Boat business needs more workers, new buyers

House boat

ROCKLAND, Maine (NEWS CENTER) -- Maine people love their boats, and there’s plenty to love this weekend in Rockland. The annual Maine Boats, Homes and Harbors  show began Friday morning on the Rockland waterfront.

The show organizer and others in the boating business say business is good right now. They say builders are busy, some with order backlogs that will last for two years. But those builders also face what’s become a familiar challenge in Maine: not enough workers.

Show organizer and Maine Boats Homes and Harbors  magazine publisher John Hanson said the problem is widespread.

“We are doing very well, (but) where can we get more good people to help us do even better?” Hanson said.

People in the boat business say they also need to do more to recruit a new generation of buyers, because many current boat owners are growing old.

Hanson said there are younger people who want boats, but that builders and dealers need to attract them by promoting smaller, more affordable boats to get them started.

“So people can come in and say look at these cool little boats, I can afford that,” said Hanson. “And when you get into that, then you say. ‘Oh look at that one it’s a little bigger, I like that one.”

One younger couple is already looking. Ethan and Hope Therrien of Sumner were inspecting a number of boats at the show, because they want to buy. And they don’t plan to go small.

“I never lived on a boat and never owned a boat, but I’m going to try,” said Hope.

They have started a five year plan to buy a boat big enough to live on, practice with it for a few years and then pack up and head to sea.

It’s a dream that many boat lovers might share, but only a few will get to do it. The rest, especially at this show can still dream.

© 2017 WCSH-TV


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