Not many have a career we wake up excited about and are eager to head into the office for. How many of us can say that we are truly passionate about what we do every day? I bet this list is not very long. Chad James just happens to be one of the lucky few. Essentially growing up in the Van Dam shop, Chad always had a suspicion that he found his calling early. Diversity in the shop gave Chad the opportunity to learn and grow into the successful shop manager and key team member he has come to be at Van Dam.
As a fourteen-year-old boy Chad no longer wanted a babysitter and needed some spending cash. Seeing an ad in the newspaper, he walked through the doors at Van Dam. Willing to do pretty much anything; he swept the shop floor and assisted in small projects. Because of his age Chad was unable to use power tools to start off with. He soaked up knowledge from everyone he worked with; Chad was ready when the opportunity finally presented itself. “He was exposed to everything that happened in a boat yard,” says Steve Van Dam, one of Chad’s many mentors and founder of Van Dam Custom Boats. Chad was always ready and willing to take on any task handed to him.
When it came time for college Chad found himself thinking about the shop. He attended North Central Michigan College and then Ferris State University, but all the while wondered what was happening at Van Dam. Reflecting back on this he knew what it was he wanted to do with his life before he even left high school. This brought him back to Boyne City and he began working at Van Dam full time. It did not take long for Chad to climb through the ranks. In January 2005, he became a Project Manager. Steve Van Dam states “Chad can look ahead and see the vision of what we are doing and by doing that he plans for it,” while reflecting on Chad’s impeccable drive and organizational skills. In January 2011 Chad became the Shop Manager overseeing projects, project managers, and the day-to-day operations on the shop floor.
Trying to determine his favorite part of building boats was difficult for Chad; he loves all the phases through the construction process. Finally narrowing it down he said, “If I had to pick one part of the build, I would say it is the day that we stand up all the frames.” As for his favorite part of his current position, he hands down chose the management and coordination. Chad is a multi-tasking genius and enjoys watching more than one project going at a time. He is also a great teacher. He finds this as a very satisfying aspect of his job, but he is also great at it. “ He is an excellent teacher for those that want to learn,” says Steve Van Dam.
Chad loves the diversity in his job, and appreciates the sense of accomplishment he gets when projects are completed. This is a great thing to have within your job, especially when it is something that you are passionate about. Lastly, Chad thoroughly enjoys building things. It is his job, but it is also his hobby. He always has a personal project going on.
Chad built a house with his wife, Amanda, and their first son, William “Porter”, was born in 2006 and their second son, Weston Anthony, in 2009. He is an outdoorsman who enjoys fishing and camping, but more importantly, spending time with his family.
Chad has become a vital part of the Van Dam team; in fact, he is more like family. When asked about the subject Steve Van Dam says, “ It was like watching my own son grow up. Watching him grow from a young teenage boy to a mature, responsible adult and father is amazing and rewarding.” A master craftsman, a dedicated manager and an incredible family man, that about sums up Van Dam’s Shop Manager, Chad James.
Check out more at: www.vandamboats.com