Top Ever Handover: FATHER TO SON LEADERSHIP

“I believe Top Ever was made to touch other lives”

This statement of Capt Oscar Orbeta found flesh in the very meaningful celebrations of the 20th Anniversary of Top Ever Marine Management Phil Corp on November 4th, Diamond Hotel, Roxas Boulevard, Malate, Manila.

It may be jaded to say fun-filled and gay— but, it was a deeply personal mix of tears from joy, of Japan-Phil mutual commitments, of re-energized leadership, recognition and sharing: the whole spectrum of the ideal and the practical.

 

Son also rises.

Central was the ceremonial handover of the Presidency from Pres./Founder Capt Oscar “Oca” Orbeta to VP Archimedes “Archie” Orbeta, his second son, as witnessed by Capt. Masato Suzuki, former president and co-founder of TEMM Maritime Co. of Japan.

Formalities were complete with Board Resolution 001-1018 accepting the voluntary resignation of Capt. Orbeta and Resolution 002-1018 Archie taking over the presidency. The Captain signed the documents on stage and handed over the Top Ever flag to his son amidst prolonged cheers, silent wishes and great expectations.

Teary-eyed with voice almost breaking, Archie presented the Leadership Award to Capt Orbeta “for commanding the direction of the company to an outstanding level in providing quality service to the Ship Owners and crew.”

A ship model came as a gift from the management and staff, “A present to our President, Commander-in-Chief, Leader, Mentor, Coach and Friend, A Man of Value”.

 

Career.

Capt. Orbeta belonged to Class ’70-Phil Merchant Marine Academy (PMMA), a retired Navy Captain who served at the Coast Guard (PCG) prior to his optional retirement. He is a licensed merchant marine officer with expertise in maritime operation and safety.

Beginning as a Training Officer, he was promoted as Operations Manager of Cargo Safeway Maritime Bulker (on overseas manning and domestic tanker operation). In 1998, he joined Top Ever Marine Mngt Phil; then ventured into domestic tanker operations by establishing Top Ever Ship Management.

He was founder and former president of the Association of Tanker Operators of the Phil.

Capt Orbeta holds extreme gratitude to Capt Reynaldo D. Casareo, president of Cargo Safeway, his mentor and upper classman (PMMA-’ 67) who gave him the opportunity to immerse in commercial shipping.

Capt Orbeta is now president of the Phil Association of Manning Agencies and Shipmanagers (PAMAS) and the Chairman of the Joint Manning Group (JMG).

 

The new guy.

Not really.

Archie has been with Top Ever for 15 years as VP. He started as an in-house psychometrician way back in 2003, providing psychological tests to the crew.  He was soon entrusted with more essential workload, personally trained by Capt Suzuki at TEMM for about a year.

His takeover may be deemed easy being a son. But Capt Orbeta places a heavy charter on Archie’s tenure: “Maybe if Archie is not around the bloodline of succession will stop and, therefore, we have to shut down Top Ever”.

To which Archie answers with grind and grit:

“This special night is about us, it is a night of celebration that recognizes the joy and pain, the blood and tears, the struggles, the sleepless nights, the petrifying tensions, anxieties, our accomplishments, our camaraderie, our friendships”.

“All of that to ensure that we sustain our commitments to our clients and all of that to ensure we provide our family needs”.

Furthermore, this wonderful night is our simple way of expressing our utmost gratitude to our Ship Owners, Ship Managers and most especially our crew, our friends from the industry for making Top Ever a part of your lives”.

 

Next generation.

Archie reminisced earlier discussions on how to sustain the business, the next generation of ship owners, ship managers, of Top Ever crew. What made the tandem successful, so perfectly harmonized?

Aside from skills and more, he thinks the utmost is belief in Filipino seafarers.

He recalls Capt Suzuki was asked many times to try other nationalities. In his core and heart, Capt Suzuki believes in Filipino seamen. This is attested by the excellent maintenance and operation of our vessels, forming the culture of respect and professionalism between the ship owners, managers, manning agent and crew.

Archie is positive “together we can sustain and hopefully exceed our capability in providing quality service”. His simple wish for all is to believe in the Filipino crew, in the Filipino seaman — the global seafaring industry is ever strong and ever productive as long as the Filipino seafarers are in the helm.

 

Milestones.

In 1998, Top Ever Marine Management Phil Corp was established, licensed Nov 4th by POEA as a manning agent. Its first principal, TEMM Maritime; the first vessel, MV World Romance which came from their premier shipowner,  Funada Kaiun.

In 2004, Top Ever Shipmanagement Corp was established as a sister company for domestic tanker management that evolved into an international ship management company.

In 2007, both transferred to bustling Bangkal, Makati, from their offices in Intramuros, Manila.

They are now the sole occupants, reflective of success in “setting a global standard.”

By 2018, Archimedes Orbeta takes over the presidency; the captain then serves as a Chairman of the Board of Directors with equity and policy secured by the family.

 

Stress points.

Starting a company is replete with pressures due to lack of essential staff stemming from a modest budget.  Capt. Orbeta has to “live” in the office to be available 24/7 to the principal.

Capt Orbeta recalls:

“Just imagine how one feels when at 2 o’clock in the morning principal will call me up and tell me that one of my ships, a large ship is sinking. Imagine how hard it is to buffer that kind of incident wherein you are aware that you are responsible for all the crew onboard. “

 

Recognition.

Utmost gratitude was expressed throughout the night as 11 crew who have served for the past 20 years was given due recognition. Ms. Sheila Pelin was the sole recipient of the 20-year service award. Special recognitions were given to the Consulates of Panama and Marshall Islands, suppliers and friends whose contributions vital in sustaining the company.

Top Ever’s various shipowners were also given recognition for the patronage of Top Ever crew citing that it is due to the “strong and unrelenting confidence to the ability and competence of seafarers” from Top Ever.

A Special Award was given posthumous to the late Takatoshi Funada,then president of Funada Kaiun, who had relentlessly supported Top Ever in the last two decades and have been instrumental in the steady increase of the number of vessels in the company.

 

Really special.

Capt Masato Suzuki earned the “greatest gratitude and appreciation” for 20 years support and commitment through professional guidance and mentorship, enhancement of technical and management skills for safe and practical operations of the ships”.

Capt Suzuki even quipped why he must go upstage several times as Capt Orbeta is “my brother already, more than 20 years.”

 

Overwhelming.

A corporate video was projected, on highs-and-lows but always centered on love for the company and family. Program flow was casual as awardees were not even informed in advance.

The exchange of gifts between Philippine and Japan management became emotional — sincere hugs on stage, machismo set aside as a few Japanese shipowners sobbed in receiving their plaques.

 

All night long.

Non-stop music pervaded the third segment, of various genre from folk to acoustics. And the Orbeta trio (Dad and two sons) led, tripping the light fantastic with natural grace and talent.

Capt Orbeta and the rest of the Top Ever staff joined the performances of Mr. Ogie Alcasid, nationally acclaimed singer and songwriter. But it is not to grandstand but to be with all — as a family — bonded in a career and united in aspirations, giving the best, receiving fair share.

Aptly named Top Ever, the years ahead are expectedly bountiful. Ever on top for services on a global standard, energized by progressive management, fueled by ethical family values.

 

-o0o-

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