Our family of shipbuilders
The Damen family has been a driving force behind Amels/Damen Yachting for more than a quarter of a century. An icon of modern Dutch industrial entrepreneurship, the Damen family is not only a committed 100 percent owner of Amels and Damen Yachting but also very much involved in the day-to-day business. Rose Damen – the daughter of Chairman Kommer Damen – has strengthened these family values by joining the yachting division as Managing Director.
ROSE DAMEN & KOMMER DAMEN
What is the Damen family’s connection to yachting?
My father acquired Amels in 1991 and it has been a key part of Damen ever since. Amels already had a prestigious history, but the last two decades have seen a remarkable transformation. My father has been the visionary for this business and that has really come about because he has always had a keen interest in high-end yacht building. Behind the scenes, he is in Monaco every season, he likes to talk with clients. As a family, we also enjoy life on the water when we get the chance. So the yachting market has been a focus for a long time.
What drew you personally to take on a day-to-day role at Amels/Damen Yachting?
Since 2008 I have been closely involved with Damen as a non-executive board member. The yachting division is not only a significant part of Damen – about 10 percent of revenues – but it is also quite autonomous and the only division active in a consumer market. Building yachts requires a very different approach than the commercial shipbuilding side of the group. On the other hand, our yachting clients also benefit from Damen’s solid financial position, shipbuilding knowhow and strong global network. So the combination of Amels and Damen makes us a strong competitor in yachting.
Can you tell us about your background?
After graduating from Erasmus University in Rotterdam, I felt a need to spread my wings – so I moved to Sri Lanka and set up a school to improve local children’s English and IT skills. Having spent a year in Asia, I moved to London as I became curious about the financial world. For 5 years, I worked at an investment fund while also joining the board of Damen. Following my INSEAD MBA, which I gained in 2013, I took the plunge and joined Rob Luijendijk in the Amels commercial department with a focus on clients and sales. So my background differs somewhat from the education and shipbuilding experience of my father and brother [Arnout Damen, Damen’s Chief Executive Officer]. I think that provides a valuable new viewpoint and – as my experience within Damen grows – ultimately quite a complementary one.
How important is family ownership for Amels clients?
As a family-owned yacht builder, we don’t see delivery as the end of a project. We see it as the beginning of a long-term relationship between two families. My father has always put clients first and that goes throughout the organisation. I’m from a new generation but like him I am a ‘people person’ – a defining trait I was happy to inherit, and a key aspect of the yachting market where everything revolves around relationships. As Rob will confirm, it is so important for clients to know they are dealing with key family members, and they pick up such signals very quickly. I work hard to uphold the trust and stability element that is at the core of Damen’s principles.
What is the future of yacht building at Amels and Damen Yachting?
Our aim is to exceed our clients’ expectations and lead this market. In that regard, Amels benefits from Damen’s extensive investment in research and development. Amels and Damen also stimulate each other – we see that not only with Amels hybrid solutions but also with the Damen Yachting Yacht Support range and most recently the Damen Yachting SeaXplorer expedition yachts. For the yachting market we now has 11 vessels delivered or in build, while Amels has delivered almost 60 superyachts. Most importantly, we are proud to have such loyal and dedicated employees. They form the heart of the company and we really see them as our extended family. I cannot think of a more solid base for even greater success in the future.
Rose Damen and her father Kommer Damen in the Bahamas on the family yacht.
In 1927 Damen was established by two brothers. Since buying his father’s yard in 1969, Kommer Damen has built up Damen into a multinational group with 32 shipbuilding and repair yards and 9,000 employees around the world.