Norwegian PASSER Group AS acquired SIDC Group UAB in 2020 with the aim of transforming the Klaipeda-based company into a full-service EPCI provider with full value chain control. “The deciding factor for PASSER was that SIDC was a perfect fit with its targeted development strategy,” says Arnoldas Laurisonis, Marketing Director of PASSER SIDC Group.

“We caught PASSER’s attention mainly because of our convenient location in the Baltic and our attractive cost base. They have been impressed with SIDC’s strong track record since the company was founded 10 years ago, and we have also proven our ability to successfully manage and deliver very large offshore and shipbuilding projects,” says Laurisonis.

“Klaipeda has been the base of PASSER’s manufacturing activity since our beginnings and we have developed an extensive network with local cooperation partners. PASSER SIDC established itself as a highly competent partner with a great ability to execute these demanding projects before becoming part of the PASSER group family. Their background and our relationship with the company contributed to our decision to acquire PASSER SIDC and continue our operations in Klaipeda. Many years of great cooperation with competent local companies were the deciding factor,” adds Espen Brudal, Business Development Manager of PASSER Group.

“We see Klaipeda as a city with a well-established industry that matches our business, plus there is a good pool of experienced and skilled people. The geographical location is also relatively close to the head office of the PASSER group in Sandefjord. The location is well suited for shipping to our customers, making it ideal for our solutions,” he says.

‘Common values’
Laurisonis says it was great news when PASSER announced it wanted to acquire the company. “Everyone was excited because of the opportunities it would bring in terms of new and interesting work. Also, we were all relieved that the buyer was Norwegian. As Lithuanians, we identify closely with Scandinavian culture and values.

The main activities of the company today include the design and construction of steel structures for the renewable energy and offshore oil and gas industry, as well as the construction, repair and modernization of ships.

Shipbuilding success
“Previously, we only made parts for new vessels, before building our first complete vessel three years ago – the multipurpose catamaran service vessel Runa – just before the takeover of PASSER,” explains Laurisonis. SIDC undertook the complete drafting and coordination of the vessel design, hull and fittings installation, all sea trials and delivery to the client.

“The client, Groupe Boréal, was satisfied. The project demonstrated the quality of our ship design and engineering capabilities here in Klaipeda,” says Laurisonis. The vessel can be modified for use as an aquaculture service vessel, for oil recovery operations, crew transport, dock construction, tug duties, fishing, offshore research, underwater work. sailors or for recreational purposes.

SKIP SIDC also acquired a Dutch shipyard last year as part of its continued expansion. “We have ongoing contracts for four ships and 10 ship hull blocks that require special facilities, but all operations will be administered from Klaipeda,” says Laurisonis.

Opening new markets
With strong support from PASSER, the company is strengthening the local economy with more new jobs. “We also aim to focus on the renewable energy market as a business development priority. Lithuania is maturing in terms of wind and solar energy, and we can help develop the sector with specialized products and engineering services. The opening of opportunities in this market is another reason why PASSER decided to buy us,” says Laurisonis.

PASSER SIDC is also engaged in the construction of a large state-of-the-art pulp mill in Uruguay and Finland, including the construction and installation of seven process tanks up to 70 meters in height. “We are leveraging our skill base all the way to South America with a strong team of Klaipeda specialists working on site,” says Laurisonis.

New factory in preparation
The company is also establishing new workshops in Klaipeda which will be used for product assembly. “It was easy to find a suitable site close to the port and we expect to complete the construction work this year,” says Laurisonis. PASSER SIDC’s ambition for the new plant is to double its turnover serving its main European markets.

Klaipeda’s established maritime cluster is of no immediate importance in terms of customers. “At the moment we have a lot of international orders, so we are not so dependent on the local market. However, we have an ongoing research development project with the University of Klaipeda which is investigating tank containment systems for hydrogen. It’s a good example of how we work with the knowledge base and I’m sure there will be more opportunities for collaboration in the future,” says Laurisonis.

Do business easily
What he emphasizes is the city’s business-friendly environment. “We definitely recommend Klaipeda as an attractive location for other Nordic companies wishing to establish operations, especially because of the well-functioning port and the good infrastructure. The bureaucracy is really easy compared to 10 or 20 years ago. There are also many consulting companies that help start-ups and foreign companies that want to invest here,” says Laurisonis.

He highlights the growing popularity of technology parks in Lithuania. “For example, the Klaipeda Science and Technology Park is very active in promoting innovation in green and blue marine technologies, including the local LNG cluster, while the second phase of the Baltic Tech Park is now underway with a new building housing the SMK University of Applied Social Studies. Science,” he says. Klaipeda Seaport is also working hard to develop new business, especially offshore wind energy in the Baltic.

Recruiting the right people has not been a major problem. “Depending on the field, finding a local professional with the relevant technical training and specialist experience in just a few weeks can be a challenge – as is the case across Europe. We have been successful in growing our team both by hiring locally and by bringing in qualified people from elsewhere, particularly from Ukraine,” says Laurisonis.

Strong talent pool
Almost all local engineers at PASSER SIDC are graduates of the University of Klaipeda, so there is a good pool of young people determined to advance their careers. “There is also another big university in Kaunas. Some of our engineers practically grew up in the company. The big advantage is that we have a very low staff turnover rate,” explains Laurisonis, who himself joined SIDC six years ago as a graduate.

Laurisonis highlights Klaipeda’s safe living environment, which is perfect for families and children. “It’s easy to get around, everyone speaks English, and we have lots of cultural and leisure options. I have lived in Klaipeda all my life and love spectacular nature. People who move here never want to leave! he concludes.

“Everyone involved in the promotion of Klaipeda was very happy when PASSER Group invested in the purchase of SIDC Group,” comments Diana Manko, business manager at the city development agency Klaipeda ID. “Their presence strengthens our industrial and naval base as well as our expertise in the renewable energy sector. We wish them much success as part of our growing maritime cluster with global reach.

Maritime stakeholders interested in learning more about doing business in Klaipeda should contact the Klaipeda ID team for a free online consultation.