Around the World in 80 Trades: Balmoral Offshore Engineering

Around the World in 80 Trades: Balmoral Offshore Engineering

As a company which develops, designs, manufactures and tests subsea buoyancy, elastomer and insulation products, the Balmoral Group has been exporting its products and services for over 30 years. Ahead of the HSBC Scottish Export Awards 2017, BQ caught up with Steve Gibb to hear more about the company’s exporting success.

Balmoral Offshore Engineering is a company which flies the flag for Scotland overseas having exported its products and services for over 30 years.

The company is a division of The Balmoral Group which was founded in 1980 by chairman and managing director, Jim Milne CBE.

Steve told BQ: "All of our products are used in the global deepwater oil and gas market which is predominantly Gulf of Mexico, South America, West Africa, Far East.

"It was recognised in the 1980s that serious growth could only take place by exporting. Although we were based in Aberdeen and initially served the North Sea, the company had greater ambitions."

This transition from a small business in Aberdeen to an international engineering firm brought with it a series of challenges but the team at Balmoral were determined to make it a success.

"Every country you visit and ultimately trade with has its own requirements," added Steve. "There is an old adage which goes something like: "If you’re selling you need to speak the language you’re selling to. If you’re buying you should only have to communicate in your native language". We are extremely fortunate that English is the recognised international business language.

"Etiquette and currency issues also need to be studied and considered if you are serious about developing long term relationships with particular countries and cultures. Again, Balmoral always does its homework and attempts to be prepared for most eventualities.

"In the early days we would go to the country-based UK embassies for business information. We have now commissioned dozens of IMAS reports over the years.

"Support organisations including Scottish Enterprise and UKTI have been helpful but we find that we can carry out more meaningful research ourselves in these times of global communication and online information-based analysis tools.

"There is also no substitute for face-to-face communication. Do your homework, study the market and identify the key players and business targets. Arrange appointments, introduce your company through organised trade missions and exhibitions. Join appropriate trade organisations. Be prepared for lots of hanging around airports."

Speaking about the future, Steve concluded: "Balmoral has an ever-expanding product portfolio. We go where the work is and don’t wait for it to come to us.

"This philosophy has worked well for more than 30 years and we don’t intend to change it now. Nor do we intend letting our competitors know what our next move is!"

Exporting and international trade remain high on the Scottish Government’s economic growth agenda and the Scottish Export Awards, in association with Scottish Enterprise, are about recognising the excellence in those emerging, wealth creating companies that are selling their products, services and expertise in scores of overseas markets.

To book your ticket for the awards, click here.