Quality service

-- FROM THE FULL PICTURE MAGAZINE -- As a leading supplier of rental equipment to the offshore marine construction industry in the Gulf of Mexico, ETS relies on a global network of quality equipment manufacturers and a strong focus on quality service.

Established in 2001, Equipment & Technical Services (ETS) began with two experienced offshore veterans with a common vision. "We recognised a market for renting quality equipment to the deepwater marine construction market," says co-founder Mike Knight, vice president ETS. "But we knew from our experience in the industry that supplying equipment wasn't enough – we had to offer quality service."According to Andy Bogle, president ETS, the company filled a promising niche. "Rapid developments in deep water marine construction in the Gulf of Mexico created demand for certain specialised equipment which was difficult to find locally," explains Bogle, "By making this equipment available on a rental basis and by offering comprehensive technical support, we provided a cost effective alternative for subsea contractors."

Strong market

Today, the Gulf of Mexico is one of the busiest deepwater regions in the world, dotted with undeveloped deepwater energy reserves. Its proximity to the world's strongest energy market (the United States), a stable political condition and a fully developed regional infrastructure have created one of the world's most dynamic energy markets. By most estimates, the sector will continue to expand for the next five years, creating increased demand for equipment and deepwater expertise.

Bogle explains that marine construction companies usually require deep-water surveying equipment for a limited time (between one and three months) on a specific project. While this equipment is available for purchase, many companies prefer to avoid ownership costs, such as maintenance, equipment storage and depreciation. "Renting creates a cost benefit, but unless we have the capacity to deliver value-added services and technical support, we won't get the business."

Comprehensive services

Today, ETS offers a growing range of products, including gyros, transponders, DP beacons, cameras, attitude sensors, and systems for subsea acoustics, video telemetry, inertial positioning, and mulitbeam data acquisition (among other systems) manufactured by a global network of quality suppliers. This equipment is for rent, sale or can be leased on a trial basis. Depending on customer needs, ETS also provides consulting services, recommending an equipment package to help the customer achieve an optimal solution for a specific project. "It's not enough to simply warehouse equipment and rent it out," says Knight. "We provide our customers with a complete solution, including training and support, so they can get the job done."

While Bogle acknowledges that the offshore market in the Gulf of Mexico is strong, he notes that deepwater marine construction remains a capital intensive industry. "Contractors have no patience for missed deadlines or down time," he says. "If the beacon doesn't work, the ROV doesn't work then the boat doesn't work, pipelines don't get laid and the whole project is delayed."

Technical service

For this reason, ETS remains focussed on technical training and quality maintenance. "All of our technical personnel receive hands-on technical training on specific products and we make sure they spend time interacting with customers so they become familiar with their concerns," says Bogle. "When we get a contract, we make sure the equipment arrives on time, is in perfect working condition and offer support available 24/7 to manage any issues."

Selecting quality equipment manufacturers has also played a large role in the company's success. ETS primarily responds to equipment demands from customers, but they value long-term relationships with key suppliers – including KONGSBERG. "We have enjoyed a great relationship with KONGSBERG," says Bogle. "In addition to manufacturing best-in-class equipment, they offer strong support and training programmes."

Long term partnerships

Bogle notes that ETS was among the first in the Gulf of Mexico to offer some KONGSBERG equipment types. For example, ETS pioneered the introduction of new KONGSBERG technology such as the HAIN inertial system and the HiPAP350P. To support these and other KONGSBERG equipment, all but one of the company's technical service personnel have received training from KONGSBERG facilities in Aberdeen. "If there is a problem aboard a vessel here in the Gulf, we don't want to have to call Norway – we have to be able to manage the project ourselves," says Bogle. "Access to KONGSBERG's training facilities allows us to provide support for certain product lines."

ETS also offers customers three-day courses specialising in subsea construction four times a year, including a one-day course focusing on KONGSBERG's popular APOS systems software and High Precision Acoustic Positioning (HiPAP 350) systems. "KONGSBERG is recognised for strong product development, and we want to be able to offer our customers the most advanced equipment," says Bogle. "With KONGSBERG behind us, we feel we can conquer the world."

Knight, who remembers doing invoices for the company from his own kitchen table, says establishing ETS required a lot of hard work and personal investment, but it's been worth it. Today, ETS employs about 18 individuals, who work out of a 8,000 square foot office space in Houston, Texas, and has recently provided equipment to companies operating in South America and West Africa. "Investing personal capital in your own business tends to focus one's attention on the customer," says Knight. "The company has been a success, but we always remember where we came from."