From riding on his dad’s back as a small child, to building an 8’ One Day row boat with his dad at 5 years old, to sweeping the shop after school in grade school, Ben was always around the Van Dam shop. These exposures as a child left lasting impressions as he observed skilled craftsmen pursue their trade. Thanks to this, Ben had his first serious talk with his dad about the appropriateness of “shop talk” at a very young age. Ben “officially” started working at the business in his early teens, developing his skills as he grew. In high school, if he wasn’t playing hockey or sailing competitively, Ben was working in the shop.
Somewhere along the way Ben realized that boatbuilding was in his blood, and this led him to the University of Michigan and a degree in Naval Architecture and Marine Engineering. While there he continued to sail competitively and worked in the Hydrodynamics laboratory tow tank. Between his junior and senior year, he did an internship in a yacht design office in New Zealand. In Ben’s senior year, he and his two teammates won the International Workboat/Small Craft/Yacht Design Competition awarded by American Boat and Yacht Council (ABYC) and The Society of Naval Architects and Marine Engineers (SNAME). However, when he’s asked about the best part of his U of M experience, he declares it was meeting his wife Erika in their last year of school.
After graduation, Ben spent his first few years at Van Dam working under several project managers, until in 2008 he became a project manager himself. Ben’s formal education has added technical depth to his hands-on training, and he is a big contributor to Van Dam’s constant push for perfection in everything.
In January 2016, Ben was named President of Van Dam Custom Boats, bringing new energy and passion to the leadership team as Van Dam charts its course for the future.
In his spare time Ben enjoys training and participating in triathlons, working on the house he and Erika are building and spending time with his daughter, who they welcomed in February 2016.
- Born in: Harbor Springs, Michigan
- Graduated: University of Michigan
- Favorite projects to work on: Anything unique with a goal of being second to none
- ABYC certified in Marine Systems
- ABYC certified in Marine Corrosion
- Mastercam certified
Meet More Of The Team
Dave Project Lead
Trevor Paint Shop Foreman
Chad Project Manager
Thor Master Craftsman
Jesse Metal Shop Foreman
Dave Handyman & Grill Master
Charlie & Jeremy Worldwide Sales
David Apprentice Craftsman
Nick Metal Craftsman
Derek Apprentice Craftsman
Adam Apprentice Craftsman
Jason Project Manager
Aaron Apprentice Craftsman
Chuck Apprentice Craftsman
Emily Marketing Coordinator
Erika Vice President of Finance & Administration
Joining The Team?
We are seeking like-minded individuals willing to help us raise the bar of excellence. We seek out win/win situations in all we do – personally and professionally.