3. Changing Markets (1957-1973)

 

Otto F. J. Ottmüller dies in 1960. OTTO A. MÜLLER is changed into a "KG" (partnership with unlimited liability). Next to Otto A. Ottmüller and Gert Ottmüller as personally liable associates, Rolf Ottmüller joins the company as partner with limited liability.

Following the signs of time, OAM is ready for expansion of its service line. Dr. Ewald Giebelmann as jurist and Ernst Schoepf as merchant join the board. Kurt E. Gehrts, whose father is heading the Altona facility since 1929 takes over management of the shipping department whereas Peter Schröder controls the chartering department and Klaus Bäätjer becomes manager of the trade department.

 

 

3.1 Coal

Based on predictions for the development of the energy market it is expected that only imported coal will be able to compete. Users of industrial and domestic coal would most probably turn to fuel oil. The prognosis proves true and the conversion of the Hamburg fishing fleet, which has been supplied with 60.000 t of coal per year since 1950 through the Altona facility, is completed until 1964.

OAM is still importing coal from England under the restrictions of the decrees of 1957, mainly for the Hamburg Electricity Plants (HEW) and the Nordwestdeutsche Kraftwerke (NWK).

 

3.2 Heating Systems/Air Conditioner

With the levelling off of the coal business, OAM engages also in other new ventures. Günther Stamer & Co., started as a technical consultant company and later specialised in building heating systems, gets into troubles in 1960 due to mismanagement, and, as a consequence, OAM stops this business. With some of the remains and know how a new company is established. Together with Arnold Polenz and OAM as minority shareholder a production of a new product is started: air-conditioners, making the company one of the early leaders in this trade.

Since 1962, OAM experiments with centrifuges for drying peat as alternative fuel, later with even more specialised machines. But no profit is shown on this one and OAM drops the idea.

 

3.3 Building Materials

With its know-how gained in trade, transport and handling of bulk goods OAM starts in 1964 to supply fine gravel, mainly coming from quarries in England. The introduction of pre-stressed concrete and the change in the production of concrete observed in the central mixing facilities lead to a higher demand on the gravel market than the Schleswig-Holstein Gravel Pits as the traditional supplier is able to cover. Thus, OAM transports and handles over a period of 10 years gravel sucked from the bottom of the Baltic by Danish dredgers and refined by the Rathjens-Group.

Together with the Breitenburg Portland Cement Factories and the Alsen Cement Factory OAM buys the Hanseatic Gravel Works (capital share: 4 %) which has run into financial difficulties, taking over management of the Gesellschaft für Kiesgewinnung und Kiesvertrieb, GfKK against payment for administration and handling. With the dredger "HANSEAT III" 350.000 t of gravel are gained off Gjedser Riff, refined in Lübeck-Schlutup and shipped with either owned or chartered vessels to the producer factories of ready-mixed concrete in the Hamburg Area.

Near Güster, close to Mölln, 800.000 t of sand and gravel are refined per year and then shipped with 3-700 t barges through the Elbe-Lübeck-Chanal to the end-users in Hamburg.

 

 

 

3.4 Shipping

As regards the shipping activities, OAM shows a growing discontent with the traditional ways of calculation (voyage estimates). Comparaison of voyage estimated with effective earnings only allow an inadequate analysis of factors that have led to losses or gains and give indications what improvements should be made. With new simple statistics charterers are able to review their decisions mainly dictated by the market. Consistent machine-refined data collection would allow insights into business leading to higher efficiency of vessels in the European maritime business.

From 1958 to 1963 OAM employs five time-charter vessels of 700 tdw each engaged to ship coal and fertilizers. At the same time, OAM's own fleet, i.e. three vessels of 1400 tdw each, is increased by the "BIRGIT MÜLLER", 815 tdw/built in 1960. Two years later the "RETHI MÜLLER", 1550 tdw, joins the fleet. In 1964, the "ORTRUD MÜLLER" is sold, followed by "GRETCHEN MÜLLER" and "ELSE MÜLLER" in 1965 due to rising costs for repairs.

OAM is forced in 1967 by the crisis in coastal shipping to review its industrial management resorts. Traditionally, the market values an offer for time-charter by calculating the price per tdw. OAM develops calculations where apart from loading capacity speed performance, volume, construction of hatches and holds and measurements are considered. The objectively determined profitability (opportunity cost) of the vessels allow a comparison of profitability between ships of similar construction. OAM proposes to other ship-owners to put their ships to work together with those of the OAM-fleet pooling the profits and redistributing them in relation to the earning capabilities of their vessels.

In the course of the economic reforms in Hungary in 1968, the Budapest Shipyards and Craneworks offer favourable conditions for newbuildings. OAM orders two ships with 1950 tdw each ("BASALT", "DIABAS"), paying with equity funds.

Other interested parties are found and OAM is able to use its options for four more vessels ("DIORIT", "GABRO", "GRANIT", "DOLOMIT"). The contractual partners agree upon payment of 70% in US-$ by five years' instalments after delivery. When payment becomes due, the US-$ has fallen from 3.50 DM to 2.80 DM. Furthermore, the shipyards have strengthened certain areas on OAM's request enabling OAM to extend the loading capacity up to 2.200 and, with a further lengthening, to 2.500 tdw.
Between 1972 and 1974 the unions succeed in their demands for far better conditions for sailors. This results in a sharp cost increase for crews forcing OAM to leave the national flag with all but one of the Hungarian built vessels.

 

 

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