Zwagers_jan23 nieuwe hal

Remko Germeraad is looking beyond aluminum boats. The expansion of Alumax Boats is a step into the future, but Germeraad (46) is looking beyond the square meters of his twenty-year-old company.

The step had to be taken, Gemeraad says. The 750 square meters in the building on the industrial estate between the Setheweg and the N375 were previously limiting for Alumax Boats, designer and builder of aluminum boats. “With the building added, our production capacity has doubled”, Germeraad calculates.

And “so” Alumax is destined to grow, Remko confirms. Orders and commissions abound. From Delft and Amsterdam, but also from Vietnam and Paraguay.

The new building was owned by Thecla Bodewes Shipyards, but was not in use for a long time. The additional hall is 900 square meters in size and is located a little further away, on the Zomerdijk, on the border of Drenthe and Overijssel. “And by the water”, Germeraad adds well.

That addition is not insignificant for a water-bound business. “A car garage does not stand in a meadow with a dirt road leading to it either”, Germeraad compares. “We need water, for example, to test our products. For boats larger than eight meters, we now need special transport by road.”

The issue is a sticking point in the political discussion surrounding the Meppel harbor: should it be bigger, and if so, how? With the widening of the lock at Kornwerderzand, Meppel beach will be accessible to larger sea-going vessels and will have a larger hinterland, giving world ports like Rotterdam and Antwerp more room to specialize. But land is scarce in the port area around Meppel, where there is demand from entrpreneurs for as much as 37 hectares, but barely a postage stamp of space. From his title as Port Entrepreneur of the Year (2016), Germeraad interjected into the discussion when asked. “Why not make the waterfront lots smaller, so you get 10 smaller entrepreneurs instead of two large ones? The municipality should focus more on smaller businesses.”

And furthermore, he continued, available land should be looked at better. While politicians make the choice: infill on existing land or expand to Oever S (Staphorst), Germeraad wants to literally move the area. “Why look at Staphorst land? There is still enough waterfront space in Meppel that is not being used. Look at North IV. And also think about creating more space by making an inlet.”

Pedal boats

And while he is at it with his ideas for the future, Germeraad would also like to shine his light on sand extraction site Bremenbergplas, on the other side of the N375. He envisions an open conncetion with Meppel on the one hand and Wanneperveen and Giethoorn on the other. “Why not make an electric water ski track there? A recreational lake, with pavilion, pedel boat rental, a trailer ramp so people can take their boats towards Wanneperveen and Giethoorn. No need for such a theme park. You already have it. Meppel has enormous amounts of water, but does nothing with it.”

All these ideas, plans, Germeraad does not want to keep them to himself. “I am not only an entrepreneur. I am not tied to Meppel – we have already looked at expansion in Zwolle and Steenwijk – but I do have staff and customers from Meppel. So I look beyond the square meters we’re sitting on.”

For example, Alumax is in the process of establishing a business in Vietnam, but Germeraad is careful not to get ahead of himself in the drive to get bigger. “We now have to make sure, after the extra corporate hall, hat we keep control, rest. You can’t build a skyscraper on the foundation of a single-family home. We have to be able to keep up with ourselves.”

Hydraulic roof

Alumax’s productions sail in cities such as Amsterdam, Rotterdam, Leiden and Delft. For Delft, the Meppel company is currently producing two water busses that transport passengers by water through the center of the city. There was only one prblem: the boat did not fit under the bridge. “Now we have hydraulically lowered the roof,” says Germeraad.

The movable roof is the outcome of the issue of weight and energy. In the same inventive way, Alumax recently came up with removable protection for propeller engines for fireboats. “Pioneering and seeing opportunities”, Germeraad sums up the entrepreneurship of Alumax – which he does together with his associate Jarno Visscher.

Sixteen years ago, a customer asked for an aluminum boat with electric steering; it was unique at that time. “But I did think: I think it should be possible,” Germeraad looks back.

In a world in search of sustainability and circularity, sustainable and clean waterborne transportation has gained all the momentum in recent years. Alumax is riding those waves.

[Article Meppeler Courant]