Penfield Marine | Growth at home and abroad for pool player Penfield Marine
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Tim Brennan and Eric Haughn

by Joe Brady · Published by Tradewinds in Tankers

Connecticut firm finds larger home while branching out into Singapore and expanding management footprint.

A bigger office in Connecticut. A new office in Singapore. And the beginnings of an interest in a new class of tanker.

It has been a active period of development for commercial manager and pools operator Penfield Marine as it continues a strategy of controlled growth.

In Connecticut, Penfield has moved into a 6,000-square-foot (557-square-metre) floor after outgrowing its old 2,600-square-foot quarters just down the street in the Southport section of Fairfield. The move reflects Penfield’s expansion to 22 members of staff in Connecticut, from 18 last December, and plans for further growth.

“We’ve hired people across the company — accounting, operations, chartering,” chief executive Tim Brennan said.

“We loved the old office but had simply outgrown it. We wanted to remain in Southport and this is one of the only places where we could have everyone on one floor in one office.”

Seventh anniversary

So the story continues as Penfield nears its seventh anniversary as a start-up commercial-management shop led by former Heidmar chief executive Brennan and Penfield chief operating officer Eric Haughn, a veteran of both Heidmar and trader Glencore.

Penfield’s reach recently extended to Singapore, where it has set up shop in the Frasers Tower complex.

Penfield has transferred Gio Gavarone, former managing director of its London office for six years, to head up the Singapore shop. He will be assisted by fleet manager Annie Wong, a veteran of more than 20 years at Heidmar.

Chief executive Tim Brennan says 'Gio knows the Far East market very well and will remain managing director of our aframax pool while handling chartering for our ships in that region.'

“Gio knows the Far East market very well and will remain managing director of our aframax pool while handling chartering for our ships in that region,” Brennan said.

“Annie has a background in operations, vetting and claims, and is well known and respected by charterers and owners in Asia.”

‘Essential’ office

Haughn said changing trade patterns mean it is “essential” to have an office in the region to maximise earnings.

“To have commercial exposure out there and see cargoes first is the key, and you can only do that if you are there locally,” he said.

In turn, Gavarone has been replaced in London by Donald McMillan, another former Heidmar colleague who most recently had been working for Eletson Gas in the UK for more than four years.

Penfield now has 30 employees overall in the three offices.

With an original focus on panamax tankers, Penfield has been content to keep that pool within a range of 25 to 30 vessels. It has 29 at present, up slightly from 27 in December last year. The number of pool partners remains at 12.

Penfield began a push in aframax tonnage in 2015, and now has built that pool to 19 ships with 11 partners. It had 15 units with nine partners in December, but has since added Nan Fung of Hong Kong and Chartworld of Greece.

“We’re looking to continue to grow slowly and have good partners with good ships,” Brennan said.

“We’re happy with our size on the panamax side. We’re not looking to get huge — that’s not our goal. But we do have more room for growth in aframaxes as that fleet is larger than the panamax fleet worldwide, so realistically we could trade more.”