EB: Stena Line runs one of the most comprehensive ferry networks. How does the company aim to tackle the future in order to keep its vanguard position?
Ron Gerlach: We keep our constant focus on reliability, frequency, pricing and service orientation, while at the same time vamping up our structure. Ferry operations are truly superior to road traffic in environmental terms. We have put sustainability first in our company strategy and introduced a number of projects that will help us become even more sustainable. Our Stena Germanica is the first ship to run exclusively on methanol, which we believe is a truly sustainable fuel for the shipping industry. Together with our partners, we advocate intermodal freight concepts to shift cargo from road to sea. Furthermore, our technical department has investigated wind power plants on board and battery-powered ferries.
EB: We understand that Stena Line is busy implementing new strategic plans. What restructuring measures are you introducing at the moment?
Ron Gerlach: Up to now we have managed two subsidiaries in Germany, which we will merge into one organization in Rostock with effect from 2017. There we will have a strong regional management team with compact staff structures and full responsibility for all results on our routes. We will move closer to the customer and understand the regional market better. Nevertheless, we can still fall back on support from our headquarters in Gothenburg, Sweden.
EB: Will your main focus on freight operations prevail?
Ron Gerlach: No doubt, most freight operators rely on our transport network, which includes 34 ships operating on 22 routes from 35 ports. The advantage for our customers lies in our network sales, whereby they can, for example, use our routes from the UK to the Netherlands and further on to Kiel and Sweden. They know what to expect from us: a dense network, punctuality, reliability, high on-board standards and well-maintained vessels.
EB: Whath aspects are important to private passengers when choosing to travel with Stena Line?
Ron Gerlach: On our routes to Sweden – Kiel-Gothenburg, Sassnitz- Trelleborg and Rostock-Trelleborg – the number of passengers is growing quickly. Passengers value the trip as part of their holiday experience, which I take as proof of our service quality. And they know they can rely on our high safety standards.
EB: What is the impact of staffing on your ships?
Ron Gerlach: Only a good corporate climate ensures staff commitment. Despite its size, with a workforce of 30,000 people worldwide, the Stena Group is still managed by the Olsson family from Gothenburg. We take our corporate slogan ‘We care’ seriously. I enjoy working for a global company that has not forgotten its local roots and the interests of its staff, and is open to developing its committed personnel.