DISCOVER Magazine #7

A small country with a big maritime heart

Published in category: People

A Dutch company through and through, Damen’s home territory is the Netherlands. Mijndert Wiesenekker, Sales Director for the Benelux region, talks about how the company’s contribution to the Dutch maritime industry impacts the international market. Damen’s client-focused philosophy is clearly not limited by borders.

“It is quite striking how much of a maritime land the Netherlands is,” opens Mr Wiesenekker. “This includes the largest companies all the way down to the small owner-operator businesses. And I find it remarkable how intensively these various Dutch companies operate in the worldwide market. In fact, most of our Dutch clients are active on the global stage. Yes, we are a small country, but we are very active globally.”

Looking at this home ground, Damen’s role in the Dutch market is very relevant, he continues:

We sold our first hybrid tugs here. And many of our ‘first-of-series’ vessels are sold to Dutch operators.

Furthermore, the Netherlands is particularly important for the development of new designs and technologies – where collaboration with various partners plays a crucial role. “The BlueTEC floating tidal energy platform is a project that draws on the expertise of eleven specialist maritime companies. And the award-winning SAR 1906 lifeboat is a project that involved the Royal Netherlands Sea Rescue Institution (KNRM), Delft University of Technology and De Vries Lentsch Naval Architects. When we are performing projects like these – ones that are very important for the sector in general – having the entire Dutch supply chain infrastructure so close at hand makes the whole process more streamlined.” Both these last examples have a markedly international significance. Tidal energy is a rapidly expanding renewable energy sector with great potential. And Damen’s SAR 1906 design is already being built for countries outside the Netherlands.

Building synergy

Mr Wiesenekker is equally keen to highlight the importance of vessel fabrication in Damen’s Dutch yards. “The typical set up for us is to construct a whole series of vessels, which is preceded by a large amount of engineering,” he explains. The highly engineered series production of tugs at Damen Song Cam Shipyard in Vietnam is a very valid example of this point. “On the other hand, some clients need a one-off vessel. In this situation, this is where our Dutch yards come to the fore. Their very experienced personnel can build vessels like this with relatively limited engineering packages in what is a very competitive market.”

And this is where the relationships between Damen’s numerous subsidiary companies can come into play. After all, the completion of a contract is often concluded with the services of more than one of these companies. “A Damen client is not only a client for the newbuilding side of the business, but often with other parts of the group,” he says.

That’s why it is so important to create synergy within the group. And that can take many forms; whether it’s to optimize inland vessel hull efficiency or to enhance repair, refit or conversion operations, increased cooperation within the group means more effective services for our clients.

In for the long-term

The attention that Damen pays to improving its service provision can also be seen in the Benelux sales team. “There are six of us – all with very strong technical backgrounds. And, while this is not 100% set in stone, we all have our own specialities. That may be towage, renewable energy, dredging or government contracts for instance. This has advantages for the client. By being equal partners, but with a specialised focus, we are able to understand their market and business model.”

Even though we started talking about Damen’s role in the Dutch market, certain ways of thinking are just not confined by borders. “We are always moving forwards – working constantly to develop new designs that are smarter and more effective. And, even if things don’t go as planned, we don’t walk away from the problem. This is because, as a company, we are not looking for short-term solutions. We are looking for strong long-term relationships. Because a client’s success is our success.”

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