Great Lakes Boat Building School

Boat School Grants Van Dam Emeritus Status

PRESS RELEASE – August 11, 2022

Boat School Grants Van Dam Emeritus Status

Cedarville, MI – Steve Van Dam, co-founder of Van Dam Custom Boats in Boyne City, Michigan has been granted Program Advisory Board Emeritus status from Great Lakes Boat Building School. Van Dam is the first advisory board member to receive this honor. He was a member of the school’s inaugural advisory board serving the school for ten years.

In 1977, in a garage in the backwoods north of Harbor Springs, Michigan, Steve and his wife Jean started what is known now as Van Dam Custom Boats. Steve trained as a wooden boat builder in the early 1970’s becoming one of the pioneers of epoxy and boat building in North America. After a few years, due to growth in the business, the family and company moved to Boyne City, its current location. It was here where hard work, continuous improvement, integrity and family melded into their approach toward life and business.

Van Dam Custom Boat’s niche and reputation flourished as wooden boat building continued to be embraced as a fine craft and the special expertise recognized to be the best in the industry. Van Dam Boats have been featured in Forbes, Power & Motoryacht, Elevated, Robb Report, Sailing, Luxury and Lakeland Boating magazines.

“We were so fortunate to have someone with the reputation and passion for wooden boat building like Steve Van Dam involved during the formative years of our school,” said Nikki Storey, President, Great Lakes Boat Building School. “The same commitment Steve and his family have to the highest quality of boat building and continuous improvement has had a positive impact on our programs and ultimately in preparing our graduates for the workforce.”

For 44 years, Steve and Jean were at the helm of the business supported by a crew of dedicated and talented team members who exceeded the expectations of who they deem as a cadre of amazing customers. The Van Dams passed the leadership baton of the business to their son Ben as President and daughter-in-law Erika as Vice-President. Jean and Steve remain available as “consultants” but now are able to enjoy more time with their grandkids and pursue their skiing and biking adventures.

“I am humbled by this gesture; however, it is the school administration that should be celebrated,” said Steve Van Dam. “It brings me great joy to watch this team drive the school forward in our vision to be the leader in marine workforce development in the Great Lakes region. To play a small part in pursuing that vision has been my reward.”

For more information about Van Dam Custom Boats go to

GLBBS continues to produce qualified students from their Comprehensive Career Boat Building Program and the Marine Service Technology Program (MST), in partnership with Mercury Marine University, with a consistent 100% placement rate. The School is continuing to address the shortage of skilled trades and craftspeople in the marine industry following graduation.

Information about the “Come Aboard…Launch Careers” capital campaign is available at or by contacting Tom Coates, Director of Development at also by calling 906.484.1081. For prospective student enrollment information go to or call 906.484.1081.

Great Lakes Boat Building School is a non-profit organization recognized as a charitable organization and is accredited by the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges.