Our Small Business Spotlight this week features Essential Marine, a rigid inflatable boat manufacturer in the Netherlands. We talked to Michiel, the company’s founder, about himself and his business.
Tell us a little about your business. What makes it unique?
Essential Marine is the culmination of many years of experience building Rigid Inflatable Boats for defense purposes for a variety of companies. All that experience is put together in Essential Marine and so we are aiming to build the best boats to customer requirements with great flexibility.
What inspired you to start Essential Marine?
When I was 13 I wanted to have a boat. After walking into a showroom and hearing the prices I found out I needed to make a bit more than my weekly allowance to get a good one. When I got home, I called the company that I visited and asked if they had a job. They did and so I started by vacuuming and cleaning boats (much to my dislike), until I was allowed to fit engines to a boat, helping the mechanics. I spent all my holidays at that job.
What is the most exciting experience you’ve had at work?
I have flown everywhere in the world. Taught the Nigerian military maintenance on engines, did troubleshooting in Portugal and Croatia, did outfitting on a police boat in the US. I love the international character of this market, but the coolest experience is testing the boats after you have engineered the boat, had it built and outfitted and ending up in bad weather. That’s what they are made for. The experience of driving 45 knots (52 mph) in between towering waves is out of this world. The whole team is grinning from ear to ear and super proud of the whole accomplishment.
Do you have any advice for people interested in going into this type of work?
My advice is to invest in sales and marketing and get first clients before actually starting. I am a technical guy, I need a commercial partner or sales team, to keep the business going. I misjudged this from the beginning and that’s costly.
What is your favorite part of the job?
My favorite part of the job is definitely the sense of accomplishment as a team, when a boat is finished, and we are blasting over the sea with our accomplishment.
What do you like to do in your spare time?
Spare time? Enjoy life with my daughter and girlfriend as much as possible. Do great stuff with friends. And of course traveling, kitesurfing, surfing. And drawing boats. Always drawing boats.
What is your favorite movie?
My favorite film, I think the french film Intouchable. Great humor and emotion.
If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would it be and why?
New Zealand. Lots of water and boats, great sense of quality, not too many people, great diverse and green environment, snow, seasons.
What is your idea of a perfect day?
Of course driving the boat with family or friends, picnicking, swimming, letting go of all stress and finding ultimate calm.
Visit Essential Marine’s website at www.essential-marine.com