Anna Fokdal talks about her pioneering father, Hans, and how he has changed the world of Danish boatbuilding.
Now I look back on it, it’s probably fair to say that my father was singlehandedly responsible for introducing wood epoxy construction techniques to Denmark. Nearly 25 years since he set up our business, we now supply WEST SYSTEM® products to every boatyard and chandlery in the country.
Not surprisingly, I’m very proud of my father. Originally, he was a carpenter who worked on creating ship interiors for some of the great boatyards. He is also someone who naturally takes full advantage of any opportunity that comes his way. So when the Walsteds boatyard gave him the chance to do a six month refit in Los Angeles he jumped at it. It was during this refit that he was first introduced to epoxy boatbuilding techniques and for him it was something of an epiphany.
When our family returned to Denmark it was clear that his marine carpentry had changed dramatically. He started his own boat fitting company and, of course, imported WEST SYSTEM products to give him an edge. However, he’s not one for keeping secrets. Soon he was spending as much time telling his friends in other boatyards, and even chandlers, about the wonders of wood epoxy boatbuilding and gradually the business started to change. Instead of spending all his time doing boat refits, he was importing WEST SYSTEM products to sell on to people who also turned to him for advice on epoxy best practice.
The best products and the best people
Today, as we begin to enter our 25th year, our business is still doing fundamentally the same thing, only on a much bigger scale.
I think one of the most important reasons we’ve remained so successful is because we’re selling the right products. The quality of the WEST SYSTEM product range speaks for itself. One of the things that impresses me most is that it’s a proper system. As a result it can be used for almost every application you can think of, without having to buy lots of different products. This is so valuable for our customers, I think. It means they can start and finish a repair, say, with the same epoxy resin, hardeners and fillers. It’s extremely cost-effective for them and it’s far easier for them to work with, too.
Obviously it’s not all about products. We also have a great team and customers know this when they call us to discuss their technical issues. If there’s any technique or information that goes beyond our immediate experience, we’re backed up by the WSI team in the UK. This commitment to our customers lies at the very heart of our role in the Danish boatbuilding community. It generates amazing loyalty with people coming back to us year after year and decade after decade.
What’s really great though, is how much has changed over the past quarter century. 25 years ago my father was a true pioneer here in Denmark. He was the first to use wood epoxy techniques and also, of course, he was the only one. Today, it feels like we’re all part of a large and still growing community which has touched every part of the country. It’s something to be very proud of indeed.
Anna Fokdal is business partner at HF Industri & Marine www.hfmarine.dk.
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