Not many people are aware of it, but the world’s leading manufacturer of premium quality pilot chairs to the maritime and offshore sector is located just outside Kristiansand. Now, the company expands its production to new markets.
At a GCE NODE breakfast meeting, Norsap invited attendees to take a closer look at the company and its 50 years long history. CEO Ove Jensen shared his thoughts on how Norsap has found success in a competitive international business.
“As I see it, our success is based on financially solid owners with strong faith in their employees, and a strategy to retain inhouse expertise in industrial design and mechanical engineering. We have managed to stay at the forefront and have developed products that our customers have demanded,” says Jensen.
Today, Norsap is a solid company with 35 employees and a turnover of NOK 117 million in 2022. Customers are found in 44 countries and sales representatives in 22 countries. The company tailors advanced chairs for its customers and conducts continuous product development. Right now, Norsap is working on developing a shock absorbing chair for high-speed vessels, a chair that can handle extremely rough conditions.
Norsap’s history dates to 1969, with two employees and a modest production of snow shovels. The company soon moved on to develop furnishings for a growing leisure boat market in the home region of Agder. In 1987, Norsap produced its first self-developed pilot chair for the maritime industry. Since then, Norsap never looked back. Today, pilot and captain’s chairs account for 75 percent of annual sales.
The journey has not been without ups and downs. The 2014 and 2015 downturn in the oil and gas industry dealt a severe blow to a company which at the time had more than 40 percent of its sales volume offshore.
“Fortunately, we had local owners who believed in a brighter future and dared to invest in R&D. We searched and found new customers and industries, and we improved our position within several segments, such as fishing vessels, navy ships and eventually also the aviation sector,” says Jensen.
The results were not long in coming. New markets resulted in increased sales, and in 2018 the company’s annual turnover exceeded NOK 100 million for the first time. Following a major expansion of the production facilities, Norsap can continue to grow and expand its product offering. Pilot instructors typically prefer Norsap chairs in a flight simulator. There will also be larger deliveries of chairs for control rooms offshore and for land-based oil production facilities in the US.
“We want to expand both the product range and market segments to become more diversified and less vulnerable to economic fluctuations. For example, we also seek to extend our product range for leisure boats,” says Jensen.