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Doing business with an open heart and mind

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As Vopak celebrates its 400th anniversary, Tank Storage Magazine speaks to its CEO about how it is positioning itself for the next century in tank storage

The key to success when conducting business in international markets is to do business with an open heart and an open mind according to Vopak CEO Eelco Hoekstra.
Since the 17th century, the world’s leading independent storage terminal operator has abided by two core business principles, which have been crucial in its continuing success in the market.
The first has been to have an open mind when conducting business in international markets by understanding different cultures and perspectives to build mutually beneficial relationships and the second is to establish clear rules and regulations and dissolve trade barriers.
Hoekstra explains that Vopak’s ongoing business strategy is based on three pillars – growth leadership, where assets are in the right locations for future trade flows, operating assets based on safety, service and costs and finally provide services relevant to your customer base.
Looking to business over the next 100 years, he explains that in order to stay ahead in this industry, the company seeks to stay ahead of the competition by closely examining and predicting global trade flows of its key commodities.
‘When we look at developing our global assets, the decision on where to invest depends on how the world will change and progress. Five years ago we embarked on a journey to become better than average on predicting global flows.
‘We have developed a framework on where we believe supply and demand will fall. We will continuously keep a profile of terminals we believe are relevant for the future.’
The company’s 2014 divestment strategy has enabled the company to fully optimise its terminal portfolio and plough the funds accumulated in areas it has identified as part of its future growth strategy.
So far, nine smaller terminals have been divested in Europe and the US out of a total of 15 globally.

In 2015, 2.2 million m3 of new capacity was commissioned, notably in Malaysia’s Pengerang Independent Terminals phase 1C, a joint venture terminal in Hainan in China as well as a chemical terminal in Jubail, Saudi Arabia.
Once complete, all other projects that have been announced will swell the company’s global capacity by 4.2 million m3 up to 2019.
Future investments for Vopak will be generally governed by four categories that have been identified as part of the operator’s growth strategy.

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