Ernst Burmester was the son of a plumber and did an apprenticeship in his father’s business in Findorff. In 1920 he started the business Gebr. Burmester which had a marina and boatyard. Due to the considerable demand for yachts in the 1920s, the company grew rapidly and in 1925 became the Yacht and Boat shipyard Burmester GmbH.
In the 1930s, the shipyard mainly built lifeboats and small craft, including minesweepers and patrol boats for the Navy. During World War II the Burmester Shipyard was employed as a defense contractor with Dutch, French and Polish forced labourers.
However, focus of the shipyard was the construction of private sailing and motor yachts, in particular offshore yacht, as before the war. The number of employees increased to 750 in 1959.
After his death his family took on the running of the shipyard.