Grupo Stier celebrates its 25th anniversary with reception in the City of London
by James Brewer.
Ida Stier, founder and chief executive of Grupo Stier, welcomed guests from many sectors of the maritime industry to a reception in London to mark the 25th anniversary of the group that carries her name.
The business is involved in an extensive range of shipping services – from training, to its role as P&I (protection and indemnity) correspondents, to ship agency, survey and legal services.
Perhaps its most telling selling-point though has been the drive, business acumen and engaging personality of Ms Stier who has built the enterprise to global repute from its principal bases in Las Palmas, the capital of Gran Canaria with its substantial port, and Santa Cruz de Tenerife.
A congratulatory crowd enjoyed lively conversation, delicious tapas and fine wines at the appropriate City venue of Restaurant Hispania in Lombard Street.
Ms Stier told them: “For Grupo Stier it is an honour and a satisfaction being in London, where we have so many clients and friends, to celebrate our silver anniversary and be able to thank them for their continuous support that has contributed to our success.” She expressed warm thanks to the group’s many contacts in the P&I clubs.
She said: “The shipping sector – being the merchant marine, offshore oil and gas industry and even the renewable energies participants – gives us a continuous feedback that enables us to update our centre constantly, allowing us to provide first class maritime services to our principals and their members.”
The group has been able to capitalise on the geographical location of the Canary Islands as a hub for the European Union and “bridge” between America, Africa and Europe. The ports in the Canary Islands are linked through trade to more than 500 ports worldwide, by some 30 shipping lines.
A quarter of a century on from its establishment, in addition to headquarters in Las Palmas, it has offices in Tenerife, Ceuta, Algeciras, Barcelona, Madrid and Cape Verde (Mindelo and Praia). It operates in all ports of Spain.
The group’s origins were in setting up as P&I correspondents and claims adjusters under the name of Stier & Co, offering services throughout the Canary Islands. In 1983, Ms Stier and colleagues had introduced in Spain the UK P&I Club – at that time the world’s largest such mutual – through their then employ with Iberpandi of Madrid. Ten years later, the UK P&I Club appointed Grupo Stier as its correspondents in the Canary Islands.
Today Grupo Stier looks after the members of practically all clubs in the International Group of P&I Clubs and clients of fixed premium Insurers. The company says that it has solved more than 2,000 maritime emergencies, with 25% time saved and 40% cost reduction.
As P&I correspondents, “we handle any associated claims and offer assistance to the captain, shipowners and their insurers in case of illness, death or accidents occurring at sea.”
A few months after founding Stier & Co a second company was formed, Centro de Estudios Marítimos del Atlántico (CEMA). The aim of that company was to promote safety and excellence of practice for seafarers and other shipping company personnel. For over 20 years CEMA continued to develop programmes and activities with an emphasis on maritime studies, training to date a total of more than 2,500 people from all over the world. This has been carried out with the co-operation of allied companies, including AIS (Associated Independent Surveyors which was launched in 2015 with Grupo Stier and BMT Surveys). During the presentation to the London audience, Jorge Seco, a master marine surveyor from AIS, outlined the survey coverage, including container inspections, cargo damage, bunkers, hull and machinery, offshore and oil spill and pollution.
In 1998, Stier & Co saw another service opportunity in the shape of Stier Ship Agency. “Satisfaction and loyalty of our clients is the best proof of our success to date,” the company asserts. Twenty years later, Stier & Co, CEMA and Stier Ship Agency merged to become the trademark company Grupo Stier.
The years of tackling maritime emergencies inspired the opening of Stier Training Centre, the first in Spain with international accreditations under the IMO Convention on Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping for Seafarers of 1978 (STCW) which sets minimum qualification standards for masters, officers and watch personnel; the Offshore Petroleum Industry Training Organization (OPITO) which has been setting standards for the oil and gas industry since 1991 on workforce safety and competence: Marlins maritime English; and the Global Wind Organisation (GWO).
Stier Training Centre is described as “the expression of our corporate maturity.” The facility was awarded second prize in 2016 for education under OPITO.
Its aquatic training unit is a “magnificent” metallic structure and tank 10 m high that can hold 235 cu m of water. At a fire training unit, students practise with the aid of simulators how to extinguish different types of indoor and outdoor fires.
In her presentation, Ms Stier said the company values are aligned with the initial letters of its name: Sincerity, Transparency, Integrity, Efficiency, Readiness.
The emergency co-ordination team is Ida Stier as average adjuster; lawyer Woo Sung Chang; master mariner Fernando Vincent; and marine engineer Jose Maria Romero.
John Faraclas of All About Shipping formally launched proceedings at Restaurant Hispania, proposing a toast to Ms Stier and her business, declaring: “Congratulations, Ida, for this adventurous success!!”
He said: “In As You Like It, William Shakespeare wrote: All the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players.”
“Here we have Ida Stier an exceptional shipping business player, a stakeholder, with her success. And beyond this lies [in her] another powerful figure who co-launched WISTA Spain [part of the Women’s International Shipping & Trading Association] back in 1979.”
“She is a very colourful player in the P&I scene, and we know that P&I is at the forefront of everything in shipping.”
Many from the shipping industry attended showing the flag for all its sectors: Ken McLean, maritime mediator and arbitrator, Maria Dixon head of ISM Shipping Solutions and former president of WISTA-UK with her husband Paul Dixon, Tracy Newson General Manager and seafarer regulations manager from St. Kitts & Nevis International Ship Registry, Isabella Jones, Technical Assistant/ Seafarers and Manning Department from the Bahamas Maritime Authority UK office, Eileen Delgado Tovar from Islaw Abogados in Las Palmas, Anne Cowne from Lloyd’s Register Foundation…
…also spotted: Sergio Allard Technical Officer from the Panama Maritime Authority in the United Kingdom, Karime Sofia Uribe from MOL LNG Transport (Europe) Limited, Jeremy Brewer of SPS London, a specialist shipbroking firm for heavy lift, project and multipurpose vessels and cargo, Gay Stevens from the London P&I Club, Captain Chris Adams head of Loss prevention at the Steam ship Mutual P&I, Christine Williams, head of Claims / Legal at Travellers with her colleagues, Debbie Fallon and Sheila Abaniwo, Stavroula Gavridis, lawyer and many others…
As to the future, Ms Stier referred to three principal new opportunities:
“We wish to expand our P&I correspondents portfolio in the Canary Islands, and expanding to Cape Verde and West Africa.
“We wish you and your members to appoint Stier Ship Agency to help solve your emergencies at sea based on our location, expertise and experience.
“We wish to promote our AIS certified surveyors within your offices’ network, members and international shipping community.”
The group had begun its anniversary celebrations on September 21 with a cocktail party at a restaurant in Las Palmas, and two days later had an open day at the Stier Training Centre.
N.B.: All photos with a star * are by Alfonso Roca