Damen is celebrating nine decades of operations in the shipbuilding industry. From small beginnings in the 1920s, the company has grown into a renowned maritime service provider that employs 9,000 people. With Dutch roots, Damen’s expansion has been global. This growth can be viewed in terms of its yards, service hubs and other subsidiary companies as well as a globally-operating client base. For 90 years, Damen’s vessel designs have successfully served customers operating on all over the world.
Damen was originally established by two brothers, Jan and Rien Damen, in 1927. From facilities located on the banks of the River Merwede in Hardinxveld, the Netherlands, they managed the growing firm into a well-respected business.
When Kommer Damen took over in 1969, he introduced numerous changes to the ship fabrication process. Advances such as modular construction techniques and series production of standard designs resulted in considerable increases in efficiency. Damen’s clients could benefit from shortened delivery times and flexible vessel configurations.
The subsequent growth since the late 1960s has been as swift as it was broad. The company’s worldwide coverage developed with the acquisition of foreign yards and the establishment of dedicated service centres. The vessel portfolio has grown too – today the company’s vessels serve an ever-evolving range of maritime sectors.
A team performance
Looking back at Damen’s success over the years, Chairman Kommer Damen highlights the contribution made by the company’s personnel: “I am honoured to celebrate 90 years of Damen. What started as a small team, has grown into a global company. And yet – we have achieved this while still retaining our family values.
“Damen owes its success to the commitment and dedication that has been invested by our past and present employees. It has always been important that our personnel enjoy their work and it is their passion that has made the company into what it is today.”
Damen is marking its 90th anniversary in numerous ways over the coming months. For example, the company has also launched a dedicated website (www.damen90.com) that will highlight its maritime heritage and involvement in the shipbuilding industry since 1927. An interactive platform, this website will allow visitors to upload and share their own photos and recollections about Damen.
A special exhibition illustrating many of the key moments in Damen’s history will be on display at the company’s headquarters in Gorinchem, the Netherlands. This will also be the location for the Damen Workboat Festival, which will also focus on the 90 year celebrations. Open to clients and industry partners, this event will take place on 5th October 2017.
And, last but not least, the company’s annual magazine will feature several articles that will take a retrospective look at some of the most important and interesting milestones of the last 90 years.
With a view to forthcoming decades, it is essential to note that Damen is still very much a family-orientated business. Kommer Damen’s four children all play significant roles in operations: Arnout Damen is Chief Commercial Officer, Rose Damen is Commercial Director at Amels, Annelies Damen manages the corporate properties portfolio, and Bear Damen recently directed the company’s corporate film.
Never a company to rest on its laurels, Damen has always been defined by its constant forward-thinking strategies. It is this progressive mind-set that has kept the company focused on new opportunities and market developments. “This is an important year for Damen,” comments Arnout Damen. “It is an opportune moment to identify the key characteristics that will strengthen our future position in changing the global maritime market.”
“Continued investment into building strong relationships with our clients will play a major role. It will be by understanding their markets, their activities and their needs that we can help make them a success.”