Pinnacle is a structural and civil engineering consultancy, with expertise spanning data and fulfilment centers, offshore energy, retail and residential. “Civil engineers tend to be sector specialists so we’re quite unusual,” says Stuart Dickerson, Director at Pinnacle. “However, we’ve spent a lot of time working on site feasibility studies. This means we’ve built up a huge amount of data and experience that’s relevant and transferable across sectors.”
Founded in Norwich (UK) 20 years ago, the Pinnacle team has now grown to more than 50 people. Their expertise has proved particularly invaluable over the last five years on numerous challenging engineering projects in the Dutch sector of the Southern North Sea.
The Dutch think like engineers: innovative, pragmatic and collaborative
“The way we work suits the Dutch market and their business culture fits with our company values,” explains Matthew Byatt, Director at Pinnacle. “They are very direct and focused on efficiency and value. Our strength is developing innovative design solutions to complex engineering problems. Like the Dutch, we’re also pragmatic.
“For example, we’ve worked on several projects to reduce operational expenditures in the Southern North Sea. This has included the well rejuvenation campaign to prolong the life of ageing rigs. Our team has also installed boat landing structures on gas platforms to reduce reliance on expensive helicopter shuttling, enabling the partial de-commissioning of redundant infrastructure such as helipads.
“With all these projects, we had to develop engineering solutions that could be delivered and constructed within very tight timescales. That’s because the cost of shut-down on rigs is vast. While we never compromise on safety, we ensure there are no hold-ups or structural issues.
“We’ve found the Dutch to be great at working collaboratively. That’s also essential to the way we operate. For example, to save time and money, we have designed solutions where as much structural work as possible is done onshore. It makes the offshore installation easier and safer. However, it requires fully collaborative project teams from conception through to completion – and we know we’ll get that with the Dutch.”
Becoming part of the business community
With so much experience of working with the Dutch, Pinnacle felt the time was right to set up a permanent base in The Hague. Their new Dutch company (BV) was only established in January 2017 but they’ve already recruited two engineers locally. “It was a largely client-led decision,” explains Stuart, “as we provide on-going structural integrity and maintenance servicing for existing Dutch clients in the oil and gas sector.”
Being seen to be part of the business community in the Netherlands was another important factor in their decision. “We’ve always been made to feel very welcome everywhere we go in the Netherlands,” says Matthew, “and we wanted to be fully embedded in the local market with our own company. That way we are recognized as being compliant with local standards and paying tax.”
“We are certainly committed to the Dutch market long term,” adds Stuart. “We see a lot of opportunities there. And, although Brexit wasn’t the main driver, setting up the BV has been a good way of ensuring we have a solid presence in mainland Europe, whatever happens in the future.”
We’re already feeling at home in Holland
The Pinnacle team have established themselves quickly and easily in The Hague. In part, that’s because Schiphol is a mere 50 minute flight from Norwich airport. There are also regular, fast trams from Schiphol to their office in the World Trade Center.
“Just as importantly, there’s no language barrier,” says Stuart. “The Dutch speak English brilliantly. That’s a bit embarrassing for a Brit but it does make life easier. The Hague has a good cluster of oil and gas companies, so the business and networking opportunities are excellent. It’s also a really lovely, cultural city with, in its close vicinity, great universities rolling out engineering talent that we hope to tap in the future.”
Setting up the BV and finding offices was also fairly straightforward for Pinnacle. “We had a contact in Norwich – Andrew Wood from the Netherlands British Chamber of Commerce (NBCC),” says Stuart. “He introduced us to the NFIA and the West Holland Investment Agency (WFIA). They took us on a tour of offices and helped us negotiate the rate. In fact, with their help, we sorted all that in a day.
“They’ve since helped us find a notary and accountant, set up a bank account and connect with useful contacts including some potential new clients. We have been very impressed with the service and it’s comforting to know that we can turn to a network of experts for advice – here and in the Netherlands – as we plan for the future.”