Maine yacht builder puts out the call

Published on December 14th, 2022

Hinckley Yachts counts among its customers David Rockefeller, Martha Stewart, and Roger Penske.

The Southwest Harbor-based company builds just 30 to 40 yachts a year and, even with a starting price of around $1.5 million, there’s a waiting list for prospective boat buyers.

Yet for Hinckley, which has 240 employees in Maine and about 700 on the East Coast, expansion depends on finding skilled workers. It hopes to expand its Maine workforce by 10% to 15%, which would translate to some 25 to 35 employees.

“We need top carpenters, electricians and mechanics,” says Kirk Ritter, general manager of the Southwest Harbor Service Center. “Traditionally, we wanted to hire people with marine industry experience, but there just aren’t enough experienced people in those disciplines anymore.”

At the same time, like many other employers, its longtime employees are nearing retirement — so, with Hinckley already facing down the baby boomer cliff, it has turned to an innovative program to bring in more employees, turning to an Arundel (ME) boatbuilding school to train people with previous building experience how to build boats.

Like nearly every outdoor sport, boating saw a surge in popularity (and spending) during the height of the pandemic.

Hinckley says that the surge of new boat orders and boat owners led to a dramatic increase in demand for everything yacht harbors do, and an already tight labor market was squeezed even harder. – Full report

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