Frederik van der Linde & Casper Vermeulen
Casper Vermeulen has worked in the shipbuilding industry for his entire career; for the previous two decades as UK Sales Manager at Damen. Before he retires in June 2017, one of his final tasks will be to introduce his successor – Frederik van der Linde – to Damen’s solid presence across the North Sea, and also to the intricacies of working in the UK. “The market has changed a lot since I started,” he comments.“Competition has increased significantly; back then, we were the only foreign shipyard approaching UK clients. In that respect, Damen’s timing in the UK market was perfect.”
So, what are the secrets to success in the UK maritime sector? “It’s all about understanding – fairness and openness are very important. That’s the only way to succeed in the UK. And, of course, don’t forget that understanding the British sense of humour is a key part of doing business there. It wouldn’t be a bad idea to watch the British TV classics – Monty Python, Fawlty Towers, ‘Allo ‘Allo, for example – in preparation.”
A maritime background
Frederik van der Linde has firm connections with the maritime sector. Born and raised in Gorinchem, family holidays were most often on the family Tjalk; a traditional flat-bottomed, Dutch sailing ship. The house he grew up in was next to the busy Merwede River. “And even now,” he says. “It is still impressive to see vessels performing their work – looking closely at their operational or technical solutions, for instance.”
His path to become Damen’s new UK Sales Manager has seen him work in various departments and yards, thus gaining a broad knowledge of the company. “My life at Damen started 6 years ago,” he continues. “It was after I started work at Amels in the Marketing department that I knew that I wanted to represent Damen in the market.” And, from 1st March, Mr Van der Linde has joined existing Sales Manager Arjen van Elk in serving the UK market: “It is a pleasure to work with Casper in this transition period – continuing his, and his predecessor’s, work with customers from a notably broad range of maritime sectors.”
Restoring a dragon
On the subject of retiring, Mr Vermeulen has already made numerous plans. “I’m not worried about falling into the big black hole of retirement,” he says. “I have a 1970s Dragon sailing boat that needs a full restoration. And a bed and breakfast business and a vineyard at home and Michelin Star recipes that I want to develop.” When asked if he will still keep an eye on Damen after stopping work? “Of course I will,” he smiles.