Marine Armor System, breaking down the barriers of internationalisation
The world’s leading supplier of anti-piracy systems in ships has its headquarter in Gran Canaria.
In the last decade, terrorist attacks and acts of piracy have multiplied, what have caused higher maritime transport prices in certain geographical zones, threatening ships and crew security and tolling on human lives in the most unfortunate cases. To reduce this maritime violence scale, Marine Armor System has developed a non-lethal defence against intrusions, robberies and armed attacks on ships, based on terrestrial systems developed by the Collbaix Company. All Marine Armor System needs for the comprehensive protection of a ship, a mega yacht or an offshore platform, its crew and its load is one man, one button and ten seconds.
"At the level of internationalisation, it is easier to bring to the global market those unique, exclusive and high value-added products that, besides, have suitable services of distribution, installation and after-sale, regardless of the final destination country."
What is the principal activity of the company at present?
Marine Armor System, based in the Canary Islands (Spain), is world leader in naval armour focusing its activity on the manufacturing of anti-piracy and anti-intrusion security systems, protection against kidnapping and passive protection against armed robbery in ships, mega yachts and offshore platforms.
The commercialised systems offer various types of ballistic and anti-intrusion protection with certifications up to FB6 level (ballistic certification), EF4 (anti-broke certification), hurricane certification (winds up to 200 km/hour), CE marking and fire protection. These systems are economical, easy-to-install during the operation of the ship and easily integrated in the wheelhouses systems.
Since 2005, Marine Armor systems have been tested and installed in all types of vessels, without providing any failure and supplying a real, effective and non-lethal protection system for ships, crew and load.
Marine Armor System has a specific variation for yachts and luxury cruises called Armor System for Yachts, with a wide variety of finishes that allows the integration of the security system with any decoration style, being hidden in the ship structure when it is not activated.
Why do you think foreign markets are interesting for business development?
We cannot give specific information about the current projects we have due to our commitment to the protection of our clients’ information. But, globally, we can affirm our projects in development are focused on extremely conflictive zones as for maritime piracy, like Somalia, Nigeria or the Philippines.
Our customers are private shipowners, based in the most various countries, whose ships and offshore platforms work in dangerous zones and whose crew lives with insecurity and the continuous feeling their lives are in risk at any time.
At a corporate and international level, this year we have been finalists in the most prestigious international awards of the shipbuilding sector. Last June, we were nominated finalists in the “Seatrade Awards” in London, in the “Safety at Sea” category. Also, in September, we were finalists in the “SafetyatSea Awards” in the United Kingdom; in October, in the “Safety4Sea Awards” in Athens, Greece; and we are presently waiting for the resolution of other high standing international and national awards. All nominations and prizes received reward the quality of our systems and the considerable efforts Marine Armor System does daily to become a company world leader in the manufacturing of naval security systems.
Which products or services do you think are more interesting to internationalise?
At the level of internationalisation, it is easier bring to the global market those unique, exclusive and high value-added products that, besides, have suitable services of distribution, installation and after-sale, regardless of the final destination country. The cost of exclusive products, without competition or alternative solution, that have an effect on the final customer, will take second place due to the inelastic product demand. However, those products or services without this exclusiveness or high needed will be subject to higher elasticity demand that, consequently, will blow back on higher resources consumption by the company to bring them to the final market. It does not mean that the exportation of any product is not possible or interesting, but the market analysis and strategies shall be even more exhaustive, objective and reliable. Besides, the product or service internationalisation will entail a higher expenditure of resources to get it. In any case, I will remember the sentence: “there is not impossible market, but inappropriate procedure to reach it”.
Which problems have you faced at the time of going overseas? How have you solved them? Have you been supported?
Once you decide to internationalise, the first problem is the typical initial questions: where, how, when, why, is it the best option? It is a critical moment that will need a deep, long study and analysis on which the company’s internationalisation success will depend. After that, the internationalisation strategy will rely on each company and on their commercialised products and services. In some cases, new headquarters will be opened in other countries, while in other cases, other various commercial actions will be done. Surely today, to have a website is vital to publicize the company and the services offered globally; it has to be adapted to the means and countries where the company pretends to expand.
In the case of Marine Armor System, the internationalisation was product of a series of joint actions, an intensive commercial work coupled with a marketing focused on the final customer through computerized methods, meetings with potential customers, advertisement in the media of the sector, contacts in the shipbuilding sector and, of course, the exclusivity, quality and reliability of our products. All of that linked to a global demand of systems which cover the need for security on boats, as a consequence of the exponential number of terrorist and piracy attacks during the last decade.
During the internationalisation phase, Marine Armor System has continuously faced with problems as costs of exportations, customs formalities, local legislations, technical problems, the complexity of the shipbuilding sector, language, need of technical systems development to adapt them to the marine environment, and the most various issues. But, the greatest challenge we faced was, and is the client acquisition, marketing and the international commercial activity.
The shipbuilding sector is complex, very expanded, with big pyramid structures and a multitude of partners and involved companies, so it is really difficult to get in contact with the person or people who decide if installing our products, as well as the consensus for it. The persistence of our manager, Mr. Francisco Contreras, at critical times was crucial. Once projects were launched, the impact was high, Marine Armor System came forward as an effective solution in the shipbuilding sector and positioned itself as the world leading company in anti-piracy systems and systems against armed and/or terrorist attacks.
Institutions have supported and collaborated with us at all times, in addition to provide all the information they had. We have been able to aim for various grants, neither too many nor wide enough to greatly facilitate internationalisation, but that have helped us to reduce the cost of the process. Doubtlessly, institutional support is key to companies’ internationalisation and an essential tool.
Have you achieved any attainment at the international level?
During the last decade, Marine Armor System’s products and security systems have been installed in various types of boats, from big luxury yachts to offshore platforms, including big drill ships, cable-ship, supply vessels, etc.
Due to the international intrinsic character of the shipbuilding sector, Marine Armor System works on the five continents. The main commercial activity happens at the international market, so it is inconceivable to think on work only at a national or local level.
Has internationalisation been easy? How did your experience start?
Internationalisation is not a simple, cheap, fast process, it requires a considerable financial outlay and the development of analysis and very accurate marketing strategies, in many cases, erroneous. The cost of any error is multiplied in international markets, not to mention the continuous problems arising from different cultures, tariff barriers, demanding and complex contracts of carriage, local protectionist policies and language barriers.
In the specific case of Marine Armor System, internationalisation has not been a simple process at all, but a fruit of a whole decade of effort, investment, perseverance, constant work and continuous improvement.
Why would you recommend the internationalisation?
The global market has unthinkable turnovers for a company focused on a traditional local market, for what having part of it seems a great economic interest compared to usual local transactions.
Moreover, it is necessary to add the own profits from an economy of scale and the rise of the number of clients and sales, what can originate a considerable saving of production and operating costs that will increase corporate profits.
Aside from economic data, internationalisation will allow the company diversification, so it can access to various markets, in a better or worse position as period, but the company will not be limited to the current state of an only local market. As an example, during the last time of crisis, turnover in Europe was really low, while in the Middle East was spectacularly high.
Besides, the impact and the push of the company’s corporate image will be notable, bearing in mind that the access to the international market will provide new ideas, solutions and points of view, that is, improve the company’s know-how.
Jose Zapata López
International Business Manager
Marine Armor System
Tel: +34 928 183 596
Translated by Kamar Amougai Álamo, February 21 th 2018