How We Started – Part 3 (An Instant Office)

By the end of May in 2005, we learned that the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard had officially made the recommended list of bases that should be closed. Making the list did not ensure closure since members of the Base Realignment Closure (BRAC) committee still had the final say. But historically speaking, once you make the list, your chances of getting off the list are less than 95%. The news brought sadness to all of us - this historic 205 year old shipyard, which had survived many closure threats in the past, would finally cease to exist. But we were also glad we had begun preparations for our post-shipyard livelihood. We anticipated it would take 2 years before we were officially laid off by the shipyard.


Just a little background about this historic shipyard and the history of shipbuilding in general in the Seacoast area of Maine New Hampshire: Building naval ships in this area began in 1690 when the HMS Falkland was built for the British Royal Navy. John Paul Jones USS Ranger was also built in this area. In 1798 the US Congress established the Navy Department and in 1800 the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard was established as the first permanent shipyard devoted exclusively to the construction and repair of vessels for the US Navy. During World War I the shipyard began building submarines and during World War II more than 70 submarines were built at the shipyard, including 3 submarines that were launched on the same day. No other public or private shipyard has matched this record. So shipbuilding in this area was not just a job, it was part of the culture.


By this time, several of us had already read books pertaining to starting and operating an engineering consulting business. I had also read books about setting-up accounting methods for our business. Tim O’Connell Jason Orr took a course on how to start a business. And we eagerly sought advice from other engineers with experience in owning a consulting business. Fortunately one of our partners, David Plante, knew 3 local engineers; Rick Cloughlin (Great Works Engineering), Rich Nowak ( Eric Flinkstrom (EF Consulting) who had started their careers at the shipyard and now all own successful engineering firms. David communicated our situation with all 3, who not only provided us with great advice but also with office equipment, furniture, reference books and files! An instant office!


Rick Cloughlin owned the entire office building which housed Great Works Engineering located in South Berwick, Maine. When devastating hurricanes damaged many homes businesses in Florida in 2004, Rick joined in the effort to evaluate the damage and help out with the reconstruction. Rick enjoyed his work in Florida so much, and was spending some much time away from his home and office in Maine, that he decided to sell his office building and donate whatever he no longer needed to us. Rich Eric also had offices in Rick’s building and similarly donated much of their items to us. We didn’t have an office but we suddenly had a lot of neat stuff.


Rick, Rich Eric also provided us with our first 3 jobs. So not only did they give us all their cool stuff, they also gave our new company our first income.


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