PASSER SIDC Aims to Double Production at New Plant
Norway’s PASSER Group AS acquired SIDC Group UAB in 2020 with the goal to transform the Klaipeda-based company into a full-service EPCI provider with complete control of the value chain.
“The deciding factor for PASSER was that SIDC was a perfect match for their targeted development strategy,” said PASSER SIDC Group Marketing Director Arnoldas Laurisonis.
"We came on PASSER’s radar primarily because of our convenient location in the Baltic and attractive cost base. They were impressed by SIDC’s good track record since the company was established 10 years ago, and we had also proven our ability to successfully manage and deliver very large offshore and shipbuilding projects,” said Laurisonis.
“Klaipeda has been the base for PASSER fabrication activity since our beginning, and we have developed an extensive network with local cooperation partners. PASSER SIDC stood out as a highly competent partner with great ability to execute these demanding projects prior to becoming a part of the PASSER Group family. Their track record and our relation to the company contributed to our decision to acquire PASSER SIDC and continue our operation in Klaipeda. Many years with great cooperation together with competent local companies was the deciding factor,” said PASSER Group Director Business Development, Espen Brudal.
“We experience Klaipeda as a city with a well-established industry fitting our business, in addition there is a good supply of experienced and competent people. The geographical location is also in relative proximity to PASSER Group’s head office in Sandefjord. The location is well suited for transport by sea to our customers, which makes it ideal for our solutions,” he said.
Laurisonis says that it was great news when PASSER said they wanted to acquire the company. “Everybody was excited because of the opportunities it would bring in terms of new and interesting work. Plus, we were all relieved that the buyer was Norwegian. As Lithuanians we identify closely with Scandinavian culture and values.”
The company’s core activities today include the design and construction of metal structures for the renewable energy and offshore oil-and-gas industry, as well as shipbuilding, repair and modernization.
“Previously we only fabricated parts of new ships, before building our complete first ship three years ago – the multipurpose catamaran service vessel Runa – just before the PASSER buy-up,” said Laurisonis. SIDC undertook full drafting and coordination of the vessel design, hull and equipment installation, all sea trials and delivery to the client.
“The customer, Boreal Group, was satisfied. The project demonstrated the quality of our ship design and engineering capability here in Klaipeda,” says Laurisonis. The ship can be modified for use as an aquaculture service vessel, for oil-recovery operations, crew transportation, quay construction, tug functions, fishing, sea research, underwater works or leisure purposes.
PASSER SIDC also acquired a Dutch shipyard last year as part of its ongoing expansion. “We have contracts in hand for four ships and 10 vessel hull block that require special facilities, but all operations will be administered from Klaipeda,” says Laurisonis.
Opening new markets
With PASSER’s solid backing the company is strengthening the local economy with more new jobs. “We also aim to focus on the renewable energy market as a business-development priority. Lithuania is maturing in terms of wind and solar energy, and we can help develop the sector with specialized products and engineering services. Opening up opportunities in this market is another reason PASSER decided to buy us,” Laurisonis says.
PASSER SIDC is also engaged in building a large state-of-the-art wood pulp mill in Uruguay and Finland, including construction and installation of seven process tanks up to 70 meters in height. “We are leveraging our skill base all the way to South America with a strong team of specialists from Klaipeda working on site,” says Laurisonis.
New plant in the making
The company is also in the midst of establishing new workshops in Klaipeda that will be used for product assembly. “It was easy to find an appropriate site near the port and we plan to complete construction work this year,” says Laurisonis. PASSER SIDC’s ambition for the new plant is to increase turnover twofold serving its main European markets.
Klaipeda’s established maritime cluster is not of immediate importance in terms of customers. “Right now, we have a lot of international orders so we do not rely on the local market so much. However, we do have an ongoing research development project with Klaipeda University studying tank containment systems for hydrogen. It’s a good example of how we are working together with the knowledge base and I’m sure there will more collaboration opportunities in future,” Laurisonis says.
What he does emphasize is the city’s business-friendly environment. “We definitely recommend Klaipeda as an attractive location for other Nordic companies to establish operations, particularly because of the well-functioning port and good infrastructure. The bureaucracy is really easy versus 10 or 20 years ago. There are also a lot of consultancy companies helping start-ups and foreign companies who want to invest here,” says Laurisonis.
He highlights the growing popularity of technology parks in Lithuania. “For example, Klaipeda Science and Technolgy Park is very active in promoting innovation in green and blue marine technologies, including the local LNG cluster, while the second phase of the Baltic Tech Park is now underway with a new building housing SMK University of Applied Social Sciences,” he says. Klaipeda Seaport is also working hard to develop new business, especially offshore wind energy in the Baltic.
Recruiting the right people has presented no major problems. “Depending on the field, finding a local professional with the relevant technical education and specialized experience in only a couple of weeks can be a challenge – as it is anywhere in Europe. We have succeeded in developing our team both by hiring locally and bringing in skilled people from elsewhere, particularly Ukraine,” says Laurisonis.
Solid talent pipeline
Pretty much all PASSER SIDC’s local engineers are graduates of Klaipeda University so there is a good pipeline of young people determined to progress their careers. “There’s another great university close in Kaunas as well. Some of our engineers have practically grown up in the company. The big benefit is that we have very low staff churn,” says Laurisonis, who himself joined SIDC six years ago as a graduate.
Laurisonis highlights Klaipeda’s safe living environment, which is perfect for families and kids. “It’s easy to get around, everyone speaks English, and we have a lot of cultural and leisure offerings. I’ve lived in Klaipeda all my life and I love the spectacular nature. People who move here never want to leave!” he concludes.
“Everybody involved in promoting Klaipeda was very happy when PASSER Group invested in buying SIDC Group,” comments Diana Manko, Head of Business at city development agency Klaipeda ID. “Their presence strengthens our industrial and shipbuilding base as well as our competence in the renewable-energy sector. We wish them every success as part of our growing maritime cluster with global reach.”