Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Deciphering the latest developments at the III Nautical Congress

The countdown has started for the meeting, which will take place in the Telefónica Tower in Barcelona  (Diagonal 00, Placa d´Ernest Lluch Martin 5),  from 11th to 12th of March.

After the inauguration by the State Secretary of Infrastructures, Transport and Housing, Julio Gómez-Pomar, the III Nautical Congress will embark on the analysis of the data from different perspectives: the Spanish market, actions aimed at obtaining legislative and fiscal improvements and revelation of disciplines and sub-sectors capable of boosting the current image of Spanish yachting.

All this will be debated during the first day of the event, between the representatives of public institutions, Turespaña, European Boating Industry (Mirna Cieniewicz, Direction General of the Merchant Navy, the Professional Organisation of the Tax Inspectors (Julio Ransés Pérez Boga), Ministry of Education (Soledad Iglesias Jiménez), and between marketing and sales experts, nautical designers (Iñigo Toledo, Juan Messeger) and boatyards (Diego Colon de Carvajal).
Once the current state of affairs has been debated, the following question is how the sector can optimize its capacity, products and potential?

 To look for answers and to plan strategies for the companies and organizations of the nautical sector, two round table discussions have been planned for the second day of the III Nautical Congress. Professionals from the media and marketing strategists will discuss and debate about actions and successful tools in other activities translatable to yachting.

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Annual General Meeting of AENIB and the presentation of Nautical Awards 2015

Cautious optimism could be the phrase to describe the general mood of the 29th Annual General Meeting of the Nautical Trade Association of the Balearic Islands (AENIB). The numbers speak for themselves – in 2014 the number of boat registrations started to increase again in the Balearic Islands. Worth mentioning specially is the increase by almost 90% of the charter boat registrations in comparison to 2013, according to the official information by ANEN. No doubt this is thanks to the elimination of the matriculation tax on charter yachts, achieved after years of hard work by the sector.

In the event participated numerous entrepreneurs of the sector, as well as various authorities, among them the president of CAEB, Carmen Planas, and the director of the  Balearic Port Authority (APB), Juan Carlos Plaza. After concluding the meeting, the presentation of the Nautical Awards of association took place, paying homage to the trajectory, loyalty and commitment to the sector of the various associates and public institutions. Dinatec was awarded the prize for the most outstanding professional trajectory, Dahlberg S.A for their longstanding membership and the APB as the most collaborative public institution, from the AENIBs point of view.

The event started with the presentation by Carlos Hellín of the new nautical program, produced by Rec Blau that will be broadcast with short in IB3. It is a program that keeps clear of the clichés and concentrates on the day to day reality of the businesses and the sailors. 

After that it was turn for the general secretary of the Spanish Nautical Trade Association (ANEN), Carlos Sanlorenzo to explain what actions the association is taking in order to improve the situation 
Of the recreational yachting in Spain. Sanlorenzo aired his frustration about how difficult it was to get anything of importance started during an election year, and that’s why “in 2015 ANEN will be concentrating in the new professional training for recreational yachting and in the new collective agreement for the sector”. The general secretary reviewed also the macroeconomic figures at the national level, stating the 9% increase of vessel registrations compared to 2013. “For the first time in seven are we able to publish positive figures of growth”, stated Sanlorenzo.

Annual General Meeting commenced after the presentation of Mr Sanlorenzo, including the reading and approval of the previous minutes and presentation of the results of 2014 and the budget for 2015. To conclude the assembly, the president of AENIB gave a brief speech, thanking all the associates “for their commitment with the progress of the nautical sector”. Dahlberg stated that “maybe the future is looking a bit brighter for the first time in years, but not for that we are going to relax”, and that the association is “going to put pressure on the administration to get rid of the obstacles that are in our way to legal and fiscal harmonization with our neighboring countries. The president of CAEB, Carmen Planas, also had a few words of support for the gathering of entrepreneurs, and offered them the resources of the confederation.

The attention in the prize giving ceremony was focused on two veteran businessmen of the sector: Kjell Dahlberg and Toni Socias. Both have dedicated over half of their lives to the nautical sector and embody for the association the spirit of venture and professionalism that generally characterizes the nautical companies of the Balearic Islands.  Thus, Socias and his company Dinatec received the award for the most outstanding professional trajectory. Dahlberg in turn received the award for the most longstanding member of AENIB. The Port Authority of the Balearic Islands received the award for the most collaborative public entity. AENIB highlighted the good relationship of APB with the sector and their understanding of the particular problems of the recreational yachting.

Friday, February 20, 2015

AENIB Awards 2015: Dinatec

Dinatec  receives this year´s award for the most outstanding professional trajectory. More than half of his life dedicated to nautical entrepreneurship, Toni Socias is considered one of the veterans of the sector. Currently his two sons run the business. To speak with Toni Socias about this award, we visit him at his shop next door to the Santa Catalina market in Palma.

This year Dinatec receives the award for the most outstanding professional trajectory. What does this award mean to you?

It was unexpected, in a way. But I´m very pleased  to have the trajectory of the company recognised, as we have been involved with nautical business for a long time. Dinatec has been in operation for 23 years, but personally I have been involved with the nautical sector for 40 years. The development has been brutal, the number of changes I have witnessed! Gone are the days when you bought a small boat and were given a mooring as a freebie. Now the waiting lists are huge.

How did it come about to start a company?

I was previously working in the company Socias- Rossello with my brother. At certain point I was ready to step out and start on my own. The first years of Dinatec were exciting, even happy in a way. We had a lot of work. We were quite all-round to start with, but with years we have specialised more towards the electronics, like sounders and radars, and their installation.

And your client profile - has it changed a lot over the years?

Yes. To start with we had mainly local clients. Now we are working also with bigger boats.

We are living in an era of changes in the sector. What effect do you think these changes will have on the sector and on companies like yours? 

I would like to make a point about the nautical qualifications. I don´t think it is appropriate that somebody with only PER can command a boat of 24 m. Lack of skills by the captain can cause problems. The rest seem like positive changes, although it remains to be seen how they will affect the sector.

The latest registration figures place the Balearic Islands as the market leader in Spain... 

Yes, but if you stop to analyse it, it is the biggest boats that increase most. The bracket below 8 meters continues the same as before. I think this is due to the exemption of matriculation tax on charter yachts.

In a few months we will have elections. In your opinion, what should the new administration do in order to support or boost the sector?

I almost prefer that they wouldn´t do anything and let us get on with it the work in peace. Us entrepreneurs we know how the sector works, in what situation we are in and more or less how to make progress. Now we have the problems of extensions of Port Molinar, Club de Mar and Port of Palma. They also want to do something in Moll Vell. But at the end of the day it seems like nothing goes ahead.

To change a subject - what services does Dinatec provide for their clients? 

Mainly installations, maintenance and sale of materials and products in our shop. 

How is Dinatec preparing for the coming seasons? 

With caution, but as always, we will adapt. Even during the boom years we progressed with calm as we could see that the situation could not carry on for long. Although I didn´t think the crisis would have hit as hard as it did.

AENIB Awards 2015: Port Authority of the Balearic Islands

The Port Authority receives the award for the public entity that has collaborated most with the nautical sector. AENIB wants to recognize the work by Alberto Pons as the president of the Port Authority, his approachability and his knowledge of the specific situation of the recreational yachting on our islands. On the occasion of the award, we made contact with Mr Pons in order to get the point of view of the institution in various areas.  

This year APB receives the award for the public entity that has collaborated most with the nautical sector. What does this recognition mean to you personally, and as the president of the institution?

I would like to keep my personal feelings to myself, but as the president of the Port Authority of the Balearic Islands I´m very pleased about the repercussion it has on the sector that is vital for the economy of the ports and the region for the income and jobs it generates.

You took the post as the president at the end of 2013 with a firm intention to improve the public image of the Port Authority. Do you think you have managed do do this?

What I have tried to do is to communicate and to inform about the various things that an institution like this does.  Whether this improves the image of the institution, could be. What is certain, APB is part of many aspects of the every day life of the citizens without them always being aware of it.

One of the other goals as the new president was to reduce the port taxes...

I´m aware of the situation and we are studying ways of not only reducing the taxes, but also clarifying the application processes.  

We would like to know your opinion about the nautical sector in the port of Palma, considering that it generates a good portion of the income of APB.

The nautical sector knows my opinion already. For the port of Palma it means being world leaders in service  and a reference point in quality for our competitors.

Many maintenance and repair refit companies feel that they are left to fend for themselves when it comes to carrying on with their activity. What actions is APB going to take in order to support the activity of this sector?

I don´t share this feeling. We are more than aware of these companies within the sector. In fact, the General Plan of Infrastructures of the Port of Palma contemplates an important increase of square meters to support and to consolidate an industrial activity that we consider Strategic for our future.

During the last years the sector has experienced a series of important legal and fiscal changes. The exemption of the matriculation tax on charter yachts, the new Law of Navigation, the reform of the nautical qualifications, etc. How do you think these changes are going affect the immediate future of our sector? And in the long term?

This is one of the more complicated issues we are facing, as this succession of changes of rules cause confusion. It is difficult for the companies to have a clear vision of the legal framework, which in my opinion is too changeable.

On the 25th of February the new General Plan for the port of Palma is going to be presented. Could you summarise for us what improvements it is going to introduce? How do you think it will be received by the users and the businesses?

Until now the plan has been well received among those to whom we have had a chance to explain it. Basically, the main ideas of the plan are: to remove the heaviest por activities away from the city by constructing a new dock and by landfill to gain more surface, to divide the port in sectors in order to optimise the activities and to invest in a better integration between the port and the city.

What are the future challenges of APB? 

Our vision as a company is to be a reference point in quality when it comes to integrating the port operation with the providing of both basic and complementary services to people and companies.

AENIB Awards 2015: Dahlberg S.A

The award for the most longstanding member goes to a company which is in fact one of the oldest nautical companies on the island. Kjell Dahlberg arrived to Mallorca when the island was just starting to discover the possibilities of mass tourism, and founded in 1972 a company, which was possibly the first one dedicated to yacht repairs on the island. Currently Dahlberg S.A has various divisions and the third generation of Dahlbergs is about to join the company. The award gave us an opportunity to interview Kjell Dahlberg in his home and share some good memories with him. 

1.- This year Dahlberg SA receives the award for the most longstanding member of AENIB. What does this recognition mean to you?

It is fantastic, as I have been around for a long time. The company was among the first ones to start repair "things" on the boats. When I arrived on the island there was nobody who understood about these things. I gained my experience when I lived and worked in Sweden (I´m Swedish by birth), I have also a skipper´s certificate for deep sea fishing, I´m a naval technician.. and also a qualified professional diver.

2.- You arrived on the island in the sixties, if I´m not mistaken. Why did a Swedish youngster like yourself decide to settle down in Mallorca and to start a company?

About 56 years ago I was sailing on a yacht and arrived in Mallorca. We had very bad weather during the voyage, sailed into a storm outside Soller and had to return back to Palma for repairs. We spent an entire year repairing the boat, and by concluding the job I returned to Sweden, although I had already fallen in love with Mallorca... I could also see that there was nobody who understood much about boats... There were mechanics, but they worked mainly with cars and only occasionally repaired boat engines. Their work processes, knowledge and tools were based on the Spanish automotive industry of the sixties. They didn´t have knowledge of the modern equipment we had access to in Sweden at that time. I saw an opportunity to establish my own company, and that´s how I started.

I think I was the first one to open a business of this type on the island. In fact it was quite a challenge legally, as there was no activity in the register that could be applied. Those days it was very difficult for a foreigner to obtain a work permit, so I sought help from a lawyer, who told me that I could obtain a work permit if I registered myself as an artisan locksmith. I wasn´t too bothered, it was a question about obtaining a licence and getting started. Any inaccuracies could be ironed out afterwards.

My first clients were all foreigners; Americans, Germans and English. I spoke English and some German, so I had no communication problems. This was something they appreciated very much. When they came to Spain they didn´t find anybody who would understand them, but there was I and we could talk about the problems they had. I worked mainly with big sailing yachts coming from America, England and Germany. There were not so many motor boats as nowadays.

3.- Do you miss something from the olden days? 

There was more freedom and less controls. As my daughter pointed out to me once - if I wanted to start the same business today, I would not be able to. 

Those days things were repaired. Nowadays things don´t get repaired, they get changed, in the American style.
When I started, everything had to be repaired, among other things because spare parts simply didn´t exist in Spain. I had to devise something myself and try to use my contacts in Sweden and in England to get sent what I needed. This system worked pretty well.

4.- What would you have thought 55 years ago if somebody had told you where the company is today  and that a third generation of Dahlbergs would be involved in the business?

In all honesty I didn´t think much about the future. You had to do your bit every day and work hard. Little by little I became very well known among the yacht owners - without spending a cent in publicity! The clients were happy and that was the best marketing I could have. Today I can say that I´m very proud of both the past and the present of the company, and that as a family we have been able to get through the different periods of crisis, celebrating our 30th anniversary of Dahlberg S.A last year. The future is exciting with the third generation ready to step in, but it is not going to be easy.

5.- In your opinion, how has the nautical sector developed during these past 45 years?

The development is very satisfying , thanks to a strategic location of the Balearic Islands in the Mediterranean, the highly specialised companies that exist here, the natural environment and the exquisite services available in different sectors. Today the islands are a worldwide nautical reference. But there is still a lot to do, not so much at the business level, more so on the administrative side of things.

6.- On the Balearic Islands there are lots of family businesses dedicated to nautical sector. In yours three generations of the family are involved in the company. Why do you think so many families dedicate themselves to nautical businesses?

It is work for which the passion comes from within. We teach our children the love of the sea and the love and implication in our work, they grow up with this attitude. Besides, working in a nautical business is never boring, although often not easy. A lot of knowledge is essential.

7.- Currently, what services does Dahlberg S.A provide for their clients?

We supply, install and repair the brands that we represent. We also have a department of training in electronics and sanitation. We have three divisions at Dahlberg: Naval electronic equipment and telecommunications; Waste water systems, toilets and pumps; and Revision and sales of the life rafts of the brand Duarry.

8.- To conclude, how will Dahlberg face the future as a company? What challenges do you have ahead?

To start with, we need to continue acquiring skills and knowledge in all our specialties. Then to innovate, not only when it comes to the products we should have on offer, but also with the processes as a company and the needs of the market. And naturally we need to continue having excellent relationship with our collaborators and clients.

Monday, February 9, 2015

Letter from the president - February 2015

I would like to take the opportunity to invite all our associates to participate in the Annual General Meeting of AENIB, which will take place on the 19th of February at the headquarters of CAEB in Palma. It is a very important event for the association  as we can take stock of the past year and between all of us decide the direction for the future. On the other hand, the statistics relating to the vessel registrations provided by ANEN highlight the promising outlook of the nautical sector on our islands. We have taken over Barcelona as the region with the biggest market share in recreational yachting. We are also witnessing a worrying tendency by the local government to sanction irregularities at sea.

In a few weeks the Annual General Meeting will take place at CAEB. It is an event of an utmost importance, where our management will be held to account and where we will decide together where we are headed as a sector and as businesses. Therefore your assistance is very important. As tradition mandates, prior to the Assembly we will organise a series of talks relating to the current state of the nautical sector. We are still finalizing the programme, but can tell you already that the general secretary of ANEN, Carlos Sanlorenzo will explain the latest legal and fiscal changes that have taken place in the recreational nautical sector, and give a hint of the challenged that are to be expected. There will be a chance for networking too, while having a glass of wine and catching up with fellows associates and speakers. As we get confirmations from other speakers, we will publish them in our forums in social networks  and through e-mails. We sincerely hope that you will be able to join us!