In the middle of nowhere Swedish John Lundin and his Indonesian wife Lizza is designing and producing high speed boats for patrolling and to ambush pirates with the help of some of the world’s sharpest brains in designing speedy boats. The latest project is a gigantic trimaran 60 metres long with the speed of around 150 kilometres per hour. The details are still covered as military secrets but the Swede lift as much of the curtains as he can in this feature.
John Lundin belongs to a boat building family. When he was in his mid twenties the family’s five shipyards in Sweden and Norway “Swede Ship Group” went bankrupt and Johns farther Allan Lundin got cancer.
In all that mess the young man went to Indonesia out of all places, sold two boats, and obviously more important, he met his Indonesian wife Lizza.
“The next year or two we lived together in Sweden where Lizza, took care of my father until he died. His illness hit at the same time as Sweden almost went bankrupt, and they also cancelled subsidies to shipyards. While Sweden follow the rules and lost good business other countries bended the rules and their shipyards survived at least for a while” John Lundin, 40, explains at the backseat of his minivan while we drive from Legian Beach in Bali to Banuywangi at the eastern tip of Java.
“The creditors in Sweden told me at a time that I could keep one of the shipyards, if I just signed their papers. But I would have nothing to do with that. Of course I could se the signs at the walls. My family had build more than 200 patrol boats to Sweden and others Scandinavian countries plus a similar amount of leisure boats” John Lundin says.
It was clear to him that the boat story was a little like the shirts. 80 % of the close he used while fighting for his Swedish family business was produced in Asia. It would be the same with boats. If the Swede could transfer the Swedish quality to production in Indonesia he would be the king.
“Lizza and I left for her country and landed in Jakarta. When I looked around I was surrounded by experts in the issue “Indonesia”. Almost every single westerner knew everything from day one of their arrival to this very beautiful but also very difficult place”.
Pretty quickly John was fed up with all that. He wanted to learn “Indonesia” from scratch.
“I talked with Lizza. What do people make in your village” I asked her. Rice and wood. OK I thought. That could be a perfect place to start”, John Lundin say. We are still in the minibus on our six hours trip to Banuywangi in East Java.
John and Lizza were still in their twenties when they arrived in her village Sukowidi. And Lizza had been right. They produced rice and wood. The latter was doors to peoples own houses and when it went at the best they produced some tables or chairs in “local” quality.
After only half an hour in a restaurant and 7 hours in a minivan it’s clear for me that John has something with people. His huge body, his steady look at you, his a little subdued way to talk to you but still filled with confidence and curiosity he is making wonders just be being together with people.
It was the same at that time. 13 years younger but still equipped with respect, openness, and curiosity and the desire to learn.
And learn he did together with his wife Lizza.
“As a start I only wanted to learn to work in Indonesia. Rice and wood. Clearly I wasn’t a rice farmer so the wood was left for me”, John is smiling.
The Swede who only has a bachelor in economic from Oxford started to become an expert in wooden furniture’s. Soon he was exporting to IKEA and other important buyers in Sweden. Later the Swedish shipyards that was left back home became costumers as well.
In the middle of that business with approximately 200 employed in the village, John Lundin had a problem. His furniture’s were perfect when they left Indonesia but during the travel to Sweden they were damaged by humidity and mould.
“I started to solve my own problem but ended up with a proper business, namely the “Super Dry” own three patents. It worked for me and for other branches and with two other partners I opened a factory in Banuywangi. We had more than 200 people employed but most of the costumers were in China. So we moved the production to where most of our costumers are” explains John Lundin.
IKEA, H&M and hundreds of other companies shipping goods to Europe are among the costumers. Super Dry in runner by a British partner, John has no daily involvement in Super Dry. Right now John and his Super Dry partner are involved in the Thai property business. Together they are renovating four huge townhouses in Jomtien. Later they are going to open a hotel.
The time when John Lundin and his wife Lizza was ready to nurse his dream of building boats in Indonesia got closer and closer.
And in 2003 the couple was ready to register “PT Lundin Industry Invest” with production facilities in Sokuwidi in Banuywangi that was the backbone of North Sea Boats. Professional boat builders were hired to train the workers from John’s furniture production.
“Of course I had patrol boats in my mind but we started with Swedish designed Walk-Around fibreglass sports fishing boats” says John Lundin.
Things have now gone full circle as the model has been exported by North Sea Boats back to Sweden.
“When we talked about selling boats the prizes of transport to the end user is almost as much as the prize of the boat. I was thinking a lot about that problem. The cheapest way to transport what ever is by container. You fill up a container and then the goods arrive to the costumer as cheap as possible. It seems like nobody had combined designing boats to the size of a 40 foot container before I did that”. John Lundin is laughing.
So the Swede made logic to design reality.
The X2K was born.
It’s a seaworthy high- speed suited for pleasure, fishing, diving and not the least to the military. Since then there has been produced more than 30 X2K and also important they have all been delivered in a 40 food container.
But John’s background with his Farther Allan Lundin building patrol boats to police and army in Scandinavia still played with the Swede.
“A coupled of years after we sold the first X2K we painted one grey and launched at a military exhibition in Indonesia”, says John Lundin.
Since then him, his wife Lizza and PT Lundin has gone from strength to strength.
At that time Lizza had sort of backed out of the daily business. The couple never managed to become parents but here with the new contact to the Indonesian Navy you can say that Lizza got her self a different child. Namely the production and sale of patrol boats to the military.
“The entrance to the military was a whole new ballgame. The impertinence of Lizza can never be overvalued. With out her I would never ever have been able to do what we did. Its common stuffs that friendship and business goes together in Asia. But with the military that business culture is much more developed. For us Lizza became friends with the decision makers at the navy. They never talked business, but she made the important socializing with the wife’s of the generals”, says John Lundin.
While Lizza was busy making contacts with the navy John made his design department create an almost seven wonder if we talk about patrol boats. The X2K became first X2K Fast Interceptor and then the addition X2K RIB with the combination of a fibreglass body/ hull and a inflatable part. Plus night vision, special chairs designed in Sweden and so on.
The RIB ship from PT Lundin is qualified as a patrol ship and to ambush pirates.
And the container Principe was still working with these turnkey boats.
“The Indonesia navy was happy with what they got. Since the first delivery we have sold more than thirty boats to different military units or police. Malaysia and Singapore came next.
Together the two neighbouring countries bought more than 40 boats. Then Brunei followed, the same did WWF Indonesia, and we are still developing on the original X2K concept”. John Lundin says.
More than three years ago John had another lunch appointment with the head of the Indonesian Navy. The latest PT Lundin product at the market is X-38 Patrol and combat Catamaran whose design was commissioned in-part by the Swedish Search and Rescue Service. The boat reaches a speed of 40 knots or approximately 100 kilometres per hour.
“At that meeting I was asked to come up with some very special. Something worthy coming after a proven success as X2K” says John Lundin. He also underlines the difficulties talking about a military project during the creative process.
But John tries to explain as much as he can without breaching any military secrets.
John looked around for a design with lots of speed. It was obvious that it had to be a trimaran. At that time some designers in New Zealand was designing a speed ghost called EarthRace. The boat later won the around the world race. EarthRace is proven the fastets boat ever designed and build.
“Lizza and I plus seven other staff went to New Zealand were we got the attention from day one. I asked them what would happen if we more the less made EartRace three or four times bigger. The answer was that the result would be much much better. The people behind the EarthRace very ready to take part in the development of a super patrol boat witch would almost be a competitor to the much more expensive Swedish patrol boat.
Three years after The Lundins first trip to New Zealand the couple has spend more than 5. mio. US dollars in design and development. Lesser than half of that amount has been sponsored by others.
“We have signed a contract with the Indonesian Navy on delivery of one trimaran patrol boat 60 metres long made in carbon glassfiber and we have the option of three more boats. The Americans have made a trimaran 120 metres long but in aluminium. The only sort of comparable boat at the market is Kockums Visby witch is more advanced but also much much more expensive”, John Lundin insures.
To day the production facilities are ready in Banuywangi. A 63 metres long hall has just enough space to the new project. Workers already prepare wood to make the skeleton to the carbon fibre boat. The carbon fibre witch is also used for production of airplanes and Formula One cars are 20 times stronger than steel.
Upstairs at the offices some of the world’s best on design of speedy boats do the best they can to make a difference.
“WE have done almost whatever to hire the absolute best available designer an engineers at the market. We have designers with experience from The America Cp, Volvo Ocean Race and have also hired experienced designers specialising in Patrol boats from Sweden”, says John Lundin.
While his biggest project is progressing he and his staff also have there creative fingers on some of the smallest boats John has ever had his hands on. Namely a patrol boat designed for rivers.
“The need of patrol boast is huge. The new product is for rivers. You just get it into a container and away you go. When the work is
done, back in the container and off it goes to the next places”, say John Lundin.