TRENTON, Maine — Having already laid off dozens of people at its local production facility since last fall, Hinckley Yachts has announced it is laying off more employees and may have to close the plant down altogether.

James McManus, president and CEO of the firm, said Friday that the company told its Trenton employees Thursday that it plans to lay off 26 people on Monday, April 27.

McManus said the company has enough orders for the power yachts it makes in Trenton to keep it operating through February 2010. If the company does not get enough orders to keep the facility going, he said, it will shutter the plant and move its picnic boat manufacturing operations to another location.

Even if it closes the plant, he said, Hinckley will maintain the facility so it can resume operations there when the economy recovers and orders pick back up.

“We did announce layoffs yesterday,” McManus said. “For the long-term health of our operations in Maine, there are short-term steps we need to take.”

McManus said he is not sure how many people will still work at the Trenton site after the layoffs go into effect.

When they do, Hinckley will have laid off 100 workers in Trenton since last October. The Trenton plant opened in 1998 and employed between 200 and 300 people there earlier this decade.

Hinckley Yachts was founded in Southwest Harbor in 1928. In 2002, it had more than 700 employees, approximately 500 of whom worked in Maine. As of April 27, the company is expected to have fewer than 200 employees in the state.

McManus declined to indicate where the company would make its picnic boats if it shutters the Trenton facility. Besides Trenton and Southwest Harbor, Hinckley owns and operates service yards in Florida, Georgia, Maryland, New Jersey and Rhode Island.

McManus stressed that the company always has adjusted its employment levels to match the demand for its boats and that the current situation is no different. He said the company will continue to make sailing yachts in Southwest Harbor and is not planning to alter its product line.

“The Hinckley Company remains 100 percent committed to building sailing and power yachts in Maine,” McManus said. “All of us remain completely committed to building the finest boats in the world.”

In a prepared statement released Friday afternoon, U.S. Sens. Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins indicated they will do what they can to help the laid off employees make the transition to finding new jobs.

“The Hinckley Company has been a cornerstone in Maine’s shipbuilding industry, and we were deeply saddened to learn the facility anticipates its doors will permanently be shuttered,” the senators wrote in the statement.

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Bill Trotter

A news reporter in coastal Maine for more than 20 years, Bill Trotter writes about how the Atlantic Ocean and the state's iconic coastline help to shape the lives of coastal Maine residents and visitors....