The company opened a new office in Rotterdam in the autumn of 2020, and in 2023, new offices were launched in Hamburg and Athens. To its current growth trajectory, MARPRO is actively seeking to fortify its existing offices while eyeing new opportunities to establish new ones in other maritime hubs. We spoke with Jakob le Fevre, Managing Director of MARPRO, about the background of the company, where they stand today, and what their vision is.
Why start a recruitment company focusing on the maritime sector in Denmark?
“I have personal experience with recruitment companies, as I have been through the process several times during my career. My experience is that the large general recruitment firms simply do not understand the maritime industry and the skills it takes to succeed. I also have experience with well-known English recruitment firms, and I found it difficult to understand why a company in England should be better at finding talents in Denmark than those of us who live here and are part of the industry. Finally, I saw a trend where companies were increasingly outsourcing specialized tasks such as accounting and IT, and I saw potential in creating a recruitment company focused on land-based professionals in the maritime industry. A recruitment company that did not primarily work with executive roles but rather acted as a permanent recruitment partner, with ongoing focus on talent-acquisition.”
Was it easy to get started?
“No, not at all. I had thought that I could sell services based on my relationships, but it took a lot to get started. The maritime industry is conservative, and you usually sell based on references – but I had none when I started. I also had to figure out how everything could be optimized. Most people can hire a single employee, but delivering it as a professional service, with consistent and professional quality, requires a lot of processes and optimization. For the first couple of years, I worked alone and experimented with different ways of doing things – and in 2020, I felt that I had found the formula and therefore started an office in Rotterdam. The basic principles are still the same – but since then, we have really worked on improving services – both for our clients and our candidates.”
How many employees do you have now, and do you expect further growth?
“As of today, we have 12 employees at MARPRO, spread across 4 offices. The activity in a recruitment company is a direct reflection of the market situation in general, so it is difficult to make detailed plans – along the way, we have had to deal with Corona, war, and an energy crisis, among other things. But if the development continues, I see a great growth potential. Our business model is unique; we work locally – but with an international perspective. Our consultants have seawater in their blood; some are navigators – others have experience from solid careers in the maritime industry. My thesis is that if our model works in Denmark and Holland – why shouldn’t it work in other maritime clusters?”
What is MARPRO’s biggest challenge?
“Explaining what we do, how we work, and how it creates value for our clients. Even my own mother couldn’t understand it at first. She asked me how we could be better at recruiting people than the company itself? I could talk about that for hours – but people don’t want to hear that, so it’s about getting a very complex message communicated in a concise and precise way. A customer came up with a good formulation the other day. He said that the challenge is that the term – a recruitment company – is just an empty shell, and it is very different what companies then pack into that shell. I know for sure that our domain knowledge is completely unique. In short, we know a lot about the maritime industry. This challenge is also seen in our approach to new customers. Unlike many of our competitors, we don’t work with telemarketing. In general, we don’t spend much effort selling our services – and the majority of our new customers come in because they have heard positive things about us from colleagues or because they themselves have been in play as candidates.”
About MARPRO (click to open)
Despite the COVID-19 difficulties, MARPRO expanded in 2020, adding an extra office in the Maritime Capital of Europe, Rotterdam. With the eye always on growth, MARPRO is adding in 2023 two new offices in their portfolio – Athens and Hamburg.
MARPRO’s strengths lies on its strong channels, operating the maritime social platform www.maritime-professionals.com , the Maritime Professionals group being elected one of the most engaging groups on LinkedIn in 2022, and the MARPRO weekly newsletter.
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