Irwin Marine Services, a Shenzhen-based ship repair company serving the China market, is expanding with new business plans.
David Schaus, an ex-US Navy officer, co-founded Irwin Marine Services in 2010 as a voyage repair company concentrating on two-stroke main engine maintenance and steel repairs.
According to Schaus, while the company still provides steel repairs and engine maintenance, now it is adding pipe coating and pipe refurbishment services directly to dockyards and owners in China.
“In 2016 we had to prove the process resulted in quality, and cost savings while meeting tight docking deadlines. 2017 is about scaling up the process to create additional capacity and economies of scale,” says Schaus.
Irwin Marine Services will move into a considerably larger new workshop, which is able to handle typical pipe refurbishment and coating volumes from three vessels simultaneously in October.
The company is also expanding the variety of its products. “We are currently tooled up to rotationally line pipes with difficult geometries like elbows and t-branches up to an overall length of 3 m and diameters up to 700 mm. Based on our recent experience, we want to increase the overall length of the difficult geometry pipes we can handle up to 4 m,” Schaus says.
Schaus has noticed that dockyards in China keep moving up the value-added and quality “food chain” and part of moving up this “food chain” is offering better pipe coatings in repair dockyards.
“As managers learn that high quality pipe coatings are available during China repair dockings, we are continually challenged with more aggressive timelines and larger pipe volumes,” Schaus says.
Schaus admits that it is difficult to compete with major Chinese state owned enterprises in the sector.
“Our success is based on not competing with these SOEs. In the case of Irwin Marine Services, we will never be the biggest, but we will be the only company that can coat pipes on a tight docking deadline,” Schaus maintains.
Schaus hopes China continues to liberalise its economy and pivots from focusing resources on SOEs, so that more foreigners could see an opportunity to open small and medium enterprises in the country.