Be equipped to serve

Going back over 150 years, the history of Akerboom Yacht Equipment (AYE) dates back to 1860 with Henry Akerboom’s purchase of a shipyard situated near Lisse, The Netherlands that served the country’s many bulb growers. Inheriting his father’s entrepreneurial qualities, John Akerboom followed a similar career path to that of Henry, purchasing a shipyard in Boskoop. Centred in an area of the country renowned for its ideal boating conditions, this yard served a much different type of clientele, namely government agencies, such as the police and fire departments, and those who used these waterways for leisure.

“The company has undergone a number of changes over its lifespan, going from a builder of small wooden boats and vessels for local government departments to larger commercial vessels and utility craft,” explains Joachim Kattenberg, account manager of AYE. “From the early 1980s the company has been heavily involved in the supply of propeller shaft installations and boarding and lifting equipment to the yacht building industry. Further to these services the company in recent years has also branched out to provide electric and hydraulic systems, complete aluminium superstructures and other services that support a complete turnkey operation.”

Working closely with shipyards and ship owners, some that have remained loyal customers for more than 30 years, AYE’s operations are predominantly centred in and around The Netherlands, something that it sees as necessary due to the labour and on-site intensive nature of its yacht equipment. Between 2005 and 2008 many of the company’s major clients expanded their own activities, a boom period that saw AYE quadruple its turnover in a three-year period. Though activity levels have become much more stable in recent years, this period of growth allowed AYE to go from being a company of some 50 employees in 2006 to one that today employs 135.

With the company not actively pursuing further rapid growth at this time its focus turns to maintaining its sterling record for serving its established customer base. A way of meeting this goal is by putting more emphasis on the after sales services the company provides: “Although it is AYE’s firm belief that its products require the least amount of maintenance of any on the market, the company is still determined to be of even greater assistance,” states Henk Akerboom, director of sales and finance of the business. “One particular way the company hopes to achieve this is by setting up a type of service concept that allows its customers to plan their maintenance visits and inspections in advance, rather than the current norm, which is to wait until a problem arises before requesting repairs. This concept may well see engineers heading out on, say for example, a twice yearly tour of the vessels in a certain area to inspect equipment and solve any issues that need addressing there and then.

“AYE also recognises that greater attention to after sales service needs to be paid as the current trend is for vessels to carry many more items of yacht equipment onboard than they may have done in the past. Another reason to expand this side of the business is the simple fact that the equipment has become more complex and requires the best-trained service personnel available at all times. What all this does is place the company on a strong platform that allows it to always respond to its customers needs before they create operational problems.”

As Henk is keen to stress, AYE’s expansion has also allowed the company to become even more specialised in its various areas of expertise: “While the company used to be made up of engineers who split their activities across the whole spectrum of operations, AYE has now grown to such a point that it is able to have an in-house team of specialists all focused on best applying their individual skills and experience in one particular area. This in turn results in the production of even more specialist prototype items and allows the process of innovation to move forward at a faster rate.”

Despite the yacht new build market showing a significant decline in activity compared to the volumes recorded little more than three years ago, AYE finds itself in the enviable position where it not only possesses an order book that is virtually full, but also a client base whose own upcoming projects look poised to extend for many years into the future: “AYE’s success during the economic downturn really boils down to the level of quality it delivers, something that, no matter the financial climate, will always be in high demand,” Henk says, before elaborating again on where the company’s vision now lies. “In the last two years AYE has made significant investments in not only its workforce and innovative processes, but also its infrastructure. When combined this work sets the company up well for the years ahead and positions it perfectly to continue to serve its customers, all of which remain so important to AYE’s ongoing success.”

Expert manufacturer of yacht equipment
More than 150 years of experience in the industry
Modernising its after sales services for the good of its customers