The history of Van der Vliet and how the company came to be is a colorful one. It is a tale of perseverance, commitment, passion and one that is built on family bonds. Started by Ad van der Vliet, today the company employs another two family members along with a strong and diversified team steering the ship. We join Managing Director and son of founder Ad van der Vliet, Jeroen van der Vliet, to discover how exactly they have reached 40 years in the business, and what their plans are for the coming 40.
“40 years ago my father started the business in a small town in Weesp, in the Netherlands,” begins Jeroen. “We started with a very small office.” Ad van der Vliet became the youngest qualified Dutch broker when he opened Van der Vliet Quality Yachts in 1975. Times were different back then, and the brokerage game was played on a completely different field than the virtual one that we are accustomed to today.
The passion to strive for new challenging and efficient methods, has driven Ad, to acquire in 1980 a 15.000m2 yard in the centre of historic Muiden near Amsterdam. The new focus was at that time to offer all yachts from one central location and offer a complete service. Efficient for both clients and the Van der Vliet organization. As a result, the concept grew rapidly into a European Sales Centre for Dutch quality yachts.
“Quite soon the location was already too small because of the sheds. Demanding clients were quickly going up to 100 feet,” continues Jeroen. “That was 30 years ago.” The company needed expansion but space was hard to come by. When the internet and its infinite applications arrived, Ad van Der Vliet was one of the firsts to realise its potential within the brokerage sector and truly grasped the power the service could provide.
Opposed to setting up shops across the Mediterranean and the States with various shop fronts, Van der Vliet decided to remain based in the Netherlands and promote a personal service by meeting clients around the world, backed by their established online network. “As we are located close to Schiphol, it makes it really easy nowadays to fly on a daily base in/out to all destinations. In 24 hours you can be anywhere in the world. It has proven to be successful.” Today the company still serves a strong interest from the local Dutch market, while at the same time dealing with clients from across Europe, the States and even South America.
This travelling approach that the company has adopted has had a direct impact on the size of vessels that they deal with. “The average size is just below 100 feet, with the core business between 20 and 50 metres, so over 65 feet,” says Jeroen. “It only makes sense then value-wise as we do a lot of travelling and we spend a lot of time getting to know the boats and the client. The 40 metre plus market is very competitive, and getting to know the boats intimately takes much longer.”
However, being highly specialised in Dutch yachts for over 30 years and with the support of their data-base and archive of yachts (having sold several yachts meanwhile even 6 times through the years) Van der Vliet is able to give adequate and reliable in-depth service. Not only regarding the yachts themselves but also on technical, tax and all further issues.
It is this strategy of getting to know each of their yachts intensely that sets Van der Vliet apart, and is a service clients have come to appreciate; not only as part of the sale process, but in the long run too. “The industry used to be a little wild and unprofessional. Today’s standards differ vastly from back then. We can now even inform clients about the yachts’ history records and assist in a transparent manner throughout the surveying process. It's better to have these estimates fairly early in the transaction stages. Giving clients these guidelines creates long-term transparency, and loyalty.” When asked where Van der Vliet sees the company in 10 years’ time, the answer comes without delay; “To be honest, the same old spot, here in lovely Muiden. We are close to Schiphol to fly out to yachts that are located abroad, while on the other hand we are right in the heart of the Dutch yachting industry.”
Despite their ties to Holland however, Van der Vliet is constantly pushing the international brokerage boundaries; literally. “We are also constantly monitoring the American market too, and looking at ways to better position ourselves in that region.” This decision comes on the back of an already well established sales network within Europe and stretches as far as the Pacific and Asia.
With the inevitable retirement of his father looming and a consistently expanding client base, Jeroen has begun planning the expansion of the team with further brokers and partners to continue to establish themselves as highly specialized top players within the international market, offering the client Dutch quality yachts and one stop shop service.