United European Car Carriers – Flag Carriers

United European Car Carriers (UECC) carry more than cars, High and Heavy cargo and Break Bulk cargo, they also carry the flag for a greener, more sustainable way of doing business.

United European Car Carriers is a leading provider of short sea transportation for the automobile sector.

“We have a vision of being the leading provider of short sea RoRo transportation in Europe and what differentiates us is that we are the only company investing in new and greener tonnage” Glenn Edvardsen, the company’s CEO says. “Established back in 1990, we’re celebrating our 30th anniversary this year. We own and operate between 17 and 20 vessels, some directly owned and operated, and a portion chartered across a whole variety of sizes. UECC has a very good fleet composition, with the smallest at 1,200 cars up to more than 5,000 cars, so we have a wide variety in size, diversity is very important.”

Currently, United European Car Carriers, or UECC as they are often known, are gearing up for their 30th-anniversary celebrations, an occasion they feel justified in marking given how much they have achieved in that time.

“We are planning to have an event to mark the anniversary. Because, after all, 30 years is a milestone worth celebrating,” Edvardsen says. “We’re owned by a Japanese company, Nippon Yusen Kabushiki Kaisha (NYK) and a Swedish company, Wallenius Lines, but we’re independently operated and we’re a well-known company in the shortsea segment.”

UECC has every right to be proud of its achievements, as it is operating in an extremely competitive market, but while competition is a challenge, Edvardsen points out, it also brings its own kinds of benefits.

The competition in this market is very strong and fierce, but sometimes that’s good and that makes you better,” Edvardsen says. “In every business you need competition. Our challenges are the industry’s challenges.”

Regarding the industry as a whole, Edvardsen is optimistic about the state of the market but is under no illusion that businesses need to be ready to adapt to changing circumstances.

“I think we are coming from a relatively strong market. Car sales in Europe, in general, have been quite good but can be very dependent on car sales across Europe which, in turn, depends on the state of the economy,” he says. “I would say all the geopolitical instability we see around the world currently has an enormous effect on Europe and will have an effect on Europe’s carmakers. Everyone is dependent on a stable market. We’d like to see a market with stability and steady growth.”

Keeping Flexible

Edvardsen’s goal is for UECC to be ready for any changes, whether they be positive or challenging.

“Challenges and opportunities come and go, so the goal is to have a flexible sector so that you can adjust to the ever-changing market,” Edvardsen says. “If you don’t have a business set up to have flexibility as the market changes, it’s going to be difficult.”

For UECC that flexibility exhibits itself in a number of critical ways.

“UECC has a combination of vessels. We’ll probably never own all the vessels needed at any given time. If we’re using 17 vessels, we will never aim to own all 17 vessels,” Edvardsen tells us. “We like to have that flexible set-up where if the market drops, we can adapt. Likewise, if business increases, we can charter extra vessels. We respond to the market quickly, and that goes both ways, being able to grab opportunities when they arise, as well as being able to take quick actions to tighten our belts when that is needed. We adapt to the changes the market dictates. We’ve been in the business for a long time, we know the market and of course our people.”

Inspired by Sustainability

People are perhaps the most important resource that UECC has. Edvardsen believes they need to be treated with the respect in which they deserve.

“We’ve got dedicated, loyal, good people which is an extremely important asset for us. Without those people, doing business would be very difficult for us,” he says. “We need to treat people with respect, and they need to feel they are worth something. It’s not all about money, people seek more. People want good working environments, to be treated well, that’s probably more important than anything else.”

However, one element that Edvardsen has found to be a particularly powerful draw for new employees is the strong values at the core of UECC.

“We invest in the people, the company itself is on a path that leans towards protecting the environment. It’s a high focus for us, and a younger generation of people appreciate that” he explains. “We have just ordered three vessels that are LNG / battery-hybrid solution powered.  In addition and we also have two LNG powered vessels we’ve been operating since 2016.

Whilst recruiting, UECC has noted that selling our green profile has generated a lot of positive interest.  People nowadays want to be associated with a company taking our environment seriously and making the right investments to achieve this.

Although UECC is an independent operator, Edvardsen points out that these values of sustainability and environmental concern are ones that the business shares with its parent companies.

I think it’s worth mentioning we’re in many ways lucky because the current owners are well known for their green profile, it’s in their DNA,” he says. “We do things not necessarily to comply with regulation but to exceed today’s regulations. We want to meet the future regulations, and by doing that we always stay at the forefront of the green revolution.  It’s good to work for a company with that mentality. At the end of the day, it will differentiate the winners from the losers.”

Pull Quote: The competition in this market is very strong and fierce, but sometimes that’s good and that makes you better.”

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