Interview with Piedroba: Spotlight on Consultancy Program

Piedroba Consulting Group (PCG), a Miami-based marine infrastructure consultancy firm with an emphasis on dredging, has reported revenue growth in 2017.

Dredging Today caught up recently with Piedroba partners, Jelle Prins and Luis Prieto y Munoz, to discuss the impact they project for 2018.

DT: Can you update us on the progress you have made with your standalone consultancy program as a service for dredging contract owners?

PCG (J. Prins): We have been very effective at significantly reducing risks for our clients. We have helped them to establish standardized procedures such as the conducting of adequate site investigation campaigns and subsequent presentation of data.

Throughout this year we’ve been able to fine-tune a full consultancy program that addresses all of the challenges that those seeking to procure dredging services face. We focused our efforts on the very early conceptual phases of a dredging project, as we find that project risks are best mitigated early on.

Clients who have managed dredging projects before see the value of having a process with proven risk mitigation strategies in place, as they know from experience the importance of addressing problem areas.

The governments, cruise lines, terminal operators, and others we consult for tend to have very established protocols and procedures for just about everything; from accounting to purchasing. It only makes sense to have those type of procedures for dredging as well.

DT: How has this consultancy program impacted Piedroba’s growth?

PCG (J. Prins): We anticipate it will continue to have a meaningful impact. We generally get retained when clients have a dredging need, and are well advanced in the planning or even building of their project. With this new product we expect to become proactive rather than reactive, and have more of an impact on the bottom-line figure that our clients spend on to procure dredging services.

We foresee the consequences to be twofold: first, we are already seeing satisfying results of the product itself, and we believe these results will attract more clients. On the other hand we feel that taking ownership of the successful project delivery from concept to project completion will allow us to be involved for a longer duration.

After Hurricane Irma, we were taking calls from various concerned private and public entities that were in need of having a strategy and plan in place to specifically address any potential emergency dredging needs in the aftermath of the storm. And for a good reason, our clients can’t afford to not have a safe and operational navigation channel, and you want to avoid paying a premium for a dredging service due to an unforeseen event. Our consultancy program addresses this issues.

DT: We have heard a lot about your new partnership with the Organization of American States (OAS) where you jointly host an Executive Dredging Seminar throughout The Americas. What can you tell us about this new venture?

PCG (Jelle Prins): We are very thankful for working with the OAS, and being able educate various Latin American countries on how to best manage their maritime projects.

We have receiving an overwhelming response to this recent initiative. The two Seminars we hosted this fall in Peru and the Dominican Republic were well attended, interactive, and overall a pleasant experience.

The Seminar attendants are a mix of high level government officials, navy representatives, port authorities, private terminal operators, and legal professionals. With little to no dredging education available throughout Latin America and limited access to dredging knowhow, the Seminar is a welcome tool. We feel privileged to be put in a position where we can make a difference through sharing our dredging expertise, and we are honored to have been invited by Panama’s Minister of Maritime Affairs to host our next seminar this upcoming April.

DT: In May, Piedroba and the Worldbank hosted a Studytour on Performance Based-Contracting for dredging. How does Piedroba see the future of applying this contracting vehicle to dredging projects?

PCG (L. Prieto y Munoz):  Economies benefit from inexpensive transportation of goods, and import and export via water remains the most cost-effective option. The ever-increasing vessel sizes necessitates dredging at many ports, as shallow or shoaled in channels limit a port’s ability to service an economy.

Applying Performance Based – Contracting for dredging projects offers economic stability to our clients as channel depths are guaranteed by the dredging contractor. We find that many public and private entities seeking to procure for dredging services appreciate the business-driven solution Performance-Based Contracting presents.

In today’s dredging industry only a handful Performance-Based Contracts are in place, though we see the implementation of this contracting vehicle to amplify in the next decade.

DT: What can Piedroba’s role be here?

PCG (L. Prieto y Munoz): We’ve been fortunate to have been involved in or exposed to the few dredging contracts where Performance Based-Contracting was used, and we’ve been working hard to understand the lessons learned and how to best structure these types of contracts.

Performance-Based Contracting doesn’t necessarily work well for all seeking to dredge their channel, though with the right elements in place it surely can be the most attractive option. Being able to assess the dredged volumes within reason, and adequate risk allocation are two of those factors.

PCG encourages the long term strategic partnerships between contract owner and dredging contractor based on value and benefits. We’ve had many discussions this year with different entities exploring the Performance-Based Contracting option, and being on the forefront of this movement we are committed to offering guidance and assistance where needed.