HOLLAND – Leon Slikkers, a marine industry staple whose career as a boatbuilder dates back to the 1940s, retires from Holland Tiara Yachts Inc., the company announced today.
Slikkers, 93, was most recently president of the company while his son, Tom Slikkers, has led day-to-day operations as president and CEO since 2012.
“This company, its rich history and all that it has accomplished would not have been possible without the vision, passion and unyielding entrepreneurial spirit our father demonstrated for many decades,” said Tom Slikkers in a statement. “His dedication to excellence and translating his passion for boat building over three generations will be a lasting legacy as we continue to provide exceptional customer service and highly specialized products.”
The official retirement of Leon Slikkers from the company crowns a decades-long pioneering career in the boating industry. He was among the first to build boats out of fiberglass instead of wood, and founded S2 Yachts Inc. – Parent company of Tiara Yachts – in 1974.
Tiara Yachts specializes in mid-size luxury yachts and employs over 600 people at its 800,000 square foot manufacturing facility in Holland.
Leon Slikkers began his career as a carpenter at Chris-Craft in 1946. By the mid-1950s, Slikkers had sold his house to start building mahogany runabout boats under Slickcraft Boat Co. He would soon experiment with fiberglass. and composites before selling Slickcraft in 1969 to focus on S2 Yachts. The company began manufacturing sport boats and sport fishing models in the late 1970s.
In recent years, Tiara Yachts has started to respond to consumer demand for higher quality luxury outboard models. In 2017, Tiara Yachts developed a range of outboard motor boats which led to the launch of its 48 LS model, the flagship of the company’s LS series, in February 2021.
Next year, the company plans to launch a 55-foot inboard yacht and the “company’s most personalized and technically advanced product” to date, according to company officials.
“It was with the foresight and vision of our father that we made the critical decision to pursue a luxury outboard brand inspired by Tiara,” Senior Vice President of Operations Bob Slikkers said in a statement. . “The fact that we have been able to embrace and adapt so quickly to these changes does honor to our father’s original vision combined with the skills and dedication of our design, engineering, manufacturing and sales teams. . We decided to do something bold for our company and our brand, and we succeeded in doing it, a real testament to our management team and their ability to achieve more success in the future.
Tiara Yachts suffered the brunt of the Great Recession nearly 15 years ago, as consumer demand for luxury yachts plummeted. The company continued to diversify over the following years, notably with a subsidiary that manufactured a range of wind turbine blades, but was subsequently closed in 2015.
However, the company has seen steady revenue growth over the past four years, including during the COVID-19 pandemic when company officials saw customers eager to enjoy outdoor activities in a context of generalized closures.