A close and friendly relationship with his customers has become Kai Lindenberg’s trademark.
Tasks: “I am the main aftermarket contact for all enquiries about vessel efficiency from our German customers. I talk to customers who want their vessels to perform better and be more efficient. We have a large customer base in Germany, and the number of customers increased even further when we became part of Kongsberg Maritime. There is a lot of activity in this field. Customers discuss large projects with me; it’s my job to find out how we can help them. It’s been great to have Kongsberg Maritime’s products in the portfolio. Together, we can implement more significant upgrades to vessels than we could have done alone. I’m always thinking about which of Kongsberg Maritime’s products might be suitable, whether I’m talking to established customers or new customers.”
Background: “I learnt everything I know in a maritime setting. I was in the German Navy for ten years; I spent one year as the chief engineer on a container vessel and two years as the second engineer on a cruise ship. In 1997, I started working at Kamewa as a service engineer for propulsion and control systems; I also worked on upgrades and support. I’ve been working in aftermarket sales since 2008.”
- Why did you choose this industry?
“I made the decision with the support of my family. I knew that I needed to spend a few years at sea to gain experience and skills before coming back to work on land. The opportunity at Kamewa came at the perfect time. The container vessel I worked on used Kamewa propellers so I was already in contact with the company when the job opened up. I still love the job; it’s worked out perfectly.”
- What do you like best about your job?
“The best part is the contact with customers who I have known for a long time. I met several chief engineers on different vessels when I was a service engineer. They now work in an office and we see each other when I travel around. They know who I am and what I’m talking about. It’s a great environment to work in and I find it easy to talk about products and things that they need, or to explain why they don’t need something. They trust me because of my background and I trust them.
“I like meeting people and talking about solutions they would benefit from or offering products that they may not be aware of. The best thing about this job is when customers have a light-bulb moment during a sales meeting and they understand how we can help them — it’s a great feeling.”
- What motivates you?
“Satisfied customers and being able to improve the technology on a vessel. I’m very technology oriented. You need to have some commercial skills too, of course, but I am very interested in the technical side, especially the propulsion of ships. I have a lot to offer in this area and the response has been good so far. Good feedback is the best motivation you can get.”
- What is your best work memory?
“I remember a project that involved a small ferry with very old water jet systems, really high fuel consumption and it only managed a maximum of 22 knots. I sold the owner an upgrade but I was worried that I may have promised too much when I said that the ferry would manage 26 knots with less fuel. Once the upgrade was complete, the ferry actually managed 29 knots and the owner was delighted. It was really fun to see the ferry achieving even more than I had promised.
“The owner now makes a profit from the ferry and can rent it out — that was simply not possible before the upgrade. He’s really pleased and calls me quite often. Thanks to this upgrade, other water jet operators also call me to see if I have any suggestions for them. Shipping is a small world, and these kind of stories give you lots of opportunities.”
- Do you have a hidden talent?
“I don’t think I have any hidden talents but I’ve been windsurfing since I was 16 years old. My job gives me plenty of opportunities to practice this hobby. If the wind is particularly good one day, I can leave work earlier. Or I can work the weekend and take a day off in the week instead if the conditions look like they will be good. This freedom to organise my day-to-day work suits me perfectly.
“Sometimes I combine my hobby with customer visits. Most of my customers know that I like windsurfing so they are happy to meet on a Friday so that I can spend the weekend windsurfing. The board lives on the roof of my car, so why not? One customer even called one morning to ask if I wanted to postpone a meeting until the next day because the conditions for windsurfing were so good that day. It was a fun discussion!”