The group joins the likes of Thome Shipmanagement, D/S Norden, J. Lauritzen and Wilhelmsen Ship Services in committing to Responsible Supply Chain Management (RSCM) policies. We spoke to Ignace Van Meenen, CEO of Rickmers Group and Saurish Nandi, Vice President for Procurement and IMPA Ambassador about why now was the perfect time for the company to make RSCM and CSR a top priority.
Why have you chosen to join IMPA ACT?
Ignace Van Meenen (IVM): Rickmers Group conducts business centred around the core values passion, leadership and responsibility. The IMPA ACT initiative supports Rickmers in being a reliable partner for their suppliers and customers.
Saurish Nandi (SN): Rickmers has always been a responsible ship owner and ship manager and has participated in all industry initiatives which contribute to forming a responsible supply chain network. Hence when IMPA announced its IMPA ACT initiative Rickmers was keen to sign on. I had taken part in the IMPA ACT forum in London in September 2014 and was convinced after the discussions that Rickmers would benefit tremendously from this initiative.
How will joining IMPA ACT change the way you work?
IVM: IMPA ACT will support Rickmers in continuing a structured approach to a reliable and sustainable supply chain management.
SN: Rickmers’ philosophy is to engage with vendors who partake in the company’s vision to be a pioneer in the field of maritime services. Long-term partnerships and high-quality standards are expected from vendors who partner with Rickmers. IMPA ACT will reinforce these principles and enable Rickmers to have a more structured approach in identifying the right vendors who can partner the company in the responsible supply chain journey.
Do you have any existing CSR/RSCM policies? How long have you been working with them and what have you achieved with them so far?
IVM: As a family-owned company with more than 185 years’ tradition, corporate social responsibility has always played an important role for Rickmers in conducting business.
SN: Rickmers does a lot in terms of CSR and also contributes effectively to have an RSCM network, however we do not have a defined CSR or RSCM policy so far. IMPA ACT will guide us in framing our RSCM policy for the future.
Long term, what benefit do you see IMPA ACT having on Rickmers and the wider industry?
IVM: Rickmers expects that a wider application of IMPA ACT will deliver more transparency and reliability in the maritime supply chain.
SN: Rickmers has always been working with supply chain partners who demonstrate capabilities at par with our expected standards. We prefer to call it the “Rickmers Standard” and we are quite proud of being able to maintain the same with our clients as well as with the vendors. So when a ship owner entrusts their vessel with Rickmers they can be assured that their assets are in very capable hands. In addition to being a top of the line ship manager we also offer full transparency into our systems and processes. IMPA ACT is one more step on the ladder for Rickmers being the best ship manager globally. IMPA ACT serves as an excellent platform to bring responsible vendors and committed ship managers and ship owners on one common platform. The shipping industry has always been a laggard in terms of committing to RSCM and IMPA ACT should open the doors for further initiatives and developments in this field. Standardisation of vendors, benchmarking, minimum levels of quality standards, are some of the key areas which we expect would be streamlined due to the IMPA ACT initiative.
You’re one of a number of major shipping companies to sign up. Is this is a sign of a shifting attitude in the shipping industry?
IVM: The maritime industry continues to experience a shift of direction and mindset towards more transparent and data-driven supplier and customer relations. IMPA ACT supports this change.
SN: The shipping industry is finally coming of age where companies are breaking the glass walls between them and trying to partner and participate in industry best practice initiatives. Companies have realised that it’s no longer feasible to only concentrate on the bottom line and turn a blind eye to the inherent problems which have been plaguing the industry for a long time. Instead they are willing to share experiences and this is a paradigm shift in the mindset and attitude.
Significantly, you are the first German shipping company to sign up to IMPA ACT. How important is that for the company?
IVM: Throughout the history of the company, Rickmers Group has been material in setting trends in the maritime industry and driving change like IMPA ACT.
What impact do you expect it to have on the German shipping market?
IVM: The German shipping industry has seen significant change by being exposed to more international competition. We believe that this trend will continue to be supported by initiatives like IMPA ACT.
Given the prominence of the German shipping market in the global industry, how important is Rickmers’ decision to commit to RSCM? Do you think it will have a global impact outside of your immediate supply chain?
IVM: Responsible Supply Chain Management has become an important element in the relationships with our customers. We believe that it will continue to become a requirement for business relationships between Tier A companies.
Interested in learning more about IMPA ACT, read all about the International Marine Purchasing Association's initiative at www.impa-act.org