Mr. Dave Roosen
Tell us a bit about your background, your country of origin and how you got into shipping & chartering?
My nationality is Belgian, and I have been in the shipping & chartering business since 1990. I started my career in a small Antwerp chartering-brokerage company, mainly in coasting brokerage booking about 4 smaller shipments per week, from where I kicked off and I caught the shipping bug.
After 23 years working mainly in the Antwerp shipping Industry, as well as 5 years in the Netherlands, and becoming a bit bored of bigger company structures where I was having a managerial position for quite some years, I decided to take on a new challenge and start my own company with my wife who has also been in the shipping industry for over 20 years now.
What made me become so interested in this industry is actually the fact that I have a shipping family behind me for three generations. My late grandfather was the co-founder of an Antwerp shipping company in the 1950’s (still going strong today), he traveled around the world and later in his career became a maritime judge.
Also, there is my father who today is an ‘old rat’ in the industry still managing his own project company at the age of 70. He was one of the last Belgian-flag shipowners of multipurpose ships at the time, he spent a long time in Nigeria and traveled the globe as well spending the whole of his career in project shipments, mainly overseas.
Even my mother was working on chartering of Panamax tonnage in the 1970’s for a short while till I came into this world at which time she devoted her attention to me. I was and still am her active little son 😉 So one can imagine that I have heard stories and met shipping people in the family house since I was a little boy.
I was even in the newspaper with my father and the Nigerian president at the age of 5, showing off a big project, standing in Antwerp port, but that’s 42 years and 80 kilos ago 😉
In lieu of that relic, you can see me in the following photo running enthusiastically in the Antwerp port at the age of 11 (1982) to inspect a wagon going aboard a Spliethoff ship to Greece 😉
My brother also got the shipping bug, enjoying his career for over 20 years already as a manager at the all-weather terminal in Antwerp. I trust this explains enough where my interest comes from.
Who owns the company R&B Global Projects? When was the company established?
The company is owned/managed and run by our small couple-team only, which was a deliberate choice from the start and we strongly intend to keep it like this as we feel that being our own boss still has big benefits and can limit us from having the sometimes (if you allow me to say so 😉 useless meetings we both experienced in bigger organisations during the past. Now we have the time almost 24/7 to be on the job, even during weekends if needed, whereby quick/swift discussions/decision can be taken on the dinner table at any time we feel like!
We started the company on May 1st, 2013 (we began with a day off 🙂 and suddenly we have been in the market for 5 years, with more pleasure and success than ever before.
Is there a particular reason why you have chosen Croatia as a base for your business? Is there also a lot of project cargo business into the Adriatic currently?
The choice of Croatia became obvious since the very first time I visited the country for business in 1999, invited by our good partner at that time (who unfortunately has passed away), to effectively organize monthly shipments of offshore drilling equipment for the Croatian National Oil Company, for whom we arranged almost monthly shipments of around 10.000 cbm with Clipper vessels, mostly but not always from/to the Croatian mainports.
By visiting the country more and more in the years after, with a frequency of few times per year, we established some really good personal and business contacts, and became ‘in love’ with the country and its more relaxed, Meditteranean working atmosphere (very underestimated if we look at it today, we need to work much harder then ever before but its very different indeed).
So at certain stage in life, we needed to make a choice, and much to the surprise of many Belgian contacts who said “what the hell to do in Croatia”, we made the step 😉
Today I can say it was the best choice we ever made.
Project business-wise we didn’t focus at all on Croatian/Balkan business, as we realize(d) very well that this is an impossible job as a foreigner. Business is/was created globally, only we were domiciled in Croatia, which was the case for sure for 80-90% in the first 2 years.
After that, however, don’t ask me why as I never intended for it to happen, more and more global players found their way to our small team and the very dedicated personal service we give. The latter may be the exact reason for which we attracted them, as well as having the advantage of speaking German and French fluently…I don’t know for sure, but this is what happened.
Were we prepared for it? In the first 2 months, I don’t think we were 100% ready, but we learned quickly and I traveled around the Balkans. Today I would say that about 30% of our business is sourced to/from the Balkans.
I am of the opinion that when thinking outside the box there is some good potential project business in the Balkan area, be it many times financed by outside (Government) organisations, but I think it’s developing well. We are not the company chasing things like the bigger ones do, but tend to wait until projects are in the final execution phase, and that’s where we can come in if clients are happy to use our expertise.
What are the advantages by contacting and dealing with you as opposed to other competitors of which there are many I believe?
I think in the business where we move ourselves, there is not a lot of competition at all. It must be said, unfortunately, that companies and people with the in-depth knowledge of ship chartering and project business, are not so numerous in Croatia.
In my humble opinion, the advantage of contacting us is the very highly valued, personalized and one-to-one service which we aim to offer with our small team.
We are not dependant on high overhead costs, we mainly work open-book and on a NETT basis with a separate and transparent margin agreement to the mutual benefit of our small portfolio of customers. We can jump in the car where needed immediately, we have clean claim records since we started, and most of all, we don’t deal with politics which are highly explored in the Balkan transport industry 😉
We let the world live and keep our hands on the job, just try us.
Explain to us the differences between a project freight forwarder, a broker, as I believe some of our readers are not familiar with the advantages that they could get by involving a broker instead of talking themselves to the shipowner. Sometimes freight forwarders act as their own brokers too I imagine? Clarify it for us the way you see it.
A project freight forwarder is someone who will usually take entire project moves from A-to-Z under his wings, whereby he will endeavour to arrange all chains of the logistics as requested by his client, such as but not limited to pre and on-carriages (rail, truck, sea, river, air), port activities, shipping, and usually deliver to door!
‘Extras’ which we handle as well, and depending on each forwarder separately, is the surveying of the goods where needed, as well as packing, cargo insurance, etc..
I must admit that I have ‘tasted’ the project freight forwarding business since the last 13 years and I like it a lot, maybe, who knows, even more than pure chartering/brokerage…so today I can say I handle both 50/50 ratio.
A chartering broker, however, is someone who is focussed on and has in-depth knowledge of the numerous chartercontracts (so-called charterparties), whereby the shipment as such is mainly handled.
“What happens in and around the ship” we could say. Obviously, it is always an advantage to talk to a broker, rather than direct to a shipowner, since a broker will assist in finding the correct ship/size for the correct cargo/commodity, but also it’s his job to use the skills in negotiating the right price and terms needed. This being actually only a start, because ship and cargo-chartering is such a specific task, which is full of small and special terms as well as abbreviations often self-invented between brokers, that not only a broker has a vital role in the negotiation process resulting into the ‘deal’ by signing a chartercontract from both sides, but mostly and especially also his task becomes important during the ship-voyage or stays in the ports, where actually the list is endless to mention how many misinterpretations and misconceptions can occur, whereby each party will obviosuly defend his own interest.
The broker is there to steer that in the right direction and make sure the terms are followed as they should be, independently and objectively.
A lot of frustrations from the clients’ and/or shipowners’ side can be avoided like this, where the broker comes in to filter that and lead it to a mutual understanding for all parties.
My philosophy has always been not to be a ‘postbox’ broker as many are, but to be on the side of the party for whom I act as a broker at all times until the end of the contract.
And I am humbly proud to say that, being fed with the spoon since a little boy in chartering, no many secrets are still around the corner for me in chartering/brokerage and its contracts.
Talking about abbreviations, try this most famous one and call me in case you can’t find the meaning 😉 ….FDEOSDNRVAOCLONL
Can you provide us with some examples of cargoes that you have handled or been responsible for getting to their destination?
Of course, there are too many to mention since 1990 but just to name a few:
– 4500 cbm mini-mining wagons from Vladivostok to Guayaquil (that was actually my very first one in 1990, I must mention that one of course, a broker will never forget 😉
– Plenty on and offshore rigging equipment into Lebanon during the 1990’s
– The World’s biggest crawler crane to South Africa
– Wet-towage of various floating objects/platforms into Libya
– IMO-1 explosive dangerous goods as full aircharters to South-Africa
– Turnkey project to Serbia for the National Electricity company
– Numerous dismantled ‘yellow’ machinery, dump trucks, wheel loaders around the globe by sea
– Fragile modules for house and hospital building by sea into Russia and Eritrea
– Aid-cargoes into all the stan countries (Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, etc ..) both by air and road
– Biggest road transport ever done in Serbia
– Various power-packs, generators, and foundation rings for the windmill industry in Europe
– Over 15 transformers into Qatar for FIFA Worldcup 2022
– Locomotives and wagons (as well as the moulds) into Colombia and Morocco
– Goldmine project into Brazil (recent award)
and so on …
Croatia is a beautiful country how do you find it living there? Any good spots to recommend for our readers if they plan to visit Croatia?
Of course, I am privileged, loving the region so much ….but we have it all!
We have the party-islands in summer for the youngsters, we have the clean sea, we have the mountains with snow for winter sports, we have the pure nature for hiking/biking and the adventurous types, we have a very big inland part which is full of culture and history often highly underestimated but absolutely gorgeous to see.
We have of course over 1000 islands where many of them are connected with easy-going ferries but most of them best admirable from the waterside, meaning that sailing tourism is amongst the most popular in Croatia, we also have the rocky beaches in every bay of the islands and mainland that are not too commercialized….and relaxation is key.
I would say that my favorite spots are the Dalmatian islands of Korčula and Peljesac, but also Losinj island further north and the Istrian province…
We are also blessed to still enjoy the pure and honest domestic food products, produced by the local population that has a rich family inheritance (like olives, fresh fish, garden vegetables, fruits..), not to forget the rich variety of rakhias (strong liquors) and the wines that are (unfortunately) not enjoyed so much outside of Croatia but are of super quality and many times awarded by recognized wine lovers.
We also have a lot of (too much) tourism in the summertime, but I am not sure if you need to see that …I love to see them come, but I even love more to see them go 😉
Last but not least, we always have time for coffee, so let us know when you come and the coffee is on us!
No doubt some of our readers will be interested to contact you after reading this interview how to get in touch with you?
You can always reach me on my smartphone, as my wife says this is my second (or maybe first) love because everything is on it including my emails, Whatsapp, Viber, Snapchat, phone, SMS, Skype, Facebook, Linkedin, …..;-)
Jokes aside, I can be reached at:
R&B Global Projects Ltd. Croatia
Mr. Dave Roosen Director
Address: Poljanska cesta 58a, 51414 Ičići (Opatija Riviera)
Office phones: +385 (0)51 704 711 or +385 (0)51 704 712
Mobile: +385 (0)99 203 99 90
(including Whatsapp, Viber, SMS)
Emails: firstname.lastname@example.org or
Linkedin / Facebook / Twitter