Harken Derm

One reason why R.I. jobless rate is dropping

Published on March 29th, 2015

Scuttlebutt World Headquarters is exceedingly proud of the elite roster of companies that support our publication, and we love it when their local communities recognize them too. In this report by the Providence Journal, Mark Patinkin gives props to one of the top builders in the game…

I saw that Rhode Island’s unemployment rate is down, so I asked which companies are hiring, got some names, picked one and drove to Portsmouth to see what they’re up to.

It’s called New England Boatworks and I’ll be honest why I chose them.

What they do sounded totally cool.

They build some of the world’s most high-performance crafts — including past America’s Cup contenders, and currently, the prototype of an aluminum “chase boat” that can go fast enough to get a ticket on Route 95.

I assumed the company would be under one big roof, but it turns out they have a campus — 15 hangar-sized buildings on 30 acres. I guess it takes a lot of room to make serious boats.

They’re not far from Portsmouth Abbey, right on the Bay overlooking an enormous marina of 360 slips, which New England Boatworks also runs.

I met an exec named Harry Hallgring at their central office. He’s a good example of job opportunity there. Hallgring spent a career as Newport’s fire chief, retired four years ago on a Wednesday, and then, the next Monday, came out of retirement to begin work as NEB’s safety director.

He’s a deferential guy but takes his job seriously — first he said hello, then he asked me to put on safety goggles.

I told him I wanted to see the sexiest part of the operation. A lot of what they do, he said, qualified for that, but he felt we should start in “The Oven.”

I figured that meant a kiln for parts. In fact, it’s a whole heatable hangar. If you’re in the business of high-tech carbon-composite sailboats — some more than 100 feet long — you need a big oven.

We had to walk a few minutes outside to reach it. Inside, I saw that “the oven” doubles as a windowless assembly space. There were 15 or so skilled craftsmen in there making a 44-foot carbon-composite racing sailboat. It sat in two pieces — half the guys were moving around the unattached deck, the other half inside the hull.

Like many boats they build here, this one will likely be an event, almost certainly getting acclaim in yachting media.

I was also escorted by Barry Steinberg, the company’s sales manager, and I told him the workers seemed to be moving pretty fast. The boat’s launch is set for May to make the summer racing season, he explained, so the pressure’s on.

He half-joked: “These guys basically don’t go home.”

Much more… click here

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