Paul Richards is a businessman and seaplane enthusiast, so when the opportunity arose for him to purchase ownership of a seaplane float manufacturer, it was a perfect fit. With a loan from Coastal Enterprises Inc. (CEI) and an investment from a Maine-based private equity group, Paul purchased Clamar Floats, in 2018 and relocated Clamar’s manufacturing operations from Canada to Maine.
The new location in TechPlace on Brunswick Landing, which includes a world-class shared composites facility, was ideal. Clamar was a well-established brand with a strong customer base. There was just one problem: none of the company’s Canadian workers wanted to relocate. How do you build a company, let alone a seaplane float, without employees?
Trained composite technicians are hard to come by in Maine and the lack of workforce presented a serious challenge for Clamar. The Maine Composite Alliance estimates that there are roughly 80-100 vacant composite related positions in Maine. Clamar’s hand-crafted floats require expert knowledge to manufacture, and with a change in ownership, quality is essential. One slipup could tarnish Calmar’s reputation.
The CEI Workforce Solutions team stepped in to help Paul search for qualified composite technicians. After an initial discussion with CEI about the nature of the jobs and the competitive recruiting environment, Clamar decided to raise its starting wage by $2/hour. While wages are important, Paul also recognized that employees thrive when they feel empowered to make decisions about how they do their jobs. During the recruitment process – starting with the tone of the job descriptions and the style of the candidate interviews, Paul clearly communicated that Clamar offers a fair and engaging environment. Right away, Clamar found two veterans, trained in airplane maintenance. One more composite technician gave Paul the team he needed to start making their first floats, chipping away at the large backlog of work that accrued while the company changed locations.
With a core team in place, CEI Workforce Solutions advised Paul to start building connections with local educational institutions to develop a workforce pipeline. Together, Paul and CEI Workforce Solutions reached out to the Southern Maine Community College (SMCC) Composite Lab and Region 10 Technical High School’s pre-apprenticeship program to identify additional candiates and made three hires, including one that leveraged on-the-job training funds from the Department of Labor (via Goodwill of Northern New England) to cover 50% of the candidate’s wages for several months, while he continued learning.
Now, with a team of six, Clamar is fully operational and producing top-quality floats. The relationships initiated by CEI Workforce Solutions and now maintained by Paul, means that if he needs another team member, he now has great connections with the relevant educators in his community. And, as Clamar grows, CEI will be there to help.
LEARN MORE ABOUT CLAMAR FLOATS
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We encourage employers to overcome business challenges by investing in employees and considering changes to jobs that would be mutually beneficial. To learn more about our Good Jobs Framework, visit https://www.ceimaine.org/advising/workforce-solutions/