Spotlight on Portland Yacht Services

Man and woman in front of boats in inside storage facility

Phin and Joanna Sprague

Phin Sprague, president of Portland Yacht Services, has been a commercial client of Norway Savings Bank for 15 years. Portland Yacht Services performs a variety of services on boats, both small and large. It is a diverse business that employs technicians with high levels of expertise.

In early 2013, Phin sold his property at 58 Fore Street, Portland which had been the home for his primary business, Portland Yacht Services, for many years. To preserve the jobs of his long term employees and his legacy, Phin made the decision to purchase 22 acres of land on West Commercial Street, abutting the Casco Bay Bridge and move his boat repair business to the new location.

After the purchase, some of that acreage was taken by MDOT through eminent domain so they could build a cold storage facility for the Icelandic shipping company, Eimskip. Despite this setback, Phin was able to secure financing through Norway Savings Bank to purchase additional land on the other side of his property which allowed him to continue his building plans. Phin has constructed two new buildings, a boat ramp and docks allowing him to complete the move of his business. The first building is a 19,200-square-foot tension fabric boat storage building and the second is a 27,600-square-foot industrial steel building for boat repair and storage.

The move to 100 West Commercial Street preserved a good portion of Portland’s working waterfront and made very good use of vacant land at the entrance to the city. Phin plans to continue to develop the property to house other marine-related businesses. “You can’t have a harbor without a commercial boat yard. Being able to service a wide variety of boats and engines is good for the economy,” says Phin. “The waterfront is the accumulator of businesses for the city. A busy harbor brings in visitors that will stay at local hotels and inns and will spend their money at local shops and restaurants.”

In addition to investing in economic development, Phin believes strongly in investing in training for his employees. He feels the highly technical repair work they are able to do sets Portland Yacht Services apart from other boat yards. Phin is also a strong believer in encouraging young people to enter the marine trade. Portland Yacht Services has built an active recruitment program with The Landing School in Arundel and the Portland Arts & Technology High School to develop top local talent. They are also active in the Sail Maine program. “Boats are a wonderful way to teach people to look into the future,” says Phin. “The conditions when you’re on the water shift frequently and force you to anticipate and accommodate changes without losing sight of your destination.”