Part 1: The Evolution of Shipbuilding with Balk Shipyard
In an appointment that has the industry buzzing with speculation about the direction of the company’s future endeavours, Balk Shipyard has recently welcomed a new Chief Operations Manager. We at Superyachts.com had the opportunity to speak with new COO Melvin Van Campenhout, as well as long standing CEO Daan Balk, about the vision of a shipyard responding to the shifting sands of an industry that is forever getting bigger and bolder.
A technical, commercial and business background in both land and sea-based power solutions has put Mr. Van Campenhout in fantastic stead for the position of COO at one of the world’s leading refit and build specialists. He was initially drawn to the company for its family-run structure: “The personnel are very important,” he says, “It’s just like a big family. Everybody is united in delivering the highest quality as possible.”
“Family owned businesses also have very short, direct and flexible lines, and I think that this really sets this company apart,” Mr. Van Campenhout continues. A project manager at his core, he is raring to go with his vision for Balk Shipyard: “We want to maintain the highest levels of craftsmanship - this is what makes our name in the market - but also bring the company to the next level, scale up.”
‘Scaling up’ seems to be the order of the day for the COO and CEO. First on the agenda, the possibility of striking out into the world of new build. Daan Balk is at the helm of a company that specialises in refit and rebuild in the yachting capital of the Netherlands, in direct proximity to other huge Dutch names such as Heesen and Feadship, and is in pole position to comment on a shifting industry.
“A couple of years back all the big names were focused on the new build market, they had orders booked for years ahead,” he says, “This gave us the opportunity to brand ourselves in refit and rebuild, and we were always able to support the big shipyards in these areas.” These days things are different, explains Mr. Balk, with all of the major players setting up in-house refit departments to service their own vessels.
Balk Shipyard have continued to thrive, however, by maintaining the pedigree of their refit and rebuild services, and “making sure [they] have a healthy mix of refit, rebuild and new build”, as put by Mr. Van Campenhout. “Refit/rebuild projects are some of the most complex in our company, and I think we should definitely continue in this sector,” the COO qualifies.
In Part 2, Mr. Van Campenhout and Mr. Balk elaborate on the various ways in which yacht building is evolving, and how the shipyard is meeting this head on...
"We want to maintain the highest levels of craftsmanship - this is what makes our name in the market - but also bring the company to the next level, scale up."