Page 12: of Marine News Magazine (November 2020)
INSIGHTS going to be able to deliver you product? And who was go- ing to be open to accept delivery and pay for our products?
It was four to six weeks of sleepless nights.
My professional career spans 25 years, and I witnessed the early ’80s at Twin Disc and saw the oil and gas crisis then. This felt like that back in January/February, but once
COVID hit, I’ve never seen so many things come together.
This is truly a unique cycle in my lifetime, and probably in a few generations.
What were some of COVID-19’s effects in the com- mercial marine market?
Some of the markets that had been the most resilient were the inland market in the U.S. and Europe, as well as some of the coastal markets in Asia. Except for oil and gas, the economy was doing fairly well. We saw a lot of rail traf? c and a lot of shipping on the rivers, and once CO-
VID and the lockdown happened, that idled a lot of ves-
John Batten sels and other assets while people tried to determine what
Twin Disc was going to happen. That uncertainty postponed some
CEO, new construction as well as retro? ts and repairs. And that’s the biggest thing that we’ve seen that’s hit that commercial inland workboat market is a step drop in aftermarket parts
Twin Disc and rebuild, and some delaying of projects. Now, thank- fully, we’ve seen that come back. But that was the dead cat bounce of COVID-19 back in the March, April, May
How have major events such as the U.S./China trade timeframe. Things responded quickly and everything got war, oil price fall and COVID-19 impacted Twin Disc’s back to normal, but then people are wondering, “Do I re- commercial marine business to date, and what ad- ally need to invest in a repair or rebuild, or should I just justments have you made in response?
These are the three things that I’ve been highlighting in wait and see?” Through the summer we saw a lot of wait- employee communications and with investors over the last ing to see what was going to happen, and thankfully it’s few months. For us, COVID was just the third punch after picked up a little bit here in the last few weeks.
the other two. China is typically our second largest market
How do you see the health of the industry today? after the U.S., and we lost lots of orders to our competi-
Where are you looking for opportunities?
tors as the trade war started to affect us. It’s rebounding a little, but it de? nitely impacted our sales into China. The The strongest part of the commercial marine is still tied
Russia/OPEC oil price war didn’t help either. Offshore to the economy, just moving goods up and down through has been struggling for a few years, and the oil war killed our river system, whether it’s here, in Europe or in Asia. any momentum and certainly put the hurt on our onshore The market has been resilient, and that’s one of the reasons business, but that stabilized too. we were attracted to Veth, because we’re seeing a growing
We had been in a cost containment mode prior to CO- number of these applications going to azimuth thrusters
VID, so we were already doing some things to reduce our and potentially some hybrid or electric applications. We costs and restructure. We were ready and reacted quickly, are looking for any and all applications that we can in that but some of our customers and suppliers didn’t, and that— space, but particularly in the technology shift to the azi- besides getting everyone who could work from home to muth thrusters. More and more, we’re seeing that as the do so, and trying to ? gure out how to work safely in the future in the horsepower range. We’re not turning away shop—was by far the top thing that kept us up at night. any application, certainly, but we’re focusing on the tech-
What supplier was going to be able to deliver? Who was nology shift and making sure that we’re ready.
November 2020 12 MN