Optimistic that it can deliver a skills transfer system in the provision of marine logistics services to equip locals to run its operations here, United States-based marine transportation company Harvey Gulf has set up an office in Guyana.
“We are hiring locals so that they can answer our questions,” Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Harvey Gulf Shane Guidry told Sunday Stabroek in an interview last week.
Guidry explained that company currently specialises in providing Offshore Supply and Multi-Purpose Support Vessels for deep-water operations and has some 60 vessels in its fleet.
With a commitment of about 12 of those vessels to serve the Guyana and Trinidad markets, the Harvey Gulf Chairman explained that the vessels would see direct employment for about 125 persons. He hopes that those persons would be employees from this country since the company has a system to train locals to man its operations as it focuses heavily on local content. He said that to train personnel would require additional funding since two crews would have to be simultaneously paid. Nonetheless, the company is confident that the investment will pay off and will train locals until it believes that they are equipped enough to do the work on their own.
“We are not rushing. The key thing for us is our people. We need to know how we can better grow with the Guyanese people, how we can better serve the Guyanese people and work with the Guyanese people. If we just showed up with a boat in the area, and operate and not know all these things it just sends the wrong message. The message to send to the Guyanese people is ‘We will work with you, we will only work safe and no matter who asks, we won’t do anything unsafe and we want operational excellence,’” Guidry said.
“We don’t have any work here as yet. Of course, we would like to and think we would, but we do things a little different. We like to go to a country, establish ourselves and get to know the culture, understand who we can hire and bring back to the US and train to operate the way Harvey operates for the last 70 years, and feel comfortable we can service our needs and service the customer,” he added
Three positions will be filled this month—a country manager, clerk and a safety and maintenance manager—as the company first seeks to know the culture of the people here and assess what opportunities are available before focusing on securing contracts.
But Guidry said that training locals to take over the operations would be key as he pointed out that when the company started in Trinidad it had only a 20 percent local workforce and that quickly went up to 50 percent and after a few months it is now at 70 percent.
“We want to have that here and I believe it can happen. We will train them and by six months, yes I believe by six months they will understand how we operate and our safety codes and the emphasis on safety,” he said.
“We want to outperform our competitors. We don’t want anyone calling us to ask, ‘Why is your boat broken down for three days and nobody is fixing it?’ If it breaks down, we want to be able to fix it in three hours and to do that you have to know what infrastructure is in place where to get the parts, the people and services. That is what we want to learn from the people,” he added.
At Harvey, he boasted, the company just hit an incident-free milestone and he wants to continue this record in Guyana. “In five and half years we haven’t hurt anyone. We want to make sure we have that safety culture built in, which is important to us. We also want to make sure we have our local partners trained in how we like to maintain our vessels because we don’t want down time. We like to do preventative maintenance on our vessels to make sure our vessels run on time and on contract. Once we get that part down, we will get into hiring additional persons to split up the maintenance division as boats arrive,” he said.
Guidry pointed out that the company will have a procurement person “to buy enough local content as they possibly can” and once Harvey Gulf learns Guyana’s culture and what is and is not available, it will also help in bringing other US investments here to fill the voids so that Guyanese could benefit.
“Clearly we are here because of the large discoveries of oil but we are also here to do it right. We are going to be a good partner first with the locals and the country and then we will bring vessels in and begin operations… We believe that you need to be set up first for success or else you will fail,” he stressed.
The Harvey Gulf CEO is not afraid of the competition here as Guidry said competition drives higher standards.
“When we go into an area and they get one of our vessels, not only does it outperform but it puts pressure on the competition to perform better and it is better for the oil company,” he said.
The company’s mission is to provide “our customers excellent marine service and value while causing no harm to people, assets, or the environment and maintaining a culture of professionalism and mutual respect.”
According to a company’s profile, “Harvey Gulf achieves superior performance through designing and equipping its vessels to meet their customers’ current and anticipated needs for their deep-water operations. This results in providing customers with the largest cargo capacities for offshore supply services and greatest capability and flexibility for offshore construction services. Harvey Gulf also designs and equips some of its offshore supply vessels for dual operation as dive/construction and mooring line support vessels, affording greater flexibility to its customers.”