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November 2015 MAINE COASTAL NEWS Page 5. Light Fiberglass Moves to Steuben

STEUBEN – Over the past several months many have been watching a huge three bay shop going up right next to Kennedy Marine Engineering in Steuben. It was no secret that this was to be the new home of Light’s Fiberglass of Corea. They had worked for more than 23 years in Corea and it was be- coming obvious to owner, Mike Light, that if he wanted to get bigger and fi nish off more boats, he needed a new shop.

He explained, “About a year ago I start- ed getting all of these orders. I could only do two boats at a time down there and if I kept doing it that way I was going to have to turn boats away and I didn’t want to do that. The only solution was a three bay shop. I was actually looking at land down in Goulds- boro and I told “B,” who is my fabricator, what my plans were. Of course “B” told his brother Roger (Kennedy) and Roger came and saw me. He has been thinking about something like this, but not for now maybe later on down the road. I just turned 55 so I’ve been doing this for 35 years and I’m getting tired. This is like the last big hurrah. I am thinking I have got ten more years in me. My big reservation was when I was ready to get done who was going to be interested in a 6000 square foot building down there? So with Roger, we went 50-50. I pay him to stay out and when I’m ready to get done he will buy me out.”

Since he made the decision to expand, he has been thinking about the shop’s lay- out. He thought about effi ciency right from the start. This is a three bay shop with each bay separated by a wall and three zones of radiant heat in the fl oor. When you walk in, there is a storage, cutting and bathroom on the lower level. Going up there is a walkway running across the back of the shop from one end to the other. There are also walk ways down the side in each bay. On the left side of the building there is a large work area for bigger equipment, a break room and offi ce.” “For twenty-three years I have been

fi ghting for space,” said Mike. “I am sure that you have been there when that place was gagged up with boats everywhere. If you notice I’ve got each bay separated by big walls and there will be sliding doors on the top and bottom. That way I can close off the top and bottom, but I am not in a hurry

right now because I know all three bays are going to be full for three years.” Mike said the old place was full of holes and he was scared to run the furnace when he was not there. He did add that even in this new place when he leaves at night there is nothing left plugged in. The old shop Mike had was the original shop of the Young Brothers and over the years they added two sections.

Mike added, “It is going to be bitter- sweet when I go down there the last time. Probably two months ago we were still down there and all this was coming together and I’m putting money into this place and I’m still down there and I was thinking what the hell am I doing? My wife Tammy has been really supportive. I didn’t have to take on all these boats; I could do two at a time; but I have a hard time saying no. I just went down there the other day to get some stuff and I walked in and I’m looking at the size, all the insulation hanging down, the fl oor is wet and the back wall is half hanging down and I can see why I got out.”

Really anyone who makes a move sim- ilar to this always thinks about effi ciency. Five months ago Mike started buying tools so that he had triple sets of everything so each bay would have their own set. “They will be able to get everything in their own bay,” said Mike. “I am the overseer. I do all of the designing and rigging so there is always 100 questions coming at me in one day.” Presently in the shop they have a two Calvin Beal 44s and a Mussel Ridge 46. All are being fi nished out as commercial boats. The fi rst to go over will be one of the Calvin Beal 44, which going to Massachusetts, and will be launched about the middle of No- vember. The next one, also a Calvin Beal 44, will be going to Cutler. The Mussel Ridge 46 is being fi nished off for a fi sherman from Gouldsboro, but he fi shes out of Milbridge. When asked how he got into the busi- ness, he explained “Vin was my stepfather so I got employed by Young Brothers in 1980 when I was 20. When I fi rst went there I didn’t know anything. I rolled out fi berglass in the lay-up room making hulls. After a while I graduated up onto a boat and started doing carpentry, which is what I really wanted to do. They put me under


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Johnny Moore and he taught me the basics. I was with Johnny probably three years and then I was a lead carpenter.”

After 12 years, Mike decided to go out

on his own . “It was scary, said Mike, “and I left and did NORTHERN CONTENDER. She was 60 x 21 footer. We went down to Richard Alley’s (Beals Island) and he had already started on it. I went down there every day and glassed the whole inside of that boat and got the bulkheads in so we could move it to the (Winter Harbor) marina and that is where we fi nished it. While I was doing that I got another boat to do. The fi rst two boats after NORTHERN CONTENDER I built outdoors in the Winter Harbor marina yard. Then I didn’t have anything to do the following winter so I got a job at the marina. In the spring I got some jobs and for a couple of years I didn’t have a new boat to build but I always had jobs to do. Then Norman Work- man came to see me about building him a boat and of course his brother-in-law, Larry Smith had a big garage in Winter Harbor so I got moved inside. I built two or three boats there. Then Vid approach me about going

into the old Young Brothers shop because it was vacant so I moved down there in 1992.” When the Young Brothers operation was in transition they asked Mike if he would be interested in running it. He added, “I was actually approached by Vid because Vid was in the offi ce. I told him I would think about it. I said yes and started turning down orders. I was down to nothing and someone said Young Brothers doesn’t have any orders. I went right down and went up to the offi ce and said Vid “How much work do you have?” He said, “We’ve got nothing.” I told him the deal was off and I went back and got on the phone and I got probably 80% of my hulls back.”

Mike is one the best fi nishers on the coast. Last summer when the KIM CE- LESTE showed up at the lobster boat races in Boothbay she turned a number of heads. He likes fl at smooth, no corners are cut, and he wants your boatbuilding experience to be enjoyable. There may be a lot of orders on his board, but do not let that stop you from giving Mike a call if you are looking to fi nish out a boat.

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Belfast,Maine  207-930-3740

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