January 11, 2018

Rhode Island company buys Boothbay Harbor Shipyard

Photo / Robert Mitchell
Photo / Robert Mitchell
Andy Tyska, president of Rhode Island-based Bristol Marine, shown at left, announced the acquisition of Boothbay Harbor Shipyard. He's pictured with Eric Graves, vice president of the shipyard, which has been renamed The Shipyard in Boothbay Harbor.

Rhode Island-based Bristol Marine has acquired the Boothbay Harbor Shipyard. Located at the head of Boothbay Harbor, the shipyard joins Bristol Marine's other locations in Bristol, R.I., and Somerset, Mass.

Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

The seller was Terry McClinch, who owned the Boothbay Harbor Shipyard for about 10 years.

"As a private sale, we're focusing on ensuring operations continue and that we're able to invest capital to ensure success for the future," Andy Tyska, president of Bristol Marine, told Mainebiz.

The Boothbay Harbor yard employs about 16 people, all of whom will be retained, he said. That includes Eric Graves, who came to the yard around 2005 and will continue to oversee operations in Boothbay Harbor as vice president of the shipyard, which will be renamed The Shipyard in Boothbay Harbor.

"Eric's been a fantastic leader at the shipyard, and one of the reasons why we were interested in it was because Eric agreed to continue to provide leadership going forward," said Tyska.

Tyska said he expects to do additional hiring as the yard expands its service capabilities.

"We'll be looking at doing some facility upgrades, meaning adding moorings and repairing the pier there" to accommodate boater services, he said.

Boothbay Harbor shipyard seen as 'good fit'

Tyska said he evaluated the purchase over several months.

"The timing was right," he said. "I got to know Eric through other industry connections, and I have two other service operations. Our business is growing. We've been very active in establishing workforce development programs in Rhode Island and Massachusetts. Our goal is to provide opportunities for those who want to work in good-paying year-round jobs in the marine trades. The culture that Eric has created in Boothbay Harbor is remarkably aligned with our existing operations, so it seems like a very good fit."

Tyska founded Bristol Marine in Bristol, R.I., in 1998. In 2012, he purchased the former J&J Marine Fabricating Inc. in Somerset, Mass. The two facilities employ 48 people.

The company has also acquired and improved commercial real estate in the Bristol area, much of which has become home to more than 30 marine-related businesses that employ over 300 individuals.

A long history of shipbuilding

According to its website, the Boothbay Harbor Shipyard, formerly Sample's Shipyard, was founded more than 135 years ago. Its 700-ton marine railway has braced tall ships, super yachts, tugboats, fishing trawlers, Coast Guard vessels and other service craft such as passenger boats and ferries. Its 150-ton railway has accommodated sailing yachts, workboats, schooners and motor vessels.

It is currently undertaking the $6 million, multi-year restoration of the 156-foot Ernestina Morrissey, an Essex, Mass., fishing schooner built in 1894. It is also restoring the three-masted, 171-foot tall ship Friendship of Salem, owned by the U.S. National Park Service.

In a press release, Graves said, "I am excited about the opportunity to work with Andy and Bristol Marine to define the next period in the long legacy of operations at what we will call The Shipyard in Boothbay Harbor. We have a talented team and have built the reputation as one of the many great and capable yards in Maine that care for and restore vessels of all types."

Tyska said the three yards will be able to leverage each other.

"Our administrative capacity will add some value to the operation in Boothbay," he said. "We're also finding that more and more of our customer base is exploring New England in total. Having a recognizable brand available in Maine for our customers in Rhode Island and Massachusetts will help leverage accessibility. I think the same is true for the customers we'll have in Maine, as they cruise waters in southeastern Massachusetts and Rhode Island."

Tyska said he views boatbuilding and servicing in an optimistic light.

"Maine is in a good position to provide a product that is the best in the world," he said. "So if boatbuilding is going to be successful, it's going to be in Maine. Regarding related services, whether it's repair, refit or product supply, I believe that as long as people have boats, there will be continued demand for good service performed by great tradesmen and tradeswomen. We hope to be part of that in Maine."


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