An Interview with Nikos Delavinias,
General Manager at Segaline SA
(November 2020)

Nikos Delavinias is the General Manager of Segaline SA. Founded just over three years ago, Segaline is a boutique shipbroking company active in S&P, Ship Financing, Dry and Tanker Chartering and also advises clients in the trading of commodities.

With offices in both Piraeus and Dubai, the company has grown rapidly and now has six S&P brokers, two Tanker brokers and five Chartering brokers.

Do you find there any special challenges and opportunities in Dubai, compared to your Athens office?

Our office in Dubai is focused on Dry Cargo Chartering at the moment, although we are implementing an expansion strategy to include more services for our clients. Dubai is a place where different mentalities and cultures meet as well as a place that supports business growth. Its geographical position enables brokers to stay in close contact with the Middle East, Far East and the European Markets.

 

From our experience in Dubai, we see only opportunities – the only challenge for us is deciding each time which of those opportunities represents the best way for us to grow.

You started Segaline in March 2017, using Compass Software from the word go. Did it help that you or your colleagues had been using it before?

You’re right, it was one of the first things we did, install Compass. It was very easy to get up to speed as a number of us had used it in shipbroking companies we had worked in before. This clearly was a real advantage, although it is very user-friendly, and very logical. On the rare occasions when we do encounter problems, or need some guidance, support is always available and always eager to help. We simply could not run our business without Compass.

Segaline operates in what have always been very competitive markets. Where do you position yourselves in those markets and do you tend to specialize in specific segments or services?

We started over three years ago, the original idea being to create a boutique broking house in Greece, one that provides Dry Cargo and S&P Broking services to its clients.

 

In order to satisfy the needs of those clients we broadened the spectrum of services to also include Tanker Chartering, Ship Financing and Projects as well as Consulting.

 

Soon after starting we were planning the next step and Dubai had been in our minds since the very beginning – setting up an office there was really a no-brainer. Segaline DMCC has been a great success, right from the start.

 

I am very pleased to facilitate the vision of our shareholders for growth, making Segaline and its affiliates a one stop shop, providing global commercial shipping services, whether that is for broking, cargo booking, trading, operating, managing and creating value.

What would you say it is that makes Segaline different, the reason clients come to you rather than, say, some of the bigger brokers in London?

We have very good relationships with all the large global broking houses throughout the world, working very closely with each of them. At Segaline we only have one goal and that is to provide a first-class, personalized service to our clients. That’s the reason we started Segaline DMCC and we have more in store for the next 2-4 years.

 

We invest in both our company and our people, and we are always open to new ideas, new developments, that will expand our reach to enable us to offer even more competitive services to our clients. The aim is for Segaline and its clients to grow together.

Its good to know our software makes a real contribution to your business. Can you give us some idea specifically how it helps you achieve your objectives, and what makes it valuable for you.

At Segaline we believe our effectiveness comes from teamwork. Together we have a wide variety of skills and experience that essentially come together to make the sum of the parts greater than the whole.

 

To be at its most productive a team needs to use tools that enable information to be shared, that enhance collaboration between every member of the team, and they must have a level of transparency such that each one of us can see and understand what is happening around us.

 

One of the great things about Compass Software is the speed at which you have access to information. Not only does everything have a place – documents, emails, vessel data and histories – but when you need to find something the search speed and associated filters mean no time is wasted.

 

Our team is structured in such a way that each member uses this one unique source of data: Compass. It contains everything crucial for brokers to operate effectively, successfully. Everyone knows how to use Compass which means we save time and boost productivity. The ships database is built-in so all the specs of any vessel are instantly to hand. Again, no time lost hunting around for information, which of course includes all the emails we have ever sent and received, right from the time we started trading.

 

It would not be an exaggeration to say that, among all the other tools in the market, Compass is the only solution that combines and makes immediately accessible all the critical information we need to function successfully. We feel confident with Compass, it’s a tool that is fundamental to our core activity, for our team, and for our business to prosper. The way it combines messages, ships and our company contacts list and circulation lists, integrating them and connecting them all together, that is probably why it is so valuable to us.

We are constantly making improvements to the software, making it even more relevant to the needs of brokers. Are there any recent developments that are of particular value to Segaline?

One thing that has been especially valuable is the ShipLink feature, using AI to match up emails to vessels. Bear in mind this is critical for us and, given the number of emails we handle each day, doing this manually is extremely time consuming. Bear in mind if it’s a broker who has to get involved with this then it’s a huge distraction from what he or she does best. ShipLink, we estimate, saves each broker around one and half days a month, time that can be spent on income generation as opposed to administration.

Another feature that we find very useful is NotifyMe, in other words the notifications and alerts part of Compass. This takes the worry about watching out for particular messages – as soon as they arrive we know they are there. That way you don’t have that worry about missing opportunities just because you failed to see a particular email. Combining that with the discussions feature, where the team can chat amongst themselves without sending more emails, that takes a lot of the stress out of communication between team members as well as between ourselves and third parties.

2020 has brought unique challenges to all businesses, no matter where they are based or in which sector they operate. From your experience of the SnP market, can you tell us about how this has affected your business?

We have all seen the effects of the volatility caused by the spread of Covid-19, especially arising from the necessary actions of all governments around the world. The restrictions imposed and the measures taken in the early part of this year, and again currently with the so-called “second wave”, this causes a lot of doubt and uncertainty about where the markets are going. This is especially the case now that we are entering the winter period.

On the other hand, Bulker Prices have decreased to quite interesting levels, as well as Tankers, and we are witnessing a series of deals reported in the S&P Market.

 

I am pleased to say banks are starting to show interest in providing finance to their clients and funds are being made available to support more investment, especially for deals that create employment opportunities.

What are your feelings about the next six to twelve months and what opportunities will there be in the SnP market?

Its very difficult to predict what will happen in the next six to twelve months, with so much uncertainty globally. I do however prefer to take, on balance, a positive view of things.

 

Opportunities can always be found, especially for buyers who have readily available funds and who have decided on their strategy, in other words, those that are prepared and able to move quickly. Short, medium and long term strategies are different in any market. In my opinion its advisable to never put all your eggs in one basket, and never at the same time.

Many thanks for giving up some of your valuable time to talk to us. It has been very interesting and it’s especially exciting for us to have Segaline as a client and see such impressive growth first hand, despite all the additional challenges that 2020 has imposed.

 

Although life is difficult for everyone at present, we sincerely hope that the uncertainties of 2020 will soon come to an end, and that 2021 will be better for both individuals and businesses, in every way.

Segaline S.A.

Segaline SA is a modern boutique shipbroking company with offices in Piraeus and Dubai. It offers clients a broad range of professional services, including S&P broking, Dry-Bulk Chartering, Tanker Chartering and expertise in ship finance, through an experience and enthusiastic team.