The Americas – a region full of diversity
In the past 10 years Damen has delivered 250 vessels to American customers and almost 900 since 1970. Area Director Americas, Sander van Oord, gives an update.
Working in his role of Area Director Americas, Sander van Oord heads a team active in one of the world’s most varied regions. “The continent comprises some of the biggest countries in the world – think 200 million+ people – as well as some of the smallest countries with a population in the ten thousands,” he begins. “The Americas are home to some of the richest and poorest countries and offer a wide variety of cultures and economies. It’s a great place to work and I feel privileged to have spent the last 18 years there.”
A critical factor, especially for a shipbuilder, is the fact that the North and South American continents, including the Caribbean, encompass both polar circles and the equator. You will find Damen vessels sailing in arctic seas dotted with icebergs and pushing laden barges along tropical rivers. “This geographical diversity has significant implications to our clients’ requirements, and therefore, to our products. Here, especially, it’s vital to really listen to what our customers need, be creative and find suitable solutions.”
This diversity also includes how business is conducted. “In countries where local construction is important, Damen vessels are built under license, together with partner yards. This is a substantial market for us – for example, in the USA more than 200 vessels have been built under license since the mid-1990s. For several Latin American customers we built a yard before we started on the ship itself – the knowledge transfer in these processes is considerable and often gives us the edge over our competition.”
Cultural differences lead to different ways to doing business across the region. “Wherever you are though,” states Mr Van Oord. “Building up strong personal relationships is always priority number one.”
Damen’s Americas team has grown signifi cantly in recent years. “I am very proud of our team, not only as to results, but also with regards to cohesion, eagerness and the positive vibe. Like in most countries we serve, success is about people. We now have personnel, either in local offices or Service Hubs, in Brazil, Cuba, Argentina, Canada, Mexico, Venezuela and Trinidad. Moreover, we are considering setting up additional local offices in Houston and Mexico.”
With Damen’s broad portfolio of after-sales services mirroring the diversity of the American continents, Mr Van Oord expects this growing presence will give the company’s customers even greater access to comprehensive solutions for the entire lifetime of their vessels. “A one-stop-shop is what we’ll focus on for the coming years.”