Part 2: 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.
Another development observed by Mr. Balk is the shift in what yachts mean to clients. Once upon a time, yachts were floating mansions which cruised from Caribbean to the Mediterranean and back again. Not so today: “People like to go to remote areas,” explains the CEO, “The vessels are facing extreme conditions that traditional yachts are not built for.” Once again, Balk Shipyard are eager to listen and respond to a shifting industry: “We have already evolved a few of these projects, converting ice class vessels into expeditional yachts.”
No conversation about the changing nature of yacht building would be complete without addressing the matter of size. Yachts are getting bigger, seemingly exponentially. “We clearly see that there is a demand for larger yachts,” confirms Mr. Balk, “Feadship will be able to do up to 260m with their new facility, Hakvoort builds over 60m, Amels is also going bigger… all the big names are moving into longer vessels.”
Again, Balk Shipyard are riding the wave; they plan to relocate to facilities that accommodate larger yachts in the coming years. However, the CEO is quick to qualify that building bigger boats is not as easy as making the decision. Not only do large builds require different facilities, they require a different kind of operation behind the scenes. “There is a completely different team on the owner’s side with big build,” he explains, “This is one of the reasons why Melvin joined. Serving clients with a 70 or 80m yacht requires a completely different kind of organisation, and that is what we are aiming for.”
It is clear that Balk Shipyard are an organization with big ambitions. Refusing to be pidgeon-holed into the class of refit, rebuild, small yachts, or traditional Mediterranean and Caribbean-going vessels, the shipyard are addressing industry trends with innovation. Melvin’s appointment is the latest milestone in a company that refuses to be anywhere but at the forefront of a shifting industry, and we can’t wait to see where this pioneering company culture takes them.
"Serving clients with a 70 or 80m yacht requires a completely different kind of organisation, and that is what we are aiming for."