Family Ties

The Dutch X-Yachts dealership is a true family affair, we find out a little more about the Schuttrups team.

"Back in 1984 I, my wife Marja, and our newborn son Nanno spent a holiday sailing on the beautiful waters of Denmark where we noticed some good looking yachts with three stripes on the hull," recalls Rob Schuttrups. "Intrigued, we bought a Danish magazine to find out more about them."

"It wasn't until the following winter that we found time to visit the team at X-Yachts, where the address on the Marstrup Mollevej turned out to be a house with a medium-sized shed. We were invited for a coffee around the kitchen table – this was in the days when there was no office!"

"Niels Jeppesen showed us around and was talking intensely about his creations, just as if they were his own new babies. On our way back to Holland my wife and I decided that the X-102 would be our next boat. We returned to our own business (a furniture shop that had doubled in size that same winter) when Niels Jeppesen called and persuaded me not only to go for the X-102 but also to take up the Dutch dealership, saying 'it would not take up much of your time'! I agreed and then had to break the news to my wife that we had just started another business!"

"March came and so did the X-102, where we exhibited her at the Hiswa boat show. It took almost a year to sell our first X in Holland, an X-79, but she was quickly followed by two X-402s – which were considered massive yachts in those days."

"X-Yachts Holland established itself over the following years as a strong brand. It took until 2000 for me to finally say goodbye to the furniture business and focus solely on X-Yachts, together with my wife. We did a lot of racing with several X designs – not without success, winning many races and championships. Later we switched to long-distance sailing and I have four Atlantic Ocean crossings under my belt so far."

Rob and Marja's two children, Nanno and their daughter Nikki, both virtually grew up onboard X-Yachts but their parents also encouraged them to pursue their own interests. So they were pleasantly surprised when Nanno announced that he wanted to join the business after finishing his Masters Degree in Aerospace Engineering in 2007. "Earlier this year we were all surprised again that Nikki wished to join the company as well, having studied communications," adds Rob.

The second generation of Schuttrups now run the dealership, with 30-year-old Nanno as Director and his sister Nikki (25), in charge of the marketing and administration side of things. They are joined by technician Maarten Goos, and frequent appearances by Rob and Marja, who admit that they simply cannot keep away!

"Now that the business is in trustworthy and capable hands we spend more time on our Xc 50," explains Rob, who is currently taking his Xc to the Caribbean. "But we cannot stay away from home for the various boatshows and other social events where we keep meeting our X-Yachts friends, as this has become part of all of us. It's hardly surprising with X flowing through our veins since 1984 and with Nanno and Nikki raised on an X!"

The second generation

"My earliest memories on the water are with an X-102 in the South of France," says Nikki. "Every holiday we went to our X. When I was a child I always suffered with seasickness. But this was never a hinderance. I love sailing and seeing the world. Everyday another harbour and a new adventure. I am very lucky that I have already had the chance to discover so much of the world at my age."

Having grown up not only on the boats but around the business, both Nanno and Nikki realised the dealership was ingrained in them. "I always helped my parents during boatshows and weekends when I was available," remembers Nikki. "After studying communications and performing interships in marketing and events I realised that this is where my passion is.

"In 2009 my parents and brother decided to organise the X-Yachts Gold Cup. They asked for my help, as I had just come back from Spain where I finished my internship at an event company. We had a great regatta weekend with nice weather and a full entertainment programme during the evenings. Even now clients refer to that fantastic week. After graduating from my Bachelors degree I started working for an American company in office furniture. After I had worked there for two years, my parents decided to work less, which meant that Nanno needed some help on the office. He knew he needed to find somebody with office, administration, marketing and PR skills, and of course someone who loves to sail. Because I had experience in writing job descriptions he asked for my help.
"While I was writing I noticed that the tasks and skills were cut out for myself. I thought about it for a few months and then approached Nanno with the idea of working together. He was thrilled and I started in May of this year. Because it is a family business I'd spent years listening to conversations at the dining table and already knew a lot of things, so that's a big advantage." "It's the same for me," agrees Nanno, "I have always been helping out wherever I could. It started with holiday jobs cleaning boats and progressed onto helping our mechanic Maarten perform his work – which was great experience – then attending boatshows and even keeping the office open now and then.

"However, I was never pushed to do it. Instead I focused on my own education: Aerospace Engineering. I graduated as an engineer specialising in composite structures (which is still helpful with what I do now) after working as an intern for Hall Spars, designing and building carbon fibre masts, and at the engineering department of Shell. It was there that I discovered that although I loved my studies I was not so fond of the actual work. Knowing X-Yachts already it made me think and finally I asked Rob how he would feel if I would join him and eventually take over. Now, five years later, I can say that working at X-Yachts has proven to be everything I expected and more."

So, how do they all feel about working so closely together? "We have seen only advantages of working as a family," says Rob,"Of course we all know each other very well and trust one another. But we also are not shy in criticising each other and keep challenging each other. Fortunately this does not lead to arguments as we know it is in our best interests to keep innovative."

Loyal clients

The Dutch dealership is based in the Marina Muiderzand, just 20 minutes from Amsterdam, with clients from across Holland. The base includes an office, workshop, storage facilities and moorings for both yachts under delivery and pre-owned yachts, plus a 25m land dock where they can offer winter storage and access to the yachts for viewing.

“Our clients are all enthusiastic sailors, keen on having a yacht that sails well but who also demand good looks and a high level of quality,” says Nanno. “That’s a combination that X-Yachts has specialised in over the years.

“Since the introduction of the Xcruising series we still have the same clients, but perhaps with a more long-term orientation. We also see that a lot of these clients are now using their Xc’s for long-distance cruising.

“Meeting the needs of such a variety of clients, each with their own specific wishes and areas of interest, makes for an intriguing part of our business – particularly making sure we deliver the correct yacht in the correct specification for every client. Our own experience in both racing and long-distance cruising helps us advise but we are also still learning from every new client.

“We also notice that our clients very much appreciate the fact that we are a family business. We aren’t just selling yachts but how our clients’ will spend their free time and holidays. Sharing this passion gets their approval every time.”

Having represented X-Yachts for over 25 years, the Schuttrups family have made lifelong friends with some owners. They have delivered no fewer than eight X-Yachts to one client, while another stays in contact over their adventurous cruises, which have so far taken in the Black Sea, Gabon River in Africa, Brazil, and Cuba.

After spending so much time in the office, do they still enjoy being onboard together? Absolutely. “Even now Nanno and I are older, we try to get together for one week of sailing every summer holidays,” says Nikki. That passion for X-Yachts looks set to continue for at least another 25 years.