Tim Hodgdon show’s Gov. Baldacci plans in the offices of the new division of Hodgen’s Yachts, in Richmond, Maine. Photo by Ramona du Houx
Article by Ramona du Houx
A lot of businesses are struggling through the energy crisis, but Hodgdon Yachts has more business than they can currently take on board.
“The growth potential for our joinery division is tremendous. We continue to turn down contracts due to lack of capacity and will keep this new facility busy for the foreseeable future,” said CEO and President Tim Hodgdon.
The facility Hodgdon refers to is in Richmond, Maine, where a ribbon cutting ceremony was recently held. Production already is under way in the 30,000 square feet of space Hodgdon Yachts is leasing in the Richmond Business and Manufacturing Center. And they’re hiring.
“Sixty jobs are going to be created here,” said Department of Economic and Community Development Commissioner John Richardson (photo far right). “If you take care of the companies that are here, in Maine, they will take care of you. We want to see the workers succeed here and around the world, for their success becomes our success.”
The workers will use computer skills and woodworking skills to expertly craft interiors for Hodgdon’s yachts and other yacht makers around the world.
“This expansion of the Hodgdon family’s near-200-year-old business provides yet another example of Maine’s leadership in the boatbuilding industry,” said Governor Baldacci. “The company is recognized internationally for quality boat building and for boat interiors because it has remained committed to providing the highest quality product, investing in the latest technology and utilizing what we know is Maine’s best resource — out talented and productive workforce.”
Hodgdon officials said they choose Richmond for its aggressive support for the project; the State’s the Pine Tree Zone designation, which gives companies substantial tax breaks, a $400,000 Community Development Block Grant from the DECD, and a high quality workforce.
“There is a heritage of quality craftsmanship, which comes with a Hodgdon yacht. Our skill sets in Maine can’t be surpassed. We assemble yachts in East Boothby and Florida,” said Tim Smith of Hodgdon. “We can export the finished product to Florida but we can’t export the skilled labor to Florida.”
The governor said that Hodgdon Yachts has been an important partner with the state in promoting boat building as one of Maine’s critical economic clusters.
“When you say the name Hodgdon, you’re talking about quality, pride, and craftsmanship; you’re talking about honesty and integrity, and you’re talking about Maine,” said Baldacci during the opening ceremony. “Tim is like an ambassador for the state of Maine. It’s important to recognize that what happened here can happen anywhere in the state. The Pine Tree Economic Development Zone is a program for companies statewide. And we’re pumping as much as we can get into Research and Development (R & D) to help grow private sector jobs,” said the governor.
The UM advanced composite R&D center was crucial for Hodgdon Yacht’s development of the Navy SEALs’ launch. Utilizing composites, Hodgdon built the cutting-edge launch so that it absorbs the impact of the boat traveling over waves at high speeds, instead of the SEALs’ spines absorbing the impact.
By utilizing the technologies of the 21st century, developed in Maine, Hodgdon is a prime example of how a traditional industry is moving ahead, being successful in the global economy. Working with Maine Built Boats and the state, they are also aggressively marketing boats worldwide. International trade has opened doors because of the weakened dollar and MBB, including Hodgdon Yachts, went to Hong Kong, where markets are opening up for high-end boats. This all is great news for skilled workers in Maine.
“This is a huge step for the town of Richmond. Hodgdon has been hiring local contractors, and working with the community every step of the way,” said Darryl Sterling, economic development director of Richmond. “We gave regular PowerPoint presentations to the community about the project and held meetings. When the town voted to have Hodgdon here, it was unanimous.”
Richmond also gave the company a TIF business loan for the expansion.
“We’re excited Hodgdon will become part of Richmond’s shipbuilding legacy that stretches back to the 1800s,” said Town Manager Thomas Fortier.
Photo: Gov. Baldacci talks with workers of Hodgdon’s hired to build quality ship interiors in Richmond
“This is really a community effort where everybody worked together for this outcome. The state, the town, and the people all came together,” said building owner David Smaha who bought the former Etonic shoe factory, hoping to fill it with businesses. Shucks Lobster is also a tenet. Hodgdon is using about half the space in the building.
“It’s wonderful seeing people working here again and the parking lot full.” said Selectman Seth Goodall, who was instrumental in making the project happen.
CEO Hodgdon wanted a location where the community wanted Hodgdon Yachts. “The entire community of Richmond was so supportive, it made it impossible to consider any other possibility,” said Hodgdon. “We intend to return that faith with a solid commitment to the town.”
Because of the increase in orders, Hodgdon is looking at opening yet another location for Hodgdon Yachts, in Maine. “We have other plans to continue to expand in the near future in Maine, “said Hodgdon. The 192-year-old company’s headquarters will remain in East Boothbay.