ERMA FIRST – The First in Ballast Water Treatment

Sales Director Nikos Drimalas, International Sales Manager Konstantinos Dimopoulos & Marketing Manager Kimon Mademlis discuss how ERMA FIRST is innovating the field of ballast water treatment systems.

ERMA FIRST was established in Greece in 2009, but over the years its industry-benchmark ballast water treatment system has become a global business. “We have a long-term commitment to working with prestigious shipping companies around the world. We pride ourselves on superior operational readiness, build quality, and ease of use. Our ballast water treatment systems are in compliance with all the necessary legislation, and we are the top worldwide in terms of quality and sales”, states Konstantinos Dimopoulos, International Sales Manager.

Nikos Drimalas, Sales Director, has a firm idea of what role his department has in the running of ERMA FIRST. “I’m leading the sales department. I would say I have the hardest ‘easy’ job in the world. There is a high expectation and demand for our products, as we are expected to provide a complete solution for their life cycle. We achieve this by offering complete product management and full sales support”, Mr Drimalas explains.

On the other hand, Konstantinos Dimopoulos has seen his role evolve alongside the company. “I was hired in the early days and have grown with the company. ERMA FIRST has trusted me with its development in my current role as the international sales manager” he recalls.

ERMA FIRST’s rapid growth has meant that they have had to be adaptable to meet the challenges their business comes up against. “Capacity has been an issue we have had to deal with. Different vessels require different strategies so that is something we have to look at.  To address this, ERMA FIRST has expanded its manpower, allowing us to study what needs to be done. We can offer an ‘A to Z’ service as well as being able to provide retrofitting” Drimalas details.

“On the sales side, we have numerous ongoing projects, and we are expected to support them throughout their lifecycle. We recently established a new after-sales department and brought in a ticketing system for better after-sales support”, Dimopoulos further adds.

The company has also put in place contingency plans to deal with potential supply and delay issues, something that numerous industries have had to deal with in recent times. “We have also put spare parts and storage in specific geographical areas so that people can get there as soon as possible. We want to ensure a smooth operation, which is why we train the crew. This can be on-site, via our headquarters, training centres, e-learning platforms, and remote seminars. This should allow for the best upkeep of our systems”, Dimopoulos continues.

In some cases, there are specific regional demands that the company has to adapt to. “We recently established a training centre in Manila, Philippines, as a lot of our crews are based there and we believe it was important they received hands-on training”, Drimalas further elaborates.

Team players

Nikos Drimalas, Sales Director, has specific ideas when it comes to hiring people to join the ERMA FIRST team and what qualities they should bring to the table. “It depends on the position. Preferably, we would like people with solid academic background and relevant maritime experience as this provides a better perception of the technical side of our business, although this can vary depending on the department” he states. “For anyone coming into the business, we are looking for strong organisational skills, attention to detail, and quick decision-making”, Drimalas adds.

Konstantinos Dimopoulos, International Sales Manager, comes at this from another angle, citing his background and how it affects his role. “I am a mechanical engineer by trade. For me, I am looking for positive team players. We are all part of the company, and it is important that we are customer-orientated” he explains.

Kimon Mademlis, Marketing Manager, takes over to raise awareness of the ERMA FIRST CSR plans. “At ERMA FIRST, corporate social responsibility (CSR) is not a one-off action, but what we do on daily basis. We transform CSR into purposeful, tangible, and meaningful actions. ERMA FIRST builds and implements CSR plans serving our higher purpose and company values, based on three key pillars: local community, inclusivity & sustainability.” ERMA FIRST’s brand DNA is based on the company’s higher purpose of protecting and preserving the marine ecosystem. Hence, ERMA FIRST is an example of a company where CSR is at the forefront of its operations, building and committing to a solid full-year plan with monthly actions. “Giving back to the community is extremely important for us, as well as our commitment to sustainability and the environment. We have a monthly volunteering schedule and communicate our activities organically through our website and social media” Mademlis explains.

Kimon Mademlis elaborates further providing a recent example where the company was able to give its support during a terrible disaster. “During the forest fires in Greece, we worked to support the reforestation of the local area to help the forest recovery. And this is just one example of an extended array of actions we undertook to serve our purpose and environmental commitment” he proudly states.

The most important ship

Nikos Drimalas, Sales Director, is optimistic about the future of ERMA FIRST, citing their ability to maintain consistency and the specific steps they have taken to remain competitive in their field. “We are a long-term player in this market – this is not a business for opportunists! We believe that this is a marathon, not a sprint. With this in mind, we have made a number of acquisitions.”

These acquisitions included METIS Cyberspace Technology in 2019, a company producing an intelligent real-time data monitoring digital platform for optimizing vessel’s performance. In May 2021, ERMA FIRST acquired RWO GmbH, a leading and well-respected German marine water treatment system manufacturer. Following that, during the summer of 2021, ERMA FIRST acquired oneTANK, a US-based company manufacturing the world’s smallest, easiest to install, and fully approved ballast water treatment system. The ERMA FIRST oneTANK footprint is only 600mm x 600mm, half the size of its nearest competitor, meaning it can easily fit into any vessel space. The installation is straightforward and, more importantly, at the end of the vessel’s operational life, the whole system can be removed and installed on another vessel. On top of that, referring to costs, oneTANK is the lowest priced fully approved ballast water treatment system in the market, as well as its power consumption, is similar to that of a household washing machine. oneTANK is a game-changer for the ballast water treatment market being the ultimate solution for tanker aft peak tanks as well as smaller vessels, such as superyachts, fishing vessels, workboats, and semi-submersibles.

The company is also looking to invest in further technological advances to stay ahead of the competition, while making ballast water treatment technology more energy efficient. “Our R&D team is continually working towards introducing new technologies and improving the existing. We are currently looking into anti-pollution measures, as well as ways of using solar power and more energy-efficient processes”, Drimalas further explains.

For Nikos Drimalas, the company must continue progress while maintaining a high standard. “We are going to continue working according to regulations, producing and developing new technologies that will further benefit the shipping industry. We are a customer-orientated company. As a maritime business the most important ship is a partnership”, he confidently states.











Nikos Drimalas                           Konstantinos Dimopoulos      Kimon Mademlis               

Sales Director                                    International Sales Manager         Marketing Manager

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