Hakvoort is a family owned business, founded in 1919 when albert Klzn hakvoort relocated with his family from their hometown of Urk to the company's present location in Monnickendam where he purchased a historic shipyard that had launched its first vessel back in 1780.
“The yard was at first known for building wooden fishing vessels, Botters as they are known in The Netherlands,” explains Klaas Hakvoort, joint managing director of the business. “After the end of the Second World War the company began the slow process of building steel fishing vessels, at first this was limited to just constructing the steel hulls, before diversifying further into the building of complete fishing trawlers.”
With the collapse of the fishing market in The Netherlands and its surrounding areas in the late 1970s, Hakvoort found itself undergoing the major transformation that helped create the company it is today: “Throughout the 1980s, Hakvoort was responsible for building approximately 20 sport yachts for the American based company Striker Yachts,” Klaas continues. “This period of time marked Hakvoort’s introduction to yacht building and introduced the company to new American clients who subsequently began placing their own orders for boats measuring between 30 and 40 metres in length. Since this time Hakvoort and its shipyard have been fully committed to becoming and remaining specialist custom yacht builders.”
The company’s facilities include two enclosed and temperature controlled docking and construction halls. Indicative of Hakvoort’s desire to grow as a business is the recent investment of a considerable amount of capital to expand these facilities, particularly its construction sheds: “One of the yards’ two sheds is equipped to build yachts up to 40 metres long, while the other can currently support vessels up to 50 metres,” Klaas states. “It is in this latter shed where the company is now installing a new slipway, something that gives the facility increased headroom and allows for a maximum vessel size increase up to 58 metres. It is hoped in time this will be increased further to accommodate yachts in excess of 62 metres, while at the same time the company is diligently working on a plan to expand the shipyard to incorporate a total of four construction sheds in the next ten-to-15 years.”
Away from the shipyard itself the company also owns an interior construction business, Unlimited Interiors. It is here that all of Hakvoort’s yacht interiors are built and what this allows the company to do is maintain complete control over costs, while ensuring the utmost standard of quality is being upheld at all times.
A recent example of the company’s expert work would be the delivery this past July of a 45-metre canoe stern motor yacht, which will be displayed publically at the 2012 Monaco Boat Show: “This vessel represents a truly classic example of a gentleman’s yacht with some very nice, unique features including a raised ukpilot house. This has allowed the whole of the top deck to be made into the owners’ quarters, another design feature that is very different from other designs. Additional this vessel carries an eight metre tender meaning one whole side of the vessel can open up to allow it to be launched,” Klaas highlights.
The unique, customised nature of its designs is not the only characteristic that defines Hakvoort: “What makes the company so well respected is its quality standards and its attention to detail,” Klaas enthuses. “In today’s market the trend is for more and more yards to move their operations into the semi-production boat sector. While this strategy does bring with it bigger facilities, an increase in staffing and the adoption of more complex production processes it also reduces a yards ability to control the finer details that complement custom build activities. This is certainly not the case with Hakvoort, which remains a fully fledged custom build shipyard.”
The last five years has played host to not only changes in the business models of Hakvoort’s competitors, it has also seen the company become much more reliant on one particularly healthy geographical market: “Today the vast majority of the company’s clients, 85-90 per cent in fact, are from Russia where the market for yachts is booming at present,” Klaas says. “Despite these radical changes the company still has orders on its books that precede the financial crisis and in the last six months it has seen a sudden influx of new orders, filling its order books through until early 2013.”
With the market picking up, Klaas reveals how Hakvoort plans to adapt to these changing conditions to stay at the forefront of its specialised field: “On the production side of the yacht industry the trend is very much towards bigger yachts, few of which tend to be smaller than 30 metres in length. This makes the competition in this section of the market fierce and extremely difficult. This is the fundamental reason why Hakvoort is scaling up its present facilities, to capitalise on the opportunities that exist in the market for yachts measuring up to, and in some cases exceeding, 60 metres. By making the necessary changes Hakvoort can position itself as one of the only shipyards in the world capable of building customised yachts to this size, all the while remaining a company that operates under the belief that a good price and high quality standards should always go hand-in-hand.”