Norsafe CEO named entrepreneur of the year

Making waves in the field of safety at sea

Photo courtesy of Norsafe  Alexander Skaala (Geir Skaala’s son, center) accepting the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year award on behalf of his father.

Photo courtesy of Norsafe
Alexander Skaala (Geir Skaala’s son, center) accepting the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year award on behalf of his father.

Rasmus Falck
Oslo, Norway

Norsafe Group’s CEO and founder Geir Skaala was awarded Ernst & Young’s Entrepreneur of the Year in the Norwegian national final. He won the regional finals for the south of Norway earlier last year, where he was chosen as the winner out of 320 candidates. According to the jury, Skaala, with his enthusiasm for the employees, the company, and the industry, was a worthy winner.

Norsafe, based at Tromøya in Arendal is one of the world’s largest manufacturers of lifeboats, and is a major producer of free-fall lifeboats and fast rescue boats. The family-owned business is now also focusing on the production of military and professional boats. Skaala has been in the lifeboat business his whole life, and has built Norsafe into the company it is today since its establishment in 1987. Today the group has more than 1,200 employees.

Photo courtesy of Norsafe  One of the company’s lifeboats, the GES50 MKIII (Gravity Escape System) approaches the surface in a test. The free-fall lifeboats are some of the best in the world.

Photo courtesy of Norsafe
One of the company’s lifeboats, the GES50 MKIII (Gravity Escape System) approaches the surface in a test. The free-fall lifeboats are some of the best in the world.

The company’s strategy is to design and develop high-quality products in consulting with wide groups including customers, equipment users, and regulatory authorities. Norsafe was the first European lifeboat manufacturer to invest in full production facilities in China; they also have a full production unit in Greece, an advanced davit manufacturer site in the west of Norway, and a wholly-owned subsidiary in the U.S. These production opportunities allow them to lower overall costs for the customers, while still maintaining stringent quality control. They also have built a service network with hubs in most key ports. Norsafe manufactures the largest free-fall lifeboat in the world, certified for a drop height of 47 meters, and has also received several Design Awards for its products.

According to the jury, the entrepreneur has, through tough priorities and strategic choices, developed the business into the world’s largest in its industry. Innovative and technically advanced products customized to its market has been the key to success. The entrepreneur has established a winning culture in an innovative business, which makes it well positioned for further growth. “We create safety at sea. It’s a vocation for us to contribute to improved safety on ships and rigs,” said Aleksander Skaala when he received the prize on behalf of his father.

A recent study of accidents with lifeboats concluded that five out of seven accidents were related to the crew’s lack of knowledge. To improve the competence of crew onboard ships and offshore installations is an important next step to enhance the safety of seafarers. Early this year Norsafe will be opening a new training center in Rosendal, located between Bergen and Stavanger, in the heart of the Norwegian oil and gas industry.

Geir Skaala will represent Norway in the international finals in Monaco in June. Lots of luck!

This article originally appeared in the Jan. 9, 2015, issue of the Norwegian American Weekly. To subscribe, visit SUBSCRIBE or call us at (206) 784-4617.

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