There is a slew of seafarers and other maritime crew hirers around, yet OJ Crew, a Klaipeda and Riga-based International HR management service provider for the Maritime, Oil and Gas sectors, is certainly playing the first fiddle in the Baltics and looks forward to expanding in the Caribbean and Indonesia in 2023. “OJ Crew is not just another HR service company. It is much more than that – headhunting and delivering of personnel is just a basic point OJ Crew can provide. Crew Management, Technical Management, Payroll, Vessel Delivery, Newbuild Projects, Offshore & Onshore Projects, these and many more are to be completed to satisfy the needs of our clients,” Artur Trus, OJ Crew Managing Director/CEO, told The Baltic Times Magazine.
What makes OJ Crew so special?
First of all, our attitude is that we do not have competitors around us – only partners. We bring value to our clients by way of the innovation of services provided. In fact, we often do that through partnerships with other similar service providers or subcontractors.
The OJC partnership model focuses on careful research and understanding our clients’ business requirements and culture, and the sophisticated application of market knowledge to source high calibre candidates. Our clients get the benefit of having a single point of contact for a custom-tailored, professional approach to search and selection campaigns.
Yet, nowadays, the level of globalisation is so high that, often, a single company can handle different projects around the world. And this is where we come – we can offer combined solutions to our clients with local content. In addition to our core services, we also provide additional services, like OJ Travel solution for crew changes (flights, accommodation, transport, etc.), QHSE services, Payroll expertise, Tax advisory, and Budget control; when necessary, repairs, as well as food and technical supply, also we send experienced captains to vessels of our clients for internal audit inspections and so on. All at one spot with lots of additional value given to our clients. So, OJ Crew is more than just recruitment!
OJ Crew has its highest standards of recruitment and enforces strict quality control at all recruitment stages. Our own massive pool of experienced seafarers is a guarantee of loyalty and performance of your future crew from OJ Crew. During the recruitment process, prior to presenting any candidate to the client, OJ Crew arranges a very complex full screening process for a seafarer to pass and to prove their qualifications. The goal of OJ Crew is to completely annihilate any risk to our clients and provide service which gives them a “smooth flow” in reaching their short- and long-term HR objectives.
We always start from basics, but we think of our crew members – those already hired or in the process of employment – throughout the process, sending the message to any client, wherever he or she is: we’re bringing value and expertise to them regardless of the sector.
We conduct ourselves with professionalism, accountability, and work excellence, continuously striving to identify the best recruitment practice procedures whilst performing at the highest industry standards. We tend to listen to and hear our clients' needs, understand their challenges, and provide solutions that are positively noticeable.
Our goal is and remains to provide our clients with exceptional quality service based on an individual approach with a notch of added value in every step. We intend to thoroughly understand our clients’ business and operations, analyse their needs and challenges, and become our clients’ tool of success. We are here to bring the change and know-how, we are here to deliver the result.
Are you present in all three Baltic States?
Our main hubs are in Klaipeda, the Lithuanian Baltic port, and in Riga, the Latvian capital and a port too. Regarding Estonia, we have a very reliable partner there that represents us.
Over the last two years, the world has been hit by two major crises, rolling each on the other. I mean the COVID-19 pandemic and then war in Ukraine. How did they affect your company?
I’d like to answer your question with a little discourse into our company’s history. When OJ Crew was founded in 2013, we chose a route of continuous aggressive development and rapid growth, a route that allowed us to grow over the years in size, knowledge and well beyond the Baltics. Now, OJ Crew successfully provides its services to Clients in Eastern & Western Europe, China, the Middle East, Africa, Brazil, and Singapore. OJ Crew’s philosophy of thorough examination of every single case allows us to present the most effective “roadmap” and follow it maximizing benefits to our clients. So, to answer your question, any challenge that comes along the way, is seen by us as a workable challenge, which we take on with enthusiasm, expertise and know-how. Of course, the pandemic was a challenge no one could foresee, yet, by employing our OJ Travel, we, unlike some of our competitors, were able to sail through it quite well.
Certainly, the war created another kind of challenge – there was a shortage of Russian and Ukrainian crew supply at one point, yet we managed to solve the issue by optimising our resources and, thus, having the clients satisfied. Since war broke out, we stopped hiring Russian nationals, however, but those who were employed by us before, continue working – responsibly and hard and the majority has the proper mind set and, importantly, the vast majority has been with us for many years. Some of our clients still work in the Russian Federation, thence the other reason to keep the crew.
When it comes to Ukrainians, before the war, approximately 40 percent of all our crew were Ukrainians, with approximately 2 000 Ukrainians being hired every year to work on vessels. In the wake of war, the rate dropped to approximately 20 percent, yet, lately, the number is increasing as the Ukrainian government allows Ukrainians to leave the country and make money for their families and the state itself. Ukrainians are really qualified, responsible, hard-working seafarers – no client ever said otherwise.
Are you looking to expand beyond the region in 2023?
Currently, we are working on the Caribbean direction which we call OJ Crew Caribbean. We expect to have our office in Trinidad and Tobago in the new year. We are expanding there in response to a lot of oil fields there. In another exciting development, we are in negotiations over taking over one Indonesian maritime crew company and, after the process is over, we will establish our branch there too. The crew hired there will provide maritime services for international vessels in the Far East, mostly along the Indonesian coastline, another exciting opportunity for us.
To spice up the interview, can you provide some statistical numbers proving your capacity and capabilities?
Roughly, from 2000 to 2500 new hires are added yearly to OJ Crew who work on multinational vessels all over the world. The active pool we’ve had for years now is around 700 people, meaning they work on a permanent basis. Importantly, we’re averaging 45 percent yearly growth in every category we operate in, be it offshore/oil & gas or maritime/renewables.
Our entire team consists of dedicated and results-driven personnel. They are well-trained and supported to provide excellent service. They draw on strong recruitment backgrounds and extensive networks to find the best available candidates. No matter which sector you operate in, we believe the dividends are made up of details. That's why, foremost, we make sure we understand the objectives and goals of our clients and candidates alike.
Kanto 22 - 2, 2nd Floor Klaipėda 92237 Lithuania
Latvia • RIGA
Duntes Str. 28-107 Riga 92237 Latvia