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John Crane Asset Management rising to the challenge

The boss at John Crane Asset Management Solutions (JCAMS) isn’t afraid of a challenge, which is just as well.

John Morrison has been tasked with growing the division’s revenues tenfold by the top brass at parent John Crane Group – by 2023.

Mr Morrison, who has worked in oil and gas for more than 35 years, will approach his mission in a number ways.

JCAMS, which had revenues of £4.89 million for the year to July 31 2018, recently moved into a new base in Aberdeen, relocating its people to the No1 Exchange Building on Market Street.

Mr Morrison said the new digs gave JCAMS 50% more space to work with, compared to the previous location at Centurion Court on North Esplanade West.

Mr Morrison, whose previous employers include BP and Petrofac, said the previous base was “suitable at the time”, as it allowed JCAMS to keep overheads down while servicing clients.

He said the current commercial property market landscape in Aberdeen meant the move came at a good time, as JCAMS got a decent price.

The company has more than 50 employees at the new office, which can accommodate almost 100.

Mr Morrison expects to fill that space over the next “couple of years”, making Aberdeen a “centre of excellence” which supports the firm’s expansion.

Mr Morrison also said JCAMS would recruit in a controlled manner to make sure the right people come aboard.

He said: “Aberdeen is a buyer’s market. There are more people than jobs. But the market is picking up, so we need to be an attractive place to work. At the same time, we do not want to grow too quickly and have wrong people on board.

“That’s the challenge. It’s about maintaining the quality. That will be a controlling factor.”

JCAMS, which has a handful of people in London, is also growing by tapping into the huge customer base of John Crane – a mechanical seals specialist owned by global technology firm Smiths Group – and offering them services.

Mr Morrison said a recent contract win with Phillips 66 in the US was an example of that plan in action.

Phillips 66 already bought John Crane seals, and decided JCAMS would be the best candidate to come up with a reliability-based maintenance strategy at its refinery in Texas.

Two JCAMS employees from Aberdeen moved out to the US before another seven people were recruited locally at the division’s base in Pasadena, Houston.

Mr Morrison said JCAMS could replicate this approach in other regions – win a contract, deploy Aberdeen employees to “implant” the company’s DNA, then draw from the local workforce.

JCAMS wants to expand its footprint into the Middle East and Asia Pacific, he said. The business also wants to set up shop in Brazil, but Mr Morrison feels an acquisition would be the best way of entering that mature market.

John Crane did acquire asset manager XPD8 Solutions in 2015 from Aberdeen’s Mark Cavanagh and integrated its team of experts into what is now known as JCAMS.

Mr Morrison said JCAMS had examined acquisition opportunities in Aberdeen more recently, but he said: “We decided they were too similar, so we did not buy them.

“If we’re going to do an acquisition, it needs to be something that will complement our service offering or get us into another region more quickly.”

Aberdeen’s market is picking up for JCAMS and other supply chain firms after some lean years, he said.

“We’re getting contacted more. In the ‘good old days’ work used to come to you. Then everyone went through lean times, with operators internalising a lot of functions. Now the phone is ringing more,” he said.

JCAMS kept itself busy during the past few years.

It won contracts to provide condition-based maintenance services for Repsol Sinopec Resources UK and Apache, and did some work for Dana Petroleum.

And JCAMS has just finished a maintenance build contract for the Culzean project, which is operated by Total E&P UK and is expected to come on stream soon.

Mr Morrison said getting the right balance between servicing existing customers while attracting new ones was vital.

“Your existing clients are the most important,” he said. “You cannot forget about them. Our global growth won’t dilute that.”

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Craigmill, Pitcaple, Inverurie, Aberdeenshire, United Kingdom, AB51 5HP
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