A day in the life of..

Shareholder Sumitomo Corporation

We had a chat with our close contact David Rodgers | Department General Manager, Line Pipe at Sumitomo Corporation Europe Ltd.   

Here is what he had to say . .

Please tell us a little bit about yourself
I originally come from a small town near Belfast in Northern Ireland (I am not “English” – although I love them all dearly!). An interesting fact about me? Well, I love opera, classic cars and golf. Not necessarily to be in that order!

I studied at Sheffield University in England for a Chemical Engineering & German degree. Immediately on graduation, I started in an Operations role at the Blast Furnaces of British Steel Scunthorpe Works in the North of England.

From there I moved within British Steel (by this time it was Corus) into a commercial role in London, involved in steel Line Pipe and OCTG trading for the Oil & Gas industry. In 2009 I ‘jumped ship’ to join Sumitomo Corporation Europe Ltd., where I am now the Department General Manager for Mid Stream (Offshore Line Pipe).

..and about Sumitomo Corporation
Sumitomo Corporation is a Japanese multi-national conglomerate that began trading in Japan after World War II through exporting industrial products and importing natural resources. Since then our business has dramatically expanded to include steel goods, automobiles, shipping, aerospace, chemicals, mineral resources and various other products (I was once told we trade in “everything from noodles to satellites”).

Over the years we have built an extensive global network which we have utilized to expand trade activities with many other countries outside of Japan, with our six business units and regional organizations all over the world working closely together. As part of this varied trading business structure, Sumitomo Corporation Europe Ltd. is the mainoperating unit in Europe.

The following are just some basic facts about Sumitomo Corporation (as at 31 st March 2018):

  • Shareholder Equity : US$ 24.1 billion
  • Net Income : US$ 2.9 billion
  • Number of Employees (consolidated basis) : 73,016
  • Number of Consolidated Subsidiaries and Associated Companies : 947

The part of Sumitomo Corporation that has invested in Strohm is the TUBULAR PRODUCTS Business Unit. We are already a market leading supplier of OCTG and Line Pipe to the energy industry. Our mission is to be at the forefront of the digital revolution sweeping our industry and to promote value adding products and services to our current and future customers. Strohm product and business model clearly fits into and enables in part this mission to take flight.

Just for your interest; in 2019 Sumitomo Corporation celebrated its centennial year. Looking forward to the next 100 years, we shall continue to aim for stable and continuous growth, as well as to maintain our unceasing challenge for new value creation.

Why did Sumitomo Corporation invest in Strohm?
Despite having 947 Subsidiaries and Associated Companies worldwide, Sumitomo Corporation should not be seen as an investment bank or a private equity investor. We look to invest strategicallywhere there are real synergies with our already existing business and customer assets.

From this point of view there are three main incentives for our investment into Strohm:

1. To enable us to provide new technology to our existing customer assets, to respond to
innovative cost reduction
2. To expand the value chain in a growth field
3. To create new business opportunities through discovery and development of new
technologies through networks with industry majors.

Ultimately, being alongide the other investors as a significant shareholder in Strohm helps Sumitomo Corporation to become more of a ‘market insider’, and Strohm and Sumitomo Corporation together can combine strengths and products for a total infield solution.

What is your view on TCP technology?
Having a background in engineering, and having worked with steel products my whole career, I am personally very interested and challenged to be fully immersed into the world of Thermoplastic Composite Pipe (TCP), and very excited by our investment in Strohm; the world’s leading manufacturer of fully bonded TCP for the oil and gas industry.

Every time I come to IJmuiden and have the chance to engage with anyone there about the product, I am always enthused about it and the possibilities it creates.

When performing our due diligence, one of the things that really caught my attention (and what I am always impressing onto my colleagues) is that the product is fully bonded. Thinking that through to how it can be applied in the field and the benefits this single characteristic alone brings, makes me excited and surely leads to pick-up and adoption in the market.

How is the collaboration with Strohm and Sumitomo Corporation going so far?
Sumitomo and Strohm have been working as commercial partners for the past few years, and now we see Strohm reaching a ‘tipping point’ in the take-up of its value adding products. The shared vision we have is to accelerate the commercialization of Strohm, connecting them to our global network, thereby accelerating the realization of a profitable and growing business.

Strohm’s advanced disruptive technology, innovative products and dynamic approach also represent a clear opportunity to enhance and re-imagine our existing global business model. Through a process of genuine collaboration, we can continue to deliver efficiencies and total cost reduction to our customer base, and develop our marketing capabilities in a rapidly changing business environment.

How do you see the future of Strohm?
We see it to be very positive, it is one of the main reasons why we invested! We see Strohm becoming a profitable company, breaking through the inflection point in the uptake of Strohm TCP across the market, with Sumitomo Corporation not only remaining as a shareholder, but also supporting and helping to build Strohm’s commercial success.

What is your favorite quote?
“…we meet in an hour of change and challenge, in a decade of hope and fear, in an age of both knowledge and ignorance. The greater our knowledge increases, the greater our ignorance unfolds.”

This comes from President John F. Kennedy’s speech at Rice University in 1962, at which he declared that we would put a man on the moon by the end of the decade. I actually recently heard this sampled in a pop song! It really struck a chord with me because it is as relevant and true today to me, in my daily work and life, and for society at large, as it was back then for JFK trying to inspire the American people. History and the past has a lot to teach us.

I also like very much “Try not! DO or DO NOT, there is no try.” Master Jedi Yoda said that! One of my weaknesses is to overthink things and to procrastinate. Yoda reminds me that at some point you gotta Do! May the force be with you.