During the Maritime Awards Gala in Rotterdam, the Netherlands, Kommer Damen was presented with a Lifetime Achievement Award, recognizing his achievements, methods and contribution to the Dutch maritime industry. Damen (78) is Chairman of the Supervisory Board of Damen Shipyards Group and is still internationally active in the company that he took over from his father and uncle in 1969.
Kommer Damen is a member of the (Dutch) Maritime Council and Honorary Consul of Mexico. From 1988 to 2020 he was a board member of maritime industry association NMT (formerly VNSI). In addition, from 1997 to 2020 he was a member of the board of the umbrella organization Dutch Maritime Network and a member of the Supervisory Board of Platform Bèta Technology. He is married to Josien Damen and has four children, all of whom are active in the business. Annelies Damen is a member of the Supervisory Board, Arnout Damen is CEO of Damen Shipyards Group, Rose Damen is Managing Director at Damen Yachting and Bear Damen advises the company based on his own creative expertise.
Currently, Damen Shipyards Group operates globally in almost all maritime niche markets. Several yards have been acquired in recent years, many of which specialize in new niche markets. The company has 12,000 employees, 35 construction and repair yards and a variety of related companies that supply, for example, anchor chains, rudders, winches and other components. Damen has built a total of more than 6,000 ships and delivers about 175 vessels annually.
The Damen Way
Damen Shipyards was founded in 1927 by Kommer's father Jan and uncle Marinus, who had been building small boats in Hardinxveld-Giessendam since 1922 and expanded the company to four locations: the original yard, two new yards and a carpentry factory.
Kommer Damen started in the company in the mid-1960s and developed his own alternative idea about shipbuilding, including design method and logistics. In 1969 this led to the takeover of one of the yards and the carpentry factory. An interesting twist in the Damen history: the 50 employees were allowed to choose between him and his cousin, who took over the other companies. Only six employees had confidence in Damen's ideas. They went with him and that's how he started his own business.
Damen's ideas for the times, and to a degree still today, were based on standardization, modularization, series production and keeping vessels in stock.