Balk Shipyard

Keeping it in the family

Daan Balk looks back over seven generations of family ownership and discusses the fundamentals that have helped Balk Shipyard grow into one of the most trusted and technically proficient shipyards in Europe

Approximately 220 years ago, the Balk Shipyard was founded in the small town of Elburg. Today, many of the same values still hold true
and have been fundamental to the growth and success of the business.

Today, Daan Balk, CEO and seventh generation of the Balk family sits at the helm of the Shipyard and is steering the business forward supported by a team of over 50 experienced and highly skilled individuals.

Daan explains, “Through the years we built, maintained and renovated ships for the Dutch market. In 2002 we were even granted an exclusive Royal Seal of Approval which symbolises the confidence that the Dutch Royal Family has in our company.”

“Due to the land reclaiming of the inland sea in the 1950s, which caused Elburg to become a small harbour on inland waters, and the growing demand there was a need to relocate and expand. In 2004 the decision was made to relocate the company to the town of Urk, which is located directly on open waters. In Urk we bought a larger existing shipyard and completely transformed it into a modern state of the art facility which answers to the new build and refit needs on the domestic and international markets.”

“Over the past 15 years,” Daan explains, “our focus was mainly on our projects but we have also been investing in our facilities which consist of three large conditioned halls and three outside parking tracks compliant with the latest environmental requirements.
“One hall is fully dedicated to aluminum construction and fabrication, mainly for our own projects as well as for some well respected Dutch shipyards such as the Feadship organisation (Royal Van Lent and Koninklijke De Vries Scheepsbouw), Heesen and many others, plus others across the seas and outside of Europe.”

Daan continues, “Another hall is a refit facility in which we can run two projects at the same time, for example a 45m and a 50m yacht can fit alongside each other. Our warehouse and dedicated workshops are created directly on side in this refit facility. Our third hall is the largest one; here we run major projects which can vary from a really large refit project to a new build.”

“Next to our facilities on the yard, we also have some mooring spaces within the protected boarders of our premises. These mooring spaces are of course equipped with proper shore power and running water.”

“Last but definitely not least, we have a unique lifting system which enables us to haul out and launch yachts up to 1000 tons dead weight and a total length of +65m. With this lift system we can easily haul out and park the yacht in one of our designated halls within a couple of hours at a competitive rate.”

Separate from the yard facilities, Balk have the availability of a crew house since late 2020. It’s a beautiful house in one of the best preserved old town centres of The Netherlands, Urk’s neighbouring town, Kampen, The house is located in the city centre, right next to the river IJssel, Kampen has everything you expect of a middle sized town, such as two train stations, one with a direct connection to Amsterdam and Lelystad and a bus station with a direct connection to Urk. In the town centre you will find a large variety of shops, including a cinema and many bars and restaurants. Kampen is a 40 minute drive from Amsterdam and a 20 minute drive from Urk. So for crew, Daan explains, “It is quite a lively spot to stay during a refit.”

It’s not all about bricks and mortar, Daan continues, “Besides a modern facility we also have a large in-house expertise. The yard is organised and run by approximately 50 experienced and highly skilled employees in all functions and trades necessary to generate a supreme quality product. We take pride in what we accomplish and are constantly trying to improve our quality, effectiveness and efficiency in all levels.”

“Since the beginning of Balk Shipyard in 1798 we’ve been specialised in refit and rebuild so we’re proud to be known around the world as a refit/rebuild yard,” Daan says. “And, over the years we’ve carried out and have participated in many great refit projects such as M.Y Bravado, MY Pioneer, MY Dancing Hare, S.Y. Rossiya, S.Y. Athos and S.Y. Copihue. A new build example is the S.Y. Mikhail S. Vorontsov for which we won the World Superyacht Award.”

Over the years, many superyachts have found their way to the Balk Shipyard and most of the clients have proven to be returning customers. This is true testament to the quality of work and service provided.

Daan concludes, “We are grateful that the superyacht business recognises us as a well-respected player in this business. The fact that we have become a finalist in almost every edition of the World Superyacht Awards since its beginning in 2008 gives us a lot of motivation and spirit in every project we take part in.”

For more details:
Tel: +31 (0) 527 681 741
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