Vuyk Engineering

Vuyk Engineering Rotterdam: 3 years of independency in retrospect

March 5 2024

Three years ago in March, Vuyk Engineering Rotterdam signed for full independence: "back to the core of Vuyk: designing and engineering to customer requirements. That is what our people are good at, and we shouldn’t lose sight of that". Since becoming independent, strategic steps have been taken to chart our own course and strengthen the independent position within the maritime sector. Erwin Put and Floris Toetenel look back and ahead.

"After the closure of the Vuyk shipyard in Capelle aan den IJssel in 1979, marking the end of all shipbuilding activities, former employees established a new company: Vuyk Engineering and Trading. Founded on the principles of technical know-how combined with experience in cost calculation, they gained a reputation as an expert market player, able to provide a wide range of services in vessel design and marine engineering, in particular to the dredging industry. In 2021 a new course was set.

"Once it became clear that Vuyk would be sold, we defined how we envisioned Vuyk's future," says Floris Toetenel, Commercial Director.  "The objective was to be independent, and not being affiliated with any specific shipyard, builder or other engineering firm. We aimed to step out of a corporate environment and return to our core: designing and engineering to meet our clients' requirements. That is what our people are good at, and we shouldn’t lose sight of that.” In March 2021, agreement was reached on a takeover by Royal Doeksen. The Rotterdam-based maritime investment company stepped in as major shareholder, allowing Vuyk to continue operating under its own management and as an independent engineering office. This strategic decision was made to ensure and strengthen autonomy."

Within the Rotterdam engineering office, a unique, multidisciplinary collaboration thrives. Three different specialisations - vessel design, equipment design and operational engineering - work together under one roof. "We are the last remaining independent maritime engineering office in the Netherlands and are also the only maritime engineering firm to represent three specialisations. This means we not only possess in-depth knowledge and experience in each of these disciplines but we also have the ability to seamlessly integrate our three specialisations within one project."

"By continuously investing in knowledge development of new technologies, we remain at the forefront of innovation." Erwin Put, Director of Operations refers to Vuyk's commitment to new technologies. "We are not only involved in improving existing solutions, but also strive to develop knowledge of new solutions that respond to market needs." In-house knowledge of topics such as methanol, hydrogen and even nuclear power demonstrate the dedication to exploring sources beyond traditional methods. "By connecting to customer needs, sharing our knowledge and thus promoting an open dialogue, we want to contribute to the development of the entire maritime industry."

A strong foundation to build on

Vuyk's engineering team has laid a solid foundation for further development. Nearly the entire staff was retained after the acquisition in 2021. Put continues: “our people are the backbone of Vuyk. Last month, two employees celebrated their twenty-fifth and even forty years of employment. These older colleagues are our foundation. Senior employees are the best tutors for younger colleagues by sharing their expertise and career lessons with the younger generations. This only benefits the professional development of young talent in the organisation and thus the future of Vuyk."

"We consider it important that our engineering team is composed of different perspectives and backgrounds, in order to strengthen our innovative power and creativity. In addition, our focus is not only on attracting talent, but also on retaining it," adds Put. "We strive for a working environment where employees feel valued and can develop, which is essential for achieving our long-term goals."

Overcoming challenges

The renewed independence also brought challenges. Floris Toetenel acknowledges that this is an ongoing process of improved visibility and full transparency: "in an industry where partnerships and affiliations are often the norm, we have to be clear that we are completely autonomous from external parties, and that we operate on the basis of client's wishes," he explains. "The bottom line is that we can work with anyone the customer considers important."

Toetenel continues: "a proactive approach to the market and transparent working methods have allowed us to strengthen our commercial activities, both in the Netherlands and internationally. Our independence brought us back to the table with major contractors, and we have also carried out several dredging and offshore wind projects in the United States in the past three years. We have also been heading further into Europe, working for a number of dredgers, OEMs and suppliers within the offshore wind industry."

Future plans

A look into the future reveals ambitious plans: "with a vision to strengthen our global presence, we are in the advanced stages of opening new subsidiaries in a couple of strategic locations. This expansion will allow us to offer our services to a wider range of international clients and to serve their local needs. Official announcements are scheduled at the beginning of the second quarter.”

Toetenel looks ahead with an open mind, emphasizing plans to reinforce core values of knowledge, synergy, and innovation. “Our aim isn't merely growth; it's about future-proofing, fortifying our position, ensuring continuity, and, most importantly: continuing to listen closely to our customers and partners."