The former Meyer Products LLC facility in Damariscotta, Thursday, Dec. 26, 2013. The East Boothbay company Hodgdon Shipbuilding LLC is going to build custom yacht tenders at the long-vacant facility. (J.W. Oliver photo)
By J.W. Oliver
Updated Jan. 8 at 1:55 p.m.
The East Boothbay company Hodgdon Shipbuilding LLC is going to build custom yacht tenders at a long-vacant facility in Damariscotta.
The company is currently preparing to move its Hodgdon Custom Tenders division to 6 Angell Lane, formerly a Meyer Products LLC facility.
A 21,500-square-foot building, including a 19,900-square-foot steel structure and 1,600 square feet of office space, stands on the 7-acre property, which has frontage on Route 1 near the Damariscotta-Nobleboro town line.
The move will create jobs in Damariscotta. “I think initially we would have 10 to 15 (workers at the facility) depending on what work is going on at any point in time,” Hodgdon Yachts Inc. Director of Sales and Marketing Ed Roberts said.
“We will probably hire about 10 new people; about five or so will transfer from the East Boothbay operation,” Roberts said. “Over time, as the business grows, we expect to hire more.”
“The boat business in general, especially the higher-end boats which we build, are both labor intensive and skilled-labor intensive, so the high-end boat business tends to be a very good source of very good jobs,” Roberts said.
“The reason for the move is because the rest of our business is robust enough right now that we’ve outgrown the facility we’re currently using to build the tenders in, here in East Boothbay,” Roberts said.
Damariscotta makes sense for the company as a central location and “a great little community besides,” Roberts said.
“A lot of our workers come from off the (Boothbay) peninsula, so it makes it a little bit easier for people to commute,” Roberts said. “Damariscotta is a nice location to draw from both north, south and west of us.”
The Damariscotta facility will build custom yacht tenders, typically for 250- to 300-foot super-yachts. Large yachts often have a tender, or small boat, to transport people to and from the yacht.
“They’re typically in the size range of about 10 meters, and the limousine version of the boat we do is kind of like a private jet inside,” Roberts said. “It’s used to transport the owner and VIP guests back and forth to the mother ship.”
The price of a custom tender varies greatly. The popular 10.5-meter Limousine Tender, with a design by Michael Peters Yacht Design, of Sarasota, Fla., has a base price of $1.7 million.
Hodgdon Shipbuilding plans to open the facility the first week of February. The company plans to add heat to the warehouse, which currently has none, and add crane capacity, Roberts said.
Hodgdon Shipbuilding will lease the property from Damariscotta North LLC, of Portland.
The expansion is generating positive feedback in the community.
Damariscotta Town Manager Matt Lutkus said he is “very excited about the Hodgdon Yachts decision to expand into Damariscotta.”
“Although it may be a while before they’re up to being fully staffed, in the longer term it sounds like there may be 30 to 40 highly skilled jobs in Damariscotta,” Lutkus said. “We believe that is fantastic news for our local economy, and we are delighted to have Hodgdon Yachts here.”
The 6 Angell Lane facility was “by far the largest” vacant commercial space in Damariscotta, Lutkus said.
The building, once a manufacturing facility and warehouse for Diamond Equipment and Meyer Products LLC, has been vacant since at least January 2011, when Lutkus became town manager.
Diamond Equipment and Meyer Products LLC manufactured snow- and ice-management equipment, such as plows and sanders.
The town of Damariscotta assesses the value of the property and the structure, which dates to 1985, at $318,800.
The Louis Berkman Realty Company, of Steubenville, Ohio, sold the property in April to the Herbert T. Sears Revocable Trust and the Ann M. Sears Revocable Trust, of Exeter, N.H., for $500,000, according to records on file at the Damariscotta town office. The Louis Berkman Realty Company is the parent company of Meyer Products LLC.
The trusts subsequently transferred the property to Damariscotta North LLC. Mason Sears, son of Herbert and Ann Sears, is the manager of Damariscotta North LLC.
Hodgdon Shipbuilding LLC operates Hodgdon Yachts Inc. and three other divisions: Hodgdon Custom Tenders, Hodgdon Defense Composites and Hodgdon Fine Interiors.
Hodgdon Shipbuilding President Timothy Hodgdon represents the fifth generation of his family to build boats on the Damariscotta River in East Boothbay.
The company has more than 55,000 square feet of construction and office space at its main facility at 14 School St. in East Boothbay, according to its website. The interiors division has a manufacturing facility at 150 Main St. in Richmond.