A challenging work space

Hans Durinck is the new Managing Director of Katoen Natie’s Zeeland Container Terminal – Westerschelde as of 1 May. He is looking forward to this new role at the company he joined in 2018.

Q: Mr Durinck, can you tell us something about your professional background?
A: After graduating in Logistic Engineering at HZ Universityof Applied Sciences, I started to work for Maersk Line.I was mainly based in Antwerp, but also worked at their Rotterdam office for a few years. At Maersk I had various roles within the operations and commercial department, starting as Equipment Coordinator to Flow Manager, M & R manager, and finally CS Export Manager. I went to Katoen Natie to become Commercial Manager Port Operations in2018. Since January 2020 I have been working as Business Development Manager and since 1 May of this year, I am fulfilling my new role as Managing Director of the Zeeland Container Terminal at North Sea Port.

Q: You have always operated in shipping and logistics. Why?
A: Indeed, whilst Maersk Line and Katoen Natie are very different companies, both are operational in the shipping and logistics industry. Throughout the years I have always enjoyed working in these sectors. It is very dynamic and constanly changing. Shipping and logistics are relevant and ever-present. The recent impact of Brexit and the Suez canal incident are just two examples of this. It may be a cliché but without shipping, the economy will soon come to a halt.

Q: Your roots lie in Zeeuws-Vlaanderen, but you have always worked outside of Zeeland. Are you glad to be back?
A: Growing up in East Zeeuws-Vlaanderen, it is hard not to be Antwerp-orientated for cultural and leisure activities. So after finishing my shipping orientated education, it was somewhat logical that I started working in Antwerp. Now I am older, with a partner and kids, I am more and more aware of the fact that life in Zeeland is very pleasant and has a lot to offer, not only as a place to live but also for work. It is important that this province keeps all the necessary facilities such as education, but also becomes an even more attractive region for businesses. This is necessary for this and future generations. So yes, I am happy to work in Zeeuws-Vlaanderen and I hope to be able to help make the region even stronger. North Sea Port is rapidly growing, which means that shipping is becoming a more stable and important economical pillar for Zeeland, too.

Q: What do you like about working for Katoen Natie?
A: Although operational on a worldwide scale with braches all over the globe in many different sectors from petrochemicals to art, Katoen Natie is still a real Flemish company with a horizontal organisation, short lines, and the capability to act fast when necessary. Next to this, as a provider of a broad scope of value-adding logistics services, Katoen Natie is a challenging work place for everyone with an entrepreneurial spirit.

Q: You have a lot of experience in working for Belgian companies. Do you notice any big differences between people from Belgium and the Netherlands?
A: Belgian people, or Flemish to be more precise, and Dutch people share the same language, but meanwhile there are also lots of differences. This means that one way or the other, you must realise, and adapt to, these cultural differences. This is however not a bad thing and despite,or perhaps even thanks to the differences, I have always enjoyed working in Belgium. Once the initial reservations are gone, you’ll soon find the similarities on a personal level.

Q: What do you expect from your new work place?
A: The Zeeland Container Terminal is already an excellent operating terminal. Today’s focus lies on barging products from Dow to the port of Rotterdam and Antwerp. The terminal is located at the Braakmanhaven, with sufficient draught and no locks, which is why I see ample chances for expanding towards other customers and products, as well as to short sea shipping. Around the terminal we have space available for further expansion for handling and storing containers, so this should not hinder any future plans. But first, I want to get to know all the ins and outs of the terminal and my colleagues there, and I also want to work on my North Sea Port business network.

Q: What do you think of the chances of North Sea Port and Zeeland Container Terminal with regard to short sea shipping?
A: With the large deepsea container ports being more or less controlled by only a small number of large carriers, ports like North Sea Port can profit from feeder services, short sea lines, and niche carriers that have specific needs for taking care of their shipments. North Sea port has a different value proposition than our surrounding ports. The large container ports such as Rotterdam and Antwerp are facing congestion on roads and inland waterways, which makes them less attractive for certain flows. Since the merger, North Sea Port has been promoting itself as a short sea port, which has already resulted in the expansion of shortsea shipping to and from other terminals. This will help us to expand our services towards this market.

Portnews HansDurinck HR 1
Photo courtesy of Scherp! Fotografie.