At the 2019 Offshore Support Journal Conference & Awards in London, the Lifetime Achievement Award went to Rem founder Åge Remøy.
Although he said he is now ’more or less retired’, 67-year-old Mr Remøy has spent more than four decades in the shipping industry, beginning with a fishing trawler he bought in partnership with a few of his family members.
Given the longevity of his career and the cyclical nature of shipping and the offshore sector, the industry veteran has faced down his share of tough circumstances during his 40-plus year career. So, to get a fuller picture of the trajectory of Mr Remøy’s career along with insights about his family life and his plans moving forward, Riviera Maritime Media’s head of content Edwin Lampert spoke to Mr Remøy’s son Fredrik Remøy prior to the awards ceremony.
Introducing Mr Remøy, Mr Lampert recounted one harrowing story that has become part of the Remøy family lore, “This year’s winner is a man of the sea. He has been involved with seagoing vessels since the age of 16, but in fact today might never have happened. On one the voyages in his youth, the vessel Åge was sailing in nearly sank, and he nearly drowned."
Fortunately, for Mr Remøy he escaped and lived to tell the tale.
Mr Lampert also offered a glimpse back into the early beginnings of Mr Remøy’s shipping industry career, noting that it all started with a motoryacht and a love of fishing.
"He actually bought his first trawler back in 1978. It was an old corvette he converted into a shrimp trawler," Mr Lampert said. "And, together with friends and family, he financed the operation," Mr Lampert said.
The whole operation consisted of Mr Remøy’s 1940s-built vessel, which was purchased for Nkr6M (US$0.7M). And his partners in the venture included his father and his three brothers, one of whom, Stig, is also a well-known executive in the shipping industry who started Olympic Shipping and Olympic Subsea, among other fishing and offshore maritime companies.
The family grew up on Remøya, an island in a bridge-connected archipelago in the Norwegian municipality of Herøy. Mr Remøy’s father and grandfather were both fishing vessel masters there, and historically the region’s economy has been very closely linked with fishing. Given the family’s long ties to the region, its administrative centre Fosnavåg eventually became the headquarters for some of the family’s companies.
"My most important task at the moment is my family. We are… 18 altogether, 10 grandchildren, and that is the most important part of my life, today.”
"Fisheries have long been in [Mr Remøy’s] blood, and he maintained involvement in that industry even as he started building Rem Offshore in 2004," Mr Lampert said.
Throughout the 1980s and early 1990s, Mr Remøy’s group of partners made further investments within the fishing industry and eventually became involved in the offshore industry, continuing to forge what Mr Lampert called a "distinguished maritime path".
And, according to Mr Lampert "what marks this man out is the way, like a wave, he has ridden the ups and downs that have followed in the ensuing years."
"Between 2004 and 2014, Mr Remøy built 34 vessels, approximately three vessels a year, almost all of which were built in his native Norway. He built a strong, solid company and moved on from that company following the downturn, to create a second company which today has nine vessels, a mix of seismic, PSV and subsea… It may be by virtue of his being a chess player that he is able to anticipate the next move so adeptly,” Mr Lampert said.
After entering the offshore market in 2004 with his Rem Offshore company, Mr Remøy resigned from his duties as chief executive of the company in May 2016, and Rem Offshore announced it was merging with Solstad Offshore in July 2016. As a condition of the merger, Mr Remøy shifted over his controlling position in Rem into a significant voting interest in Solstad after the merger was completed. Mr Remøy sold his shares in Solstad in early 2017. Not long after, Mr Remøy incorporated a new Rem Offshore business with management located in Fosnavåg, Norway. Mr Remøy is chairman of the board, and his son Fredrik Remøy is chief executive. According to its website, the organisation operates worldwide with its main foothold in the North Sea market.
The nine vessels that make up the company’s fleet are comprised of six platform supply vessels, two offshore construction vessels and one seismic vessel. The fleet has an average age of under 10 years, making it one of the most modern fleets in the market, according to Rem Offshore literature. Rem’s stated philosophy is to seek long-term employment for its vessels and reduce the company’s exposure to the spot market.
Accepting his award, Mr Remøy said "I was educated as a ship’s engineer and had been working in shipyards in Norway for 10 years... before I got involved [in owning ships]. We bought our first trawler – built in Canada in 1942 – and converted it in 1978. So it started there, and as you also mentioned, I am now 68 years of age, I’ve been in the business for 40 years, starting with the fishing vessels and ending up with the offshore company.
"Now, I am more or less retired, and my successor, my son Fredrik, he is now leading the company Rem as a sustainable and successful company, hopefully, in the future. My most important task at the moment is my family. We are… 18 altogether, 10 grandchildren, and that is the most important part of my life, today.”
Other award winners included Yevgeny Primakov for Support Vessel of the Year, Seacor Marine Holdings for Shipowner of the Year, OneStep Power for Innovation of the Year, Rolls-Royce Marine and Corvus Energy for the joint contributions they made to environmental operations in the sector, Louis Dreyfus Armateurs’ Wind of Change SOV for the Offshore Renewables Award, Oceaneering for the Subsea Innovation Award, Kongsberg Maritime for the Dynamic Positioning Award and Subsea 7 for the Safety Award.