DISCOVER Magazine #7

Van Oord, changing the world around you

Published in category: People

The Netherlands is notable in having a considerable number of family-owned businesses. This is true of many sectors, but particularly so in the maritime industries. Like Damen, a number of these companies have been active for a considerable amount of time. Over the years, Damen has had the pleasure of supplying vessels and solutions to many of them. Here we speak to a number of Damen clients from across a range of different sectors.

Even though Damen is celebrating its 90th anniversary this year, renowned Dutch family-owned dredging firm Van Oord still manages to make Damen look like a relative ‘youngster’.

Van Oord was established in 1868, when the company’s founding father Govert van Oord started as an independent entrepreneur dealing in soft wood.

Today, the Van Oord family is still involved and currently seven family members work within the company. Pieter van Oord, Chief Executive Officer, who is the fourth generation heading the company, comments: “In 2008, I succeeded my cousin, Koos van Oord, as CEO. By that time – thanks in part to projects such as the Palm Islands and Maasvlakte 2 – the company had already expanded to become one of the largest dredging companies in the world.”

Commenting on what makes a family company special, Mr Van Oord explains: “Van Oord focuses on future generations and long-term business relationships. I’m a huge supporter of family-owned companies. Studies have shown that they perform better over the long-term. That’s because they’re being managed for the next generation, while listed companies are often only managed for the next quarter. The objective is to create and manage a healthy and sustainable business which can be passed on to the next generation of family owners as guardians of the future.”

Van Oord and Damen also have a long relationship spanning decades. In 2008, Chairman Kommer Damen was appointed to the Van Oord Supervisory Board.

Van Oord’s first Damen vessel Marius was ordered in 1938 and this was followed by several launches, tugboats and Multi Cats. Over the decades more than 50 vessels have been delivered by Damen to Van Oord.

So what has made Van Oord return to Damen over the years? Mr Van Oord comments: “Damen and Van Oord know each other very well. The long-term relationship between our families is based on mutual trust and sharing common values. Damen’s expertise combined with Van Oord standards results in fit-for-purpose additions to our fleet.

“For example the latest cutter suction dredger we ordered: the Mangystau. Van Oord and Damen have jointly optimised the dredger by introducing additional tank capacity and specific safety and environmental features. As a result, the Mangystau has been given the coastal waters classification. The success of sister ship Ural River laid the basis for the design of the Mangystau. Damen’s knowledge combined with our practical experiences resulted in a very versatile vessel.”

And finally, does Van Oord have a message for Damen on its 90th Anniversary? “Damen is an important and valued member of the Dutch maritime cluster. The knowledge and expertise built up in the last 90 years characterises this company. Keep up the good work!”

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