Shading solutions company SOL-MATES on what sets them apart from the competition
The bespoke shading solutions company SOL-MATES was created in 2019 by five entrepreneurs, all with a different but proven track-record in the yachting industry. The group’s backgrounds range from composites to metal constructions, special engineering and 3D engineering, to project management. The Netherlands-based company is now one of the top trustworthy partners for high-end, bespoke shading solutions for yachts, delivering custom made solutions across the world. The company core values are reliability, co-operation and the love for making something beautiful.
The name SOL-MATES literally means ‘friends of the sun’, and the team believes that making beautiful things is easier if you do it with a happy team of friends. SOL-MATES provides a variety of shading solutions for yachts, from retractable and removable awnings with carbon uprights, to Louvre systems and parasols. They have worked on over 100 yachts from 30 to 140-metres in length to create and build perfect custom-built products for each of their clients.
During the start-up period, SOL-MATES acquired its competitor AMBER Sundesign. “We managed to salvage the engineering and some of the best people that were in the company. We used our SOL-MATES knowledge and values to improve products and service, all while keeping a good relationship with existing partners. We continue to service clients that have an AMBER system onboard.”
Recently SOL-MATES completed some custom work for the 73.6-metre Feadship superyacht Sherpa. The client wanted fully bespoke awnings and windbreakers for the helideck, as Sherpa has been known to travel to destinations across the world, including Antarctica. SOL-MATES spent a lot of time testing these products to make sure they could withstand strong weather conditions and wind speeds of up to 50 knots. To do this, they tested the awnings on an automotive test track in Lelystad, the Netherlands.
The team at SOL-MATES put the awnings on the back of a truck and drove around 95 kilometres an hour, testing and measuring them to see how well they worked. As a result of this, they are now comfortable enough to say that their tents are able to withstand up to 50 knots of wind!
The bespoke and highly detailed uprights used for Sherpa were constructed with integrated lights so guests can enjoy the shelter all-day, and even at night. For operational flexibility, the awning and windbreakers have also been designed with fast and easy rigging or removal for crew. As well as this, an electrically operated retractable awning was added above the bar on the sundeck, with a manual waterproof tent above to allow the crew to quickly provide the guests at the bar protection from the rain.
The team at SOL-MATES is committed to providing the highest quality, best designed and most refined outdoor sun awning systems possible. The attention to detail and level of quality-control is therefore extremely high. Every sun awning system at SOL-MATES is tailor-made by their team of highly skilled craftsmen who are dedicated to the finest detai
SOL-MATES supplies precisely engineered high-performance uprights to yachts across the world, made from state-of-the-art materials such as carbon composites in combination with aluminium and stainless steel finishes. “To succeed in this industry, you’ve got to enjoy a nice finish. To offer the client the best level of service, you need to be able to enjoy the fine mechanics behind the products, from design to engineering to production and installation.”
And it's this level of dedication and passion that makes SOL-MATES stand out from the competition. The main focuses of the company are reliability, knowledge, cooperation and, of course, passion. “Designing a custom-made piece of equipment and installing it on a superyacht can be difficult, but with a highly skilled team that meets, plans and works well together, everything is simple.
But none of this would be possible without the incredible knowledge and cooperation SOL-MATES has in this industry. The team works relentlessly with everyone from owner, to captain and everyone in between, but also the shipyard to make sure that they find the product they are looking for that fits their needs.
A great example of this is Oceanco’s 90-metre superyacht DreAMBoat, where the owner wanted a bespoke solid slide-out awning. SOL-MATES created a 3D measurement while she was in the Netherlands and made the frame, which was then tested with the owner’s representative and the shipyard, Oceanco. Once it had been tweaked and tested again, SOL-MATES sent it in a box to the U.S. and installed it in just two weeks.
The reliability and level of cooperation that SOL-MATES provides is why they are able to work with some of the biggest Dutch shipyards and have a contact book full of repeat clients. “We work with names like Feadship and Oceanco and not only do we enjoy working with them, but they enjoy working with us.“
SOL-MATES is able to provide clients with a bespoke service from start to finish and is dedicated to making sure that they always meet their needs. “If we don’t have exactly what you need, we will tweak or develop a new product for you to make sure that we are a reliable partner for your needs.”