It’s a Family Affair

Twenty-five years after setting up X-Yachts Holland, Rob Schuttrups is still passionate about sailing and now works closely with his son Nanno

Rob Schuttrups has always been passionate about sailing. When he saw an X-102 during a Scandinavian holiday he knew he had to have one. Rob went to Denmark and tracked down the company to place his order. This was 25 years ago and Rob recalls that X-Yachts headquarters was then just a modest shed. He sat around a table with the founders and before he knew it he had become the X-Yachts dealer in the Holland.

"I was working full time running a furniture business," recalled Rob. "Niels Jeppesen told me that I’d only be selling a couple of boats a year and promised the dealership wouldn’t take up too much time."

Neither Niels nor Rob could have guessed how quickly the company would grow and within a few years Rob's order book was overflowing.

Rob cleverly mixed business with pleasure, racing X-Yachts wherever he could to show the rest of the sailing world what the boats were capable of. As the reputation for speed became established it was time to focus on the cruising potential of the designs. Fortunately Rob is an expert racer as well as a very experienced cruising yachtsmen. He believes in getting to know the boats and has logged tens of thousands of miles in numerous designs. He has crossed the Atlantic aboard an X-562 and X-482 and last year repeated the achievement aboard his latest boat, an X-50.

'We covered 8,000 miles in the first 13 months of ownership,' explained Rob. 'It's a great way to get to know a boat and learn about the installation of generators, watermakers and other extras.'

The X-50 is back in the Mediterranean where the Schuttrups family have explored for the last few years. And the business is a real family affair. Rob's wife, Marja, works full time and his son, Nanno, is his new right hand man and runs the business when his father is away.

Nanno is 26-years-old and was just one when his parents set up the dealership. He has never known life without X-Yachts and has grown up with the company. He always helped out at boat shows and earned pocket money cleaning the yachts. Next he learned how to rig the boats and was soon running the office at weekends. All of this took place around his studies for Nanno is a qualified aerospace engineer with a Masters degree in composite engineering. It was only while working for Shell as an intern at the end of his studies that he realised that he would rather be working for the family business.

'I approached my parents with the idea and they were delighted,' said Nanno. 'It turned out that they had always been keen for me to join them but had never said anything – they wanted me to make the decision on my own.'

The staggering success of X-Yachts has kept both men busy. The Dutch market has always been a strong one and Rob has some very loyal clients, many of whom have bought six or more X-Yachts over the years. Many large boats are sold through the dealership and these frequently are taken to the Mediterranean. Fortunately Rob has a great network of craftsmen and contacts throughout Europe to ensure his clients are well looked after wherever they go.

Excellent service is very important to Rob and Nanno, and the father-son team are proud of their set up in Almere where the yachts sit at their marina berths just 10m from the office. X-Yachts Holland also has a facility where six or seven boats can be worked on under cover.

'We have our own technicians and workmen,' explained Rob. 'It means that we can handle any job ourselves to make sure it's perfect.' Rob's team visits the Danish factory each year for further training to ensure they are up to speed with the latest techniques and systems.

The flow of information is two-way as Rob is one of the dealers that the X-Yachts design team turn to when developing and refining new designs. The excellent relationships he enjoys with X-Yachts, as well as with his customers, is at the heart of his business. It really does have the feel of one big, happy family.