Exclusive Dutch sportscar maker Donkervoort Automobielen today announced the retirement of its founder and President, Joop Donkervoort. Donkervoort, 71, founded the company in 1978 and served as its President and Managing Director, building it from scratch into a world-renowned sports car brand. He will pass the daily management of the company to his son, Denis, from January 1, 2021.
“My father has achieved astonishing things over a lifetime here and the Donkervoort extended family of staff and owners will always be grateful for his vision, tenacity and belief that our cars should create emotions,” Donkervoort Automobielen Managing Director Denis Donkervoort said. “His expertise and experience will not be lost to Donkervoort, though, and he will always have a significant role to play at the company he founded. Anybody who knows my father knows he will not slow down, but he is now available to share his expertise on projects with us, but also on projects outside with other companies.”
Donkervoort Automobielen is thriving, with the introduction of the critically acclaimed D8 GTO-JD70, the Bare Naked Carbon Edition and the D8 GTO- JD70 R models in 2020. It has also spun off its patented EX-CORE carbon-fibre process as a stand-alone business, allowing Donkervoort to concentrate on its core expertise of crafting exclusive, light-weight, emotionally enriching sports cars.
Still fit and healthy, Joop Donkervoort plans to spend his newly spare time in exercising, mentoring young entrepreneurs and contributing as a consultant to design and engineering projects both inside and outside Donkervoort Automobielen. He will continue sharing his expertise in the development of still-secret, all-new Donkervoort models, from their chassis and suspension through to their material mix and design concepts.
The initiator and driving force behind the ultra-strong and innovative EX-CORE carbon-fibre concept, he has already pushed the material into testing with four Formula One teams and will continue working on special EX-CORE projects.
“It is a good moment to step down after 43 years, with the business in good shape and the management in strong hands, so I can devote time to other business interests and consulting opportunities,” Joop Donkervoort said.
“Over the years, I was often asked for advice by both startup and existing businesses and although I would have very much enjoyed to have helped, I never had the time and was focused on Donkervoort only. This step finally leaves more room for external projects and I am therefore excited to have been asked again to step into other projects.“
It has taken Joop Donkervoort 13 years to complete his succession plan, with the time spent mentoring Denis, and placing and training experienced, expert personnel in critical roles prior his departure. Managing Director Denis Donkervoort has handled Donkervoort’s day-to-day operations for more than a decade already and has been schooled by his father in every aspect of the business.
Besides his management experience and his knowledge of how to survive the highs and lows of the automotive business, Joop has also absorbed unique expertise in lightweight, small-series and composite construction. That expertise will not be lost to Donkervoort Automobielen, though, with Joop Donkervoort confirmed as a member of the company’s Advisory Board.
More details of Advisory Board will be released in the next few months.
“I have always been interested in the technical side, but it has never been my biggest motivator,” Joop Donkervoort admitted. “Technology is a mean to an end. Important, of course, but it is still a means to create human emotion. Not the other way around. “What counts is the experience, pleasure, relaxation… the emotion.”
Almost 1500 Donkervoort sports cars have been built since Joop Donkervoort founded the company in Tienhoven, The Netherlands, and they are filled to the top of their windscreens with his philosophy. All have been hand-built in consultation with their buyers and they are all customized to the point that no two Donkervoorts are ever identical.