By Peter Franklin
HISWA, the nautical business association for the vibrant and ever expanding yacht building and marine services sector in the Netherlands, has for many years made its annual press tour a much sought after week of activities in the yachting journalists’ calendar. This year was no exception and Superyacht Business was pleased to join 17 other journalists from every corner of the globe when the tour kicked off on Monday 2June from a hotel near Amsterdam airport.
The tour guarantees the group two visits to yards or key sub contractors per day, with time for detailed presentations and guided inspection of their facilities. This meant that by the Friday, each journalist had seen 10 companies who were all major players in the sector.
Well known names in the world of superyachts such as Feadship, Oceanco, Moonen, Amels, Heesen, Holland Jachtbouw, Royal Huisman, Claasen, Balk, Mulder and Hakvoort all opened their doors to the visiting journalists, and had informative presentations prepared. Added to this was the chance to get up close and technically detailed with specialist sub contractors on interiors, electronics and engineering design such as Struik & Hamerslag, Alejwinse, De Keizer and Vrijpack.
Many of the companies are being managed by second, third or even fourth generation members of the original founder’s family. Employees are frequently at the same business for their entire working life, and very importantly, all of them are operating apprenticeships where young (or even not so young) people are put through two year training schemes with a structured practical and theory curriculum, including English language lessons.
At Feadship, where the tour kicked off at its Makkum yard in Friesland, journalists had a chance to view the 92 metre Hull No 1005, currently in build with its 12 metre swimming pool, and waterfall that cascades over the stern, plus other luxury entertainment features such as sauna and cinema onboard.
The training school class room adjacent to the yard with a full time teacher employed, caters for 20 apprentices at a time. Last year 24 apprentices were put through the Feadship training program, with ages between 16 and 46. (Average age 27)
This serious commitment to the long term build quality and professional capability was evident at all of the companies that were visited on the tour.
Another strong feature of that came through during the tour was that everyone in the sector is building dedicated resources for refit projects, and expects this business to continue to grow well into the future.