The reasons for the success of Axopar: interview to Jan-Erik Viitala

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axopar Jan-Erik Viitala

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Axopar co-founder, Jan-Erik Viitala

In recent years, the Finnish shipyard has registered record numbers. The secret lies in a winning out-of-the-box vision

In recent times, it has known such an important growth that he can be defined as an authentic case history. After having registered a turnover of 60 million euros last year, today the shipyard has already sold 2,500 boats in 70 different countries. But it’s only the beginning. The demand is such that the goal is to reach an annual production of 1,000 units. And to think that everything began only in 2014, the year when Axopar was born. In the following interview, Jan-Erik Viitala, co-founder of the shipyard, tells us the secrets of this success.

What are the reasons that led Axopar to conquer such important market segments in such a short period of time?

Several factors have contributed to our success. Starting with a flexible approach, that is the ability to meet the needs of nautical users. Then the- re are our staff – the people whose competence, passion, and experience have allowed the company to get here. Finally, there is the product. Based on a truly innovative naval platform, with a dual-stepped hull combined with a very attractive but unconventional design, it was immediately appreciated for its seaworthiness and high maneuverability. Finally, having developed a proposal that takes into account different configuration levels as well as a wide range of options and a particularly advantageous starting price has allowed the shipyard to immediately gain attention among boating enthusiasts all over the world.

Before Axopar, have you had any other job experiences in the boating sector?

Yes. In the past, I had the opportunity to hold managerial positions in three nautical companies. It was an experience that taught me a lot at a professional and educational level and allowed me to arrive with clear ideas when the time came to create Axopar.

In this regard, how did the idea of creating a brand like Axopar come about?

First of all, it is a matter of nautical culture. Yachting is one of the most popular recreational activities. In Scandinavia, boats are commonly used for short daily cruises. With Axopar, we wanted to introduce a new and different solution in the commuter segment. We realized that there was nothing on the market that combined a re- cognizable and captivating design with a concept

of spaces onboard conceived to be as versatile as possible in order to satisfy multiple needs. Not to mention that a boat must also be fun to drive.

In your opinion, how is the market evolving today and what will Axopar’s role be?

In numerical terms, we will shortly become the company with the largest number of boats based on a single naval platform. There are few manufacturers able to make the same numbers that we do with the Axopar 28 and Axopar 37 series. There is another aspect to consider. Boats are in- increasingly used to reach remote places, accessible only by sea. This is also the only way to enjoy outdoor activities in close contact with nature, in unique contexts precisely because they can only be reached by sea. Many of our customers use their own boat to transport bicycles or climbing equipment. This led us to design hulls with a large load capacity, therefore capable of meeting the needs of an increasingly large clientele.

Has this affected the way you conceive spaces onboard?

Sure. We realized that some spaces, such as the galley or the lounge, could be reconfigured. They usually occupy an important area which, however, is not justified in light of the time people spend there when they are on a cruise. This is why one of the key steps was to rethink these areas according to the real needs of users. The other central issue concerns the way we approached our project, designed to offer, starting from the same naval platform, a range of configurations that can satisfy different needs.

2020 is a year whose effects will be felt in all sectors. From your point of view, what impact will it have on the nautical one?

People have experienced forced confinement. In my opinion, this will leave a mark on people’s habits even in the next 2-3 years. People will prefer not to take a plane for their journeys. They will prefer to rediscover destinations that are close to the places where they live. In this scenario, yachting activities will have an incredible development opportunity: they take place in safety, avoid large crowds gathering while offering a life experience that does not harm the natural environment. From a commercial point of view, value for money will become central to the choices people make when purchasing a new or used boat. This is a theme that is central to the Axopar proposal. Not to mention that the low supply of Axopar boats on the second-hand market ensures that the value of the product is maintained.

How is the Axopar range made up?

The range includes the Axopar 28 line – a true bestseller available in the Open, T-Top, and Cabin versions – and the Axopar 37 collection, available in the Open, Sun-Top, and XC Cross Cabin versions. The Axopar 24 range is still in production but will soon be replaced by 22- foot Spyder with a canopy version. We have high expectations because it was conceived and developed on the basis of the experience gained with the other models. Future plans also include a 45-foot range available in five models.

Do you have a boat? How do you use it?

I have always loved boating and this passion has proved to be useful in my professional life. I have an Axopar 37 that I use a lot. My favorite destinations include Höga kusten in the Gulf of Bothnia. I also like the area around Vaasa in Finland which gives its best if experienced by the sea. Other destinations such as Sardinia, Corsica, and Montenegro are among my next destinations to explore.

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