‘A job well done gives a great deal of satisfaction’

AYOP aims to highlight the diversity in work in offshore, both to create more awareness of the sector and attract more people, and to give the employees the recognition they deserve. The first series focuses on five companies.

Previously, we published an interview with Marcel and Chris from Equans, and Jordy d’Hondt and Torben Verleg from Bluestream. This time we speak to Dennie Koningstein (35) who works as a logistics manager for DHSS in Den Helder. Dennie previously served in the Dutch Army and Royal Netherlands Navy before transferring to DHSS 11 years ago where he took various courses including a training as Declarant. As logistics manager, Dennie now heads a team of 15 people and is responsible for special logistical operations related to customs, cross-border transportation and legislation. He also maintains contact with clients about (future) partnerships.

How did you join DHSS?

“I started here when I was 24. Before that I was in the Army, but after five years I wanted something new. I was introduced to the owner Wim Schouwenaar and he asked me to join DHSS. Although I was new to the job and had zero experience, Wim immediately got me started as a helicopter freight-dispatcher at Den Helder Airport, where DHSS has an office.”

What exactly did you do there?

“Some 30 to 40 helicopter flights depart from the airport in Den Helder to various production platforms at sea every day. I made sure the cargo for each flight was reported to customs, that all the papers were ready and the right weight registered per shipment. I gradually climbed the ladder within DHSS and am now logistics manager.”

What does the job entail?

“I’m responsible for the daily management of a group of 15 logistics account handlers at the logistics hub of DHSS in Den Helder. For the other offices I act as a sparring partner in the field of logistics and customs. I’m fascinated by the customs process and have taken various courses in the field. People often see customs and legislation as a boring subject but it’s actually a crucial part of the logistical process – especially when you work in an international market such as the offshore energy sector. The expertise I have built up means I’m regularly contacted by colleagues and clients alike, especially in unique cases.”

Could you give us an example?

“Last year I chartered two Antonov aircraft for a client; these are the largest cargo planes in the world. It was a complex task as we had to pick items up in Norway, Italy and the Netherlands and then bring them together in Belgium before sending to Curacao. There were strict deadlines, too, so we were happy when everything reached its final destination on time.”

You’re in logistics. Is that the core business of DHSS?

“It is one of the branches of the company. DHSS was originally a shipping agent but over the years it continued to expand and diversify. We now also do logistics at the heliport in Den Helder, have a large warehouse, and help clients tranship goods. In fact, we’re involved in all facets of the maritime world that require any type of logistics.”

This is a series on professions in offshore companies. Would you consider DHSS to be one of them?

“We’re not really an offshore company, although we do serve the offshore sector. A spider in the web you might say. When a work vessel arrives in the port we ensure that the crew can disembark and have tickets to fly home, for instance. Or take yesterday: an offshore worker had broken his hand and we booked the helicopter and arranged a taxi to take him to hospital. So while we may not be at sea ourselves, we are a crucial link in the offshore energy chain.”

Take us through your workday.

“I always start with a morning meeting with my team before we set to work. We work in accordance with the same principle every day: we have logistic demands in our mailbox and must consider how best to meet them. Today, for example, we have to get two large 8000 kg cable drums from Krimpen aan de IJssel to a vessel in Den Helder. We have therefore contacted the exporter in Krimpen aan de IJssel, booked a truck to get the drums to Den Helder, maintained contact with our client in Dubai in the meantime, informed the receiving vessel in Den Helder, arranged the customs declaration and settled any payments. And we do this kind of thing several times a day.”

 That makes it quite an international process?

“Absolutely. I’m in contact with our regular suppliers in the UK and Norway on an almost daily basis. Beyond that, it ranges from Singapore to Malaysia and Australia. Many of these companies have been partners for years and we’ve built up great relationships with them.”

What do you enjoy most in your work?

“When a project is successful. Sometimes the puzzles are quite complex and we have to deal with many different companies – seven or eight parties worldwide for a single project. It‘s always a good feeling when you get everything done within the deadline and the client is happy.”

What skills do you need for this position?

“It is important to think in solutions and to realise you are providing the client with a service. You can gradually learn exactly how the logistical processes work as long as you have an inquisitive and keen attitude.”

Could the work be done from nine to five?

“Well, it is a demanding job. We sometimes have to be reachable in the evening or at night, especially when there are time differences with clients abroad. But this is rewarded, too: there’s a good salary, extra time is always paid for, and we receive a profit distribution at the end of the year. DHSS takes care of us very well and should get something in return.”

You started in the Army and ended up in this field – would you recommend it to others?

“Yes, for sure. It’s a fun, diverse job and getting things done well gives a lot of satisfaction. I started at the bottom of the ladder and was given the opportunity to grow and learn through as many courses as I wanted. In addition, it’s a very informal yet professional world where you often run into the same people. So, yes, I’m very happy I made the switch 11 years ago.”