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November 17, 2021

Former Vic Firth drumstick factory in Newport sells to boat dealership

aerial of buildings and lake with arrow Courtesy / Tranzon Auction Properties Drumstick manufacturer Vic Firth Co.’s former factory, at 77 High St. in Newport, sold at auction last week to Waterville boat dealer Hamlin’s Marine. Vic Firth relocated to a new factory across town.

Now that Vic Firth Co. has relocated to a new facility within Newport, the famed drumstick and mallet manufacturer’s 1960s-era factory has sold to Waterville-based boat dealer Hamlin's Marine.

Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Hamlin’s was founded in 1984 by Dave and Christine Hamlin. 

In 2006, they opened Hamlin’s Marina in Hampden with their son-in-law and daughter, Dan and Katie Higgins, who took over the business. In 2020, Dan and Katie opened a third location on the Belfast waterfront.

Altogether, Hamlin’s sells boats and provides service, the marina and indoor storage.

“Our service and storage needs have grown and we anticipate will continue to grow,” Dan Higgins told Mainebiz.

person posing
Courtesy / Hamlin's Marine 
Dan Higgins

The Newport property was attractive for a number of reasons. The four-acre property is central to the other three locations. It has 933 feet of water frontage on Sebasticook Lake. And it has 68,247 square feet in area across seven primary buildings. 

“A bonus is that my in-laws, Dave and Chris Hamlin, who started the business, live on the lake,” said Higgins.

Vic Firth relocation

Vic Firth operated at 77 High St. in Newport since 1963. It relocated to 34 Progress Park in Newport Industrial Park, a half-mile move that came after the acquisition and multiyear refit of an existing building at the park. Vic Firth is a division of Avendis Zildjian Co., a cymbal manufacturer in Norwell, Mass.

Zildjian listed 77 High St. for auction through Tranzon Auction Properties. The weeklong bidding process was conducted online, ending Nov. 10. There were 14 bidders from throughout the United States.

Turnkey facility

Higgins was the winning bidder. He declined to cite the purchase price.

The facility is turnkey, noted Higgins.

“The site’s been very well maintained,” he said. “Vic Firth did as very nice job of exiting and leaving a very clean facility.”

The deal is anticipated to finalize in December, he said.

The plan is to start using the facility next spring for the Hamlin’s growing boat storage market. 

“Long-term, it’s impossible not to see the potential for boat sales and rentals and docking,” he said. “The reason it made sense for us to pick up the property is the storage capacity. But we also see potential for future growth and more boating-related business there.”

aerial of building and boats
Courtesy / Hamlin's Marine 
Boat storage has reached capacity at Hamlin’s flagship site in Waterville, seen here. The Newport site will be used for the company’s growing storage market, to start.

Hamlin's has been the Northeast’s largest dealer for Yamaha outboard engines for the past 12 years, he said.

“This year we sold 520 Yamahas,” he said. “That’s been due to the growth of mainly pontoon boats, fishing boats and coastal and freshwater boats switching to outboard power. So I look at Yamaha outboard sales as a measure of growth.”

Staff numbers have grown, too. Since 2004, when Higgins first came on, the company had about 22 employees. Today it has 55. During that time, the business has grown from one location in Waterville to four today, counting the Newport site.

boats, docks and water
Courtesy / Hamlin's Marine 
Hamlin’s Marine opened its third location last year, on the Belfast waterfront.

Securing the facility for additional storage space will allow the company to expand its Waterville facility, which is at capacity for boat storage. The Waterville location stores over 500 boats inside over the winter and the Hampden facility stores over 200. 

“It continues to grow,” he said. “This last year, storage grew by about 20%. Everyone has seen the effect the pandemic has had, pushing outdoor activity. Boating’s really seen that over the last 18 months.”

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