Adam Martin, plant manager at Harvey Performance Company in Gorham, says skilled labor is always difficult to find. Robert Lowell / American Journal

Harvey Performance Company is geared up and right at home in its spiffy new Gorham digs on Raceway Drive, but it’s a bit short of help.

The expansion-minded company, which manufactures precision industrial cutting tools for the aviation, medical and power generation industries, employs 98 employees over three shifts. That’s down from 110 before the pandemic struck.

Machinist Dante Haynes joined Harvey Performance in May. Robert Lowell / American Journal

Now they’re recruiting engineers and machinists and working with area high schools and colleges to bolster the skilled labor force.

“There’s a good career in manufacturing,” said plant manager Adam Martin, adding that it’s always difficult to find skilled employees.

Lisa Martin, executive director of  Manufacturers Association of Maine, said the shortage of tradespeople is “absolutely” statewide. Three years ago, she said, there was an average of 1,000 to 1,200 job openings in Maine compared to 6,000-7,000 job openings this year.

“It’s a serious problem,” she said, adding there’s an estimated 2 million to 3 million job openings in manufacturing across the country, primarily in production.

Harvey Performance, headquartered in Rowley, Massachusetts, relocated its Helical Solutions division from a cramped facility in the Gorham Industrial Park to a new, 79,000-square-foot plant last fall. It’s built on 13 acres carved out of a 62-acre site that was once a harness horse racetrack on Narragansett Street.

The Helical division had 80 employees when it sought Gorham approval in 2018 for a new plant.

Adam Martin said it takes a year of job experience to become proficient.

A production area at the new Gorham facility. Robert Lowell / American Journal

Experienced machinist Dante Haynes of Limerick used Harvey-made tools in a previous job. He joined Harvey in May.

“I love it, I love what I do,” Haynes said.

Declining to reveal dollar amounts, Martin said Harvey’s benefits and wages are competitive and based on experience.

A STEM teacher at Massabesic High School in Waterboro will visit the plant Aug. 16 as part of the Maine Blue Collar Scholarship Foundation program. Martin said the teacher will “job shadow” and take back to students information on career opportunities.

The foundation provides scholarships to encourage high school students to pursue careers in trades. Martin said Gorham business owner Shawn Moody is a program advocate, but Moody could not be reached for comment by the American Journal’s deadline Wednesday.

Martin hopes the new facility will be a “strong” drawing point to attract skilled personnel. The company spent a year and half planning the facility, he said. He declined to disclose the cost of the building.

The single-story facility features plenty of windows, which “create a nice atmosphere,” Martin said. It has glistening manufacturing areas with  gray floors, white walkways and underground utilities.

“The town of Gorham is proud that Harvey Performance chose to expand their operations in Gorham,” said Kevin Jensen, Gorham’s economic development director.  “The new facility is a great example of what advanced manufacturing looks like in the 21st century – clean, modern and state-of-the-art.”
The town of Gorham produced a video with Harvey Performance, which can be viewed at vimeo.com/575550527.

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