More than 20 years engaged in deep-sea towage and offshore chartering gave SMS founder Paul Escreet the background he needed to set up his own business.
Establishing Specialist Marine Services in 1992, Paul says it was a triumph following adversity, after the company he was working for decided to cease its deep-sea towage operations.
SMS quickly developed a successful ship management portfolio and became well known for its rig moving service.
With an eye on the Humber ports as a business opportunity, Paul introduced harbour towage in 2002, renaming the business SMS Towage and recruiting his son Gareth, who is now a director.
He had already been joined by managing director Patrick Lyon a few years earlier and the three, along with their dedicated team, worked to make SMS into the largest independent port tug operator in the UK and the senior operator in the Humber – beating off competition from the global harbour towage companies.
They say that the company’s customer service standards and keen pricing has enabled SMS to grow and survive low points in the economy.
Associated British Ports invited SMS to set up in the Bristol Channel in 2012, where it now has a fleet of three tugs.
In October 2013, SMS expanded into Belfast Harbour at the request of the port users.
SMS now has 130 employees and the ambition is to move into other regional ports around the UK.