Erik Thun Group collabaration with MF Shipping Group

Erik Thun AB & MF Shipping Group

A long-term relationship built on trust

Celebrating their 85th anniversary this year, it is no wonder that the Swedish shipping company Erik Thun AB is in for the long haul. For three generations now, the ship owning Källsson family from Lidköping on the southern shore of the Swedish Lake Vänern has been successfully expanding their international shipping business. 

Part of the family

MF Shipping Group started providing ship management services for the Erik Thun AB vessels in 1994. The relation with CEO Karin Orsel goes back even further: in 1984 she was there, when Erik Thun AB ordered a self-loading vessel in the Netherlands and required Dutch management, because the vessel was going to sail under the Dutch flag. Deputy chairman Anders Källsson declares: ‘We think of MF Shipping Group as part of our family. Visiting vessels is like meeting old friends.’ 

Three generations of Källssons

Erik Thun AB was founded by Helge Källsson in 1938 after the original owner died of tuberculosis. Gradually Helge took over and expanded the company until he handed the reins to his sons Jan and Anders in 1987. Jan passed away in 2010 and Anders retired in 2019 but is still involved in the company. Johan (Jan’s son) is now the general managing director, while his cousin Henrik (Anders’s son) is his deputy. The company owns a fleet of some fifty vessels, ranging from tankers, dry cargo vessels, self-unloading vessels, and cement carriers. The company also runs several port agencies and is involved in aviation and logistics solutions.  

Learn more about the launch of the Thun resource in November 2023

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Karin Orsel and Johan & Jan Källsson

Family business

Even before Johan and Henrik took over as the third generation, they were closely involved in the business. Both were appointed deputy managers in 2013. Even longer ago, Anders used to take ten-year-old Henrik on business trips abroad. Since Johan and Henrik took over, they made some necessary changes, but the family feeling remains the same. Johan: ‘Our grandfather Helge could still do everything himself. 

Nowadays we have an owner committee which discusses all kinds of important issues, like how our core values are reflected in the company, whether we still want to be a family business in thirty years’ time and how to realise a sustainable future in shipping. Family members are encouraged to be involved and, for example, they are invited to listen in at our board meetings.’ 

Generations to come

An important advantage of a family business is the long-term view, Johan emphasizes: ‘We are not a stock exchange company that is only interested in next quarter’s profit. We want to move forward as a family business for generations to come. That is why we make long-term decisions, for instance about the kind of vessels we will need in the future because of the climate change. We also value long-term relationships: when you do business with us, you know who you are dealing with.’ Anders wholeheartedly agrees with this sentiment: ‘We know our business partners personally. So, when we need a new vessel, we can order one by telephone, because we know exactly who we are dealing with at the shipyards. Mostly, these are also family businesses, like us.’ 

Future generation seafarers

"Our relationship is built on trust: we both know how we think and act"

Relationship built on trust

MF Shipping Group has been part of Erik Thun AB’s operations since 1994. Henrik: ‘MF Shipping Group provides the full management of a large part of our fleet. Our relationship is built on trust: we both know how we think and act. They man our vessels with seafarers who are super skilled and professional and make sure everything is in accordance with the many rules and regulations of shipping. This also goes for the office staff.’ 

Rough times

The Källsson cousins appreciate the way MF Shipping Group deals with the personal needs of their crewmembers. Henrik: ‘Like us they consider crewmembers as part of the family. We have a high retention rate: crewmembers are happy on board and like to stay with us till their pension. Lately, times have been rough for our crews. First because of the restrictions due to Covid and now we are dealing with the consequences of the Russian invasion of Ukraine. That is why we want to thank our crews for the way they have been holding up.’  

Happy Seafarer on deck

Safety and sustainability

Safety used to be a major aspect of technical management, but gradually the focus is shifting to sustainability and the consequences of climate change. Johan: ‘Safety will always be an important aspect of technical management, but we also discuss other issues now. Sustainability has become a very important matter both ashore and on board our vessels. 

We are also considering the kind of fuel we will use in the future: hydrogen, LBG or biodiesel? Making such choices is complex and we are happy to discuss these matters with the technical experts at MF Shipping Group.’ Henrik concludes: ‘Moving forward, we see the need to renew part of our fleet. This means we will have to make some important long-term decisions, which will involve MF Shipping Group closely and will only strengthen our relationship.’

The Thun Resource was launched on 10 November 2023 at a ceremony at the shipyard in Leer, Germany.