow technological developments as you continue to grow NAVALINK?

I have always endorsed innovation and new technologies that aim at higher efficiencies, lower costs and greener procedures. On this front, NAVALINK begun offering remotely controlled robotic hydroblasting in an effort to upgrade the entire procedure achieving great results.

The introduction of new regulations that are affecting the renewal of the world fleet, does this facilitate or impair your work?

Regulations that require new systems being implemented on vessels facilitate our work as such systems need to be carefully manufactured, sometimes pre-fabricated and then installed on board- all being the core of our services.

This year NAVALINK completes 15 years of life. Describe the greatest milestones of your company from 2005 to date.

The 1st and the 100th vessel dry docked in NAVALINK have been the greatest milestones of the company to date. Our next goal: 200 dry dockings!

What benefits does your organisation offer as incentives to join? Have you invested in social responsibility activities to promote the image of your company?

Our company offers a competitive benefits package to all employees; from our technicians to our executives. Social responsibility and sustainability are two relatively new business trends that we are actively looking to be part of in the most appropriate way possible for our industry.

What has been the Cyprus Shipping response to the services offered by your organisation and do you consider your progress in the Cyprus market to be successful?

NAVALINK’s services have been enjoyed by numerous shipping companies in Cyprus since the company’s establishment in 2005. The Cyprus market is very important in shipping and has been treated as a major player from the start. In fact, we are planning to visit Cyprus once again after the summer to nurture existing and explore new possibilities for our company.

The Cyprus Shipping Deputy Ministry and the Cyprus Shipping Chamber are trying their best to promote Cyprus to become an international hub for shipping. As a shipping related service provider will you consider opening an office in Cyprus?

Cyprus is an international hub for shipping where numerous high profile companies reside. This is the reason we recently established NAFTOSOL INTERNATIONAL in Limassol. This company belongs to our group of companies NAFTOSOL-NAVALINK and it shows our firm belief in the potential of the Cyprus shipping market.

By Stella Violari