Who is Steve Van Dam?

Who is the man behind Van Dam Custom Boats? Steve Van Dam is a hard working, passionate dreamer; he is a husband, a father and friend. Steve can be seen doing anything from mountain biking with his wife to racing cross-country skis. He is everything from a family man to businessman.

Steve has always had a passion for building and had the dream of building a sailboat to take him away on adventures. Growing up in Grand Rapids, Michigan, Steve was apart of the Dutch craftsmen culture whose talent and work ethic made Grand Rapids famous for its furniture. His career with boats began when he went to Lake Macatawa, near Grand Rapids, and sailed a small wood boat. From here he knew what his passion was, he knew what he wanted to do.

In 1972, Steve married Jean Hodge of Harbor Springs, Michigan. After this Steve began seeking professional training for boat building. He found this while the couple was visiting Ontario. Here he met Vic Carpenter, whom Steve would soon apprentice for. Vic taught him the advantages of newer construction techniques and the use of modern adhesives that Steve would day take on to become one of the world’s finest wood boat builders.

Steve and Jean spent four years in Ontario and then returned to Jean’s hometown of Harbor Springs, Michigan. It was in 1976 Steve was able to clear land next to their home and build a boat-building shed. Although the business started in reconstructing and restoring many remarkable wood boats, Steve’s real passion is building wood boats from scratch. In 1978, a gentleman gave Steve the start he needed when he commissioned Steve to build a 30’ canoe stern sloop. Steve’s reputations grew and his family relocated to a larger facility in Boyne City, Michigan.

Steve is also an active member in his community. He is on the Program Advisory Board for the Great Lakes Boat Building School in Cedarville, Michigan. He is also apart of the Top of Michigan Mountain Biking Association.

Although Steve has a very strong work ethic, he also knows how to play just as hard. He enjoys running 10k foot races and enjoys mountain biking with his wife, Jean. He likes to combine his love for mountain biking and winter by racing in the Iceman. You may have even seen him riding on the road on his bicycle around the lakes. In the wintertime, he likes to race cross-country skis. But I am sure if you asked Steve what he really enjoys doing it would be helping his children (Ben and Brie) with whatever projects they may have going on.

Steve is a family man, a businessman, and an adventurist. He takes his work seriously, but he knows just what to do to have a little fun.


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