Can you tell us something about your company?
MARIN is a Dutch research institute. We work together with the global maritime industry to realize our goal: the development of cleaner, safer and smarter ships and sustainable use of the sea. Clean and safe water transport and sustainable energy production at sea require knowledge and innovation. Since our founding in 1932 MARIN has operated special test laboratories to conduct research into the behavior of ships and offshore structures. As early as 1970, MARIN extended its activities to include nautical research and training. Numerical models were validated with experimental work and allowed for the inclusion of the human factor into Full Mission Bridge Simulators and Vessel Traffic Simulators. Backed by years of model test experience and computational services, MARIN offers full scale measurements and monitoring services on board ships and offshore platforms world-wide since 1990. To better serve our international clients, MARIN decided to open a branch office in Houston, Texas in 1998 to provide our American clients direct support in their own time zone. MARIN employs a staff of 370.
Why did your company choose Texas?
Houston is the energy capital of the world. Many of our clients have offices in Houston. Their employees meet at lunches, birthday parties and local conferences. To know the research needs and interests of this vibrant community it is essential to become part of it. Since many companies involved in the maritime field are based in this city, many meetings are scheduled face to face and somewhat last minute. Following industry developments from the Netherlands proved to be unachievable with only brief exchanges during the overlapping working hours. To offer flexibility and support to our local clients, we maintain engineering capabilities in our Houston office. In 2015 we opened our first full mission bridge simulator in Houston to enable more input from mariners into design and verification studies. We currently operate three simulator bridges to train complex multi vessel operations such as, harbor entrances and offshore operations.
What kind of advice can you give to Dutch entrepreneurs who want to do business in Texas?
Don’t assume business is similar in Texas as it is in the Netherlands. When I first moved to Houston, I noticed it seemed easy to achieve consensus. Texans encourage others to pursue their ideas and often don’t like to rain on your parade. I’ve had to learn that the word “interesting” does not necessary mean that people are interested. Texans work hard and present themselves well and are generally less likely to ask for help. Just like everywhere else it takes time to learn the local business customs, so come to Texas for the long run.