Since the beginning of Van Dam Custom Boats the business has been a family business. Steve Van Dam started Van Dam Custom Boats with wife, Jean Van Dam, at his side and pursued their passion for boats as a team. As their family grew, each member joined the team at Van Dam Custom Boats in some way.
Steve and Jean relocated to Ontario, Canada so that Steve could apprentice with a wood boat builder there, Vic Carpenter. Vic specialized in building wood sailboats. It was here that Steve tributes his training in the benefits of the newer construction techniques and the use of modern adhesives. Since then Steve has become one of the pioneers of epoxy and boat building.
Steve, the President of Van Dam Custom Boats, has always had a passion for boats and woodworking. This shows in every boat that Van Dam Custom Boats creates. His dream became a reality when Steve and Jean cleared the land next to their home and they built a boat-building shed. This was the beginning of Van Dam Custom Boats that was formally known as Van Dam Wood Craft.
Steve’s attention to detail and aspiration for perfection shows. He had a desire to build a team that had similar passions and similar dreams of building the finest wood boats in the world. He has created a business that prides itself on constant improvement.
Although Jean received her degree in education, after following Steve to Ontario and coming back to the United States, she decided that a career in the health field was more her style. She did this until the birth of her and Steve’s children (Ben and Brie), where she then made the decision to take an active role in the business management of the family business. She makes sure that the finances are taken care of, that the office runs smoothly and that Steve has no computer issues.
It was then that Van Dam Custom Boats was truly set out to become a family business. From the very beginning the oldest of the Van Dam children showed a passion for woodwork and boats. As a 5-year-old, Ben Van Dam built an 8 foot One Day rowboat with his father. Ben was always seen around the Van Dam shop, although he did not officially start working at the shop until he was a teenager. Ben left the shop while he pursued his degree in Naval Architecture and Marine Engineering at the University of Michigan. After he received his degree he came back to work at the family business. He grew from a worker, to a project manager and now has become the Vice President of the business with the plan of one day taking on the family business.
Although the youngest of the Van Dam children does not work in the shop, she spent her fair share of time there growing up. Brie Van Dam spent many hours as a child at the Van Dam shop. She even learned the woodworking trade. Displayed in the shop you can find the wood kayak that she built, just like her father she paid attention to every detail and it came out as a great piece of art. Now living in Alaska, she is a scientist that is exploring the world.
You can even find Steve’s brother, Dave Van Dam, popping into the office to help out once in a while. Family is important to the Van Dam clan and you see this reflected in the way the business is run. If you were to ask any one of the employees at Van Dam Custom Boats I am sure you would hear that they feel as a part of the Van Dam family.
To learn more about the Van Dam Custom Boats family check out: