Welcome to the December edition of Stolten. This issue – with its theme of customer centricity – confirms that achieving service and performance excellence really is all about people.
As we end our financial year and look back at the Company’s accomplishments, the obvious thing that stands out is our strong financial performance. But what I am even more pleased with and most proud of is the people in our Company.
Yes, of course the market has been with us, but what we have achieved this past year is the result of thousands of small decisions our teams have made, working together across different divisions, locations and even businesses, which have put us in a position to deliver the results that we are now seeing – for our Company and, just as importantly, for our customers.
Making good decisions, being disciplined, thinking long term, staying focused, not giving up – it has all added up and is now paying off. But, like many companies, inflation and the increased cost of living is not surprisingly a big concern, and our employees are reaching out to the Company for help. We are addressing this challenge in a number of ways, and this is important because the wellbeing and security of our employees is crucial to the continued success and service excellence of our businesses.
"The hard work of our teams to deliver uninterrupted service to our customers confirms to me that our people are what makes us the market leaders in what we do." Niels G. Stolt-Nielsen, Chief Executive Officer
With this in mind, I would like to mention the principals of our compensation strategy. We aim to pay above the median in each country where we operate. We use global and local consultants to help us benchmark with comparable companies for every position. We look at inflation, the employment market and the turnover amongst our employees. Based on these figures we adjust. We share our profits through our profit-sharing programme, and salaries are adjusted annually and sometimes biannually based on the factors described above.
So, when we announce our salary adjustment each year, it is the result of a thorough process, which has been reviewed and approved by our compensation committee and which we believe is fair for both the employees and the Company.
Our global commitment
After three years of collective focus on our global #GoingFurther strategy, we have brought the Company to a new level of operational excellence and agility, which I am delighted to see is benefitting our customers in many ways. In this edition of Stolten, you will read how Stolt Tankers is partnering with customers to meet sustainability challenges, Stolthaven Terminals has embedded a customer-centric culture across all aspects of its business and Stolt Tank Containers is developing innovative digital solutions to make life easier for its customers.
Meanwhile, Stolt Sea Farm has diversified its product range to meet its customers’ changing needs in an uncertain market. And supporting all this is our commitment to cybersecurity, which allows us to become increasingly interconnected and leverage data safely to develop better products and more streamlined commercial relationships.
As you have seen from the news and insights on our website and the articles you will read in this issue of Stolten, we have received several customer awards this year for our health and safety performance, our sustainability achievements and for our consistent service during and after the pandemic, which caused so many challenges in the supply chain for everyone. It makes me immensely proud when we receive such awards. The hard work of our teams to deliver uninterrupted service to our customers confirms to me that our people are what makes us the market leaders in what we do.
Of course, none of this would be possible without the commitment to collaboration, innovation and change that our customers and other partners have shown, and I want to thank all of them for their continued support. We simply cannot deliver customer-focused services without them.
Now it is important that we do not lose our focus. With our strong financial performance, it is natural to not have the same focus on cost to serve as we have had during a weak market. We must remind ourselves that we operate in a cyclical business and that, unfortunately, the current strong market will have an end, so we need to have the same sharp focus on the cost side of the equation.
Although I am optimistic about the next few years, there continues to be so much uncertainty in the world making it very difficult to predict our market conditions. We will therefore continue to focus on improving the efficiency of our operations and managing our balance sheet conservatively to make sure our debt levels continue to decline and that we always have ample liquidity. Both steps are equally important in allowing us to deliver the reliable, agile, innovative and integrated services our customers will continue to need in these uncertain times.
Thank you to all our employees for your outstanding service and loyalty. I hope you have an opportunity to be with family and friends and enjoy some well-deserved rest during the holiday season. Special thanks goes out to all the Stolt employees who will be away from their families at this time. Our ships will continue to sail and our crews along with them, and our terminals, depots and fish farms will continue to be fully operational.
I wish everyone a Merry Christmas and a prosperous (and collaborative!) 2023.
Niels G. Stolt-Nielsen
London, December 2022