Angus King visits Midcoast businesses
Camden — Following a breakfast with supporters at The Waterfront Restaurant in Camden on Thursday, Sept. 6, former Maine Governor and 2012 U.S. Senatorial candidate Angus King made an array of stops in Camden, Rockport and Rockland.
Accompanied by a small group of staffers, King arrived at Camden's Wayfarer Marine shortly after 10 a.m. Wayfarer CFO Susan Howland and Boat Yard Manager Brad Ellsworth greeted King and discussed the nature of Wayfarer's business. Howland explained Wayfarer primarily offers full-commission boat building, winter storage and a full range of boat maintenance and repair services. Additionally she explained that they have 1,300 linear feet of dockage and 30 boat slips.
King and Howland discussed the origin of Wayfarer's clientele; King inquired about whether Wayfarer receives a lot of business from out of state and Howland said they do.
"So you're an export business," King stated.
"[What we do] is all tied into the whole global economy," said Howland.
Ellsworth lead King through several buildings where boat work was underway. Ellsworth said it has been a challenge to find enough workers with the requisite skill set for Wayfarer.
"Our biggest challenge is finding people," he said. "[There is a lack] of interest of availability of good, solid education in marine trades... I was lucky enough to learn from old-timers."
"I keep running into this, we have an unemployment problem but we have empty jobs," King said. King, Ellsworth and Howland discussed the marine-based trade training options presently available in Maine.
"[Training is] an opportunity for Maine to grow our heritage," Howland added, "these are jobs that people can be proud of."
After departing Wayfarer, King and company headed for downtown Camden where he greeted supporters on the street and made short appearances at Boynton McKay Food Co. and French and Brawn.
"There's always something interesting and I always learn something," King said of touring Maine communities.
He said he has heard the sentiment expressed at Wayfarer — businesses with available jobs but no one with proper training to fill them — in other parts of the state as well. He recalled one instance in York County where he met with the local Chamber of Commerce and was informed of 500 local machinist jobs that could not be filled because of a lack of skilled workforce.
"I think we need a skills summit," King said. "Let's talk about how the state and federal government can effectively partner."
He noted he would like to facilitate such a discussion.
"I think listening is a crucial political skill," he said.
After visiting downtown Camden, King proceeded to Rockport Marine — but not before making a stop at Rankin's Hardware. King spoke with Clarence Keller and Lisa Burgess, as well as a collection of customers.
"Gus!" said a man in a green shirt as he approached King. "Let me test your memory."
Visibly surprised, King looked at the man for a moment.
"I went to college with this guy!" King said. "Bob — ?"
King recalled — correctly — the man, Bob Baldwin, was an accountant last he saw him.
King arrived at Rockport Marine as staff congregated in various parts of the sunny boat yard to eat lunch. He talked about boats — and the skill of boat builders — as the group told him about their recent projects including the three-year restoration of Fife yacht Adventuress, docked just yards away. His Deputy Political and Field Director Ben Tucker distributed bumper stickers and snapped photos before heading to an arranged lunch at Rockland's Brass Compass Cafe.
Courier Publications reporter Jenna Lookner can be reached at 236-8511 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.