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Karis Finds Success in Listening

Robert Johan Karis, known popularly as Robby, has operated his family business Nautikaris since 1983. The Dutch manufacturer’s representative sells equipment for the hydrographic survey and oceanographic industries, bringing a large measure of personality as well as technical expertise to the job.

Karis’s father started the business in 1965, while the young Robby worked at other jobs, including selling for Xerox, where he learned that “the best conversation is one in which you mostly listen.” When his father died in 1983, Robby took over the company and began building up a range of equipment that offers a solution for every level of need. Three years ago, his son Sander joined the company.

One of his best success stories is with Knudsen Engineering’s echo sounders. He signed as their European representative in 1993.

“During the relationship, Nautikaris has brought a larger number of sales of Knudsen equipment than any other agent,” said Judith Knudsen, company vice president.

According to Karis, 70 percent of his Knudsen sales were to dredging companies, and Boskalis and HAM have standardized on Knudsen equipment. In 2000, he sold 25 percent of Knudsen’s total turnover.

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