Frits van Drenth & Erik Hertel
After starting at Damen in 1974, Frits van Drenth worked in numerous areas of the company before joining, and eventually heading, the team at Damen Technical Cooperation (DTC) – the branch of the company that sells vessel designs, licences and materials to non-Damen yards around the world.
A memorable career
With more than 40 ‘Damen’ years under his belt, Mr Van Drenth is planning to retire at the close of 2017. In looking back on his career, he points to DTC’s worldwide coverage as one of the many positive aspects. “We are not tied down to any one particular yard,” he says. “Every contract is different. And the varied conditions and facilities at each yard means we have to be flexible.”
For a man approaching retirement, another memorable facet has been the opportunity to travel: “I have been to around 70 countries while working for Damen. The highlights have been where we had the most success. Building relationships in Brazil, Indonesia, South Africa and Vietnam – all these have been very special.”
While he was still at middle school, Erik Hertel (then a keen windsurfer) had his first encounter with the maritime sector when he was given the opportunity to carry out a hydrodynamics research project on his windsurf board at the renowned Technical University of Delft. This ultimately inspired him to study Maritime Technology at the very same university. After graduating in 2005, he joined Damen – building up a broad CV within various departments before taking on the role of DTC Operations Project Manager in 2015. “What I really like about DTC is the concept of helping yards in other countries build our vessels.Whether it’s a straightforward 8-metre tug or the most complex naval project – our success is their success,” he states.
On 1st January 2017, Mr Hertel took over the reins of DTC from Mr Van Drenth. As new Managing Director, Mr Hertel is reanalysing DTC’s business plan. “Not necessarily to reinvent it, but just to refocus. By looking at the roots of our success, we can move forward to make ourselves future proof – to show our added value time and time again.”
Mr Van Drenth’s input during the time before his retirement will still be highly valued, adds Mr Hertel: “I can get all the support that I need from Frits. This is not only important for me, but also for our clients.The close relationships that he has built up have been one of DTC’s greatest achievements.”