By Peter Franklin
Tucked away in the tiny rural town of Strijen in South Holland is a company that has had more than its fair share of influence on the extraordinary success of the Dutch superyacht building industry over the last several decades. In fact the interior construction specialist Struik & Hamerslag, in common with many of the yacht builders and their sub contractors in The Netherlands, have family origins stretching back well into the last century.
Managing director Marco Struik is the first to acknowledge, that despite his company producing interiors for just about every yacht builder in Holland over the years, and fitting out some of the world’s best known superyachts with the most elegant and creative interiors, the name of Struik & Hamerslag is not one that pops up frequently in the front line of discussions or media coverage about the industry.
Another theme in common with the Dutch yacht building industry in general, which Struik is happy to talk about, is his full order book. With 15 projects currently booked, some going through his workshops right now, and more to follow on with completion dates through to 2017, he is confident about keeping his 200 highly skilled employees productively engaged for the foreseeable future.
Again, like many other successful businesses in the sector, S&H started off in what was then a very busy commercial shipping and offshore market in Holland. The turn around came in 1978 when an existing client from the commercial side asked to have his 65 metre yacht fitted out. Struik says that signalled a change of direction that has stood the company in good stead ever since, with 85% of its 18 to 22 million euro a year turnover now coming from yacht interior projects.
A tour of the workshops at Struik & Hamerslag immediately reveals the most fundamental secret of its success – the dedication, skill and creativity of its workforce. Struik is quick to point out he is maintaining this with an ongoing apprenticeship scheme for five young employees, who are constantly being trained to supplement and refresh the loyal longer term contingent.
The most modern methods of producing veneered panels and laminated composite sections are employed in the workshops including vacuum forming of intricately shaped parts. Modern innovations such as a lightweight honeycomb aluminium laminated within the panel construction, means that a fully class compliant fire door can be produced which actually looks very attractive, and can be completely matched to the yacht owners preferred interior design scheme.
Given that he is often not permitted to use the photos of his past interior projects to promote his business capability we asked Struik; “How do you manage to get such full order books, and what is it that brings you so many projects?”
He replied, “Some yacht builders see us as a reliable long term in-house resource which means that we just go from one project to the next. In other cases owners and captains are happy to tell others that they have an interior built and fitted by us which still looks excellent after 10 years.”
One client who was happy to have photographs taken depicting Struik & Hamerslag’s workmanship was guitar legend Eric Clapton, who had the interior of his 47.8 metre motor yacht Va Bene constructed by them a few years ago, as part of a major refit by Pendennis.