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Portland Yacht Services

New Building, New Door Opens New Opportunities For Maine Boat Services Business

In its nearly four decades of operation, Portland Yacht Services has served approximately 12,000 customers. With the recent construction of an 80’ x 150’ marina service building, along with the acquisition of a 330-metric-ton Marine Travelift, the Portland, ME-based business is now poised to service bigger boats and even more customers. The key element in bringing the company’s latest service expansion plan to fruition was equipping the new building with a door large enough for the new Travelift to fit through. Manufacturing such a door might’ve been a problem for some, but not for Hector, MN-based Schweiss Doors.

“The goal was to create a shipyard for my harbor that will last a long time after I’m gone,” says Phineas Sprague Jr. He and his wife, Joanna, founded Portland Yacht Services way back in 1981. “The building, the bifold door and the Travelift were designed specifically to service particular boats of large size that are in the harbor. The opportunity is to save these people a lot of money in what they used to have to do to maintain their boats. Having an expanded facility here in Portland now means they won’t have to travel long distances away from home. It will allow them to do the work on their boats in the off-season in a more controlled environment and to make sure the coating systems on their boats last five to 10 years by having tighter control on the environment. As a subarctic state, the ability to haul boats and bring them inside, out of the weather, and do them quickly and efficiently, is major money in the pockets of the boat owners that we service."

Irishspan Industries of Alfred, ME, erected the new structure. It is the company’s fourth project for Portland Yacht Services. Two of the previous buildings also have doors from Schweiss, but they’re not as big. For the new marina service building—which has a 71’ eave and a 1:12 roof pitch—the door measures a whopping 62’ wide by 60’ tall. That ranks it as the second-tallest door ever produced by Schweiss, surpassed only by a 90’-wide by 61’-tall door erected a few years back for a rocket hangar at Cape Canaveral in Florida.

With sheeting, the new door for Portland Yacht Service weighs in at 42,415 pounds and is wind-rated for 115 mph. For added strength, it has one exterior truss and five interior trusses. It’s equipped with four 5-horsepower motors, 24 liftstraps and an automatic latching system. Ten windows were also installed in the door to take advantage of natural light. The door’s size made the install more difficult, but there were no significant issues.

“There were a few challenges installing this big door,” admitted Dave Fitzpatrick, owner of Irishspan. “I leaned on Dave Schweiss a little bit and he was instrumental in helping us get the door to go up straight. The owner of Portland Yacht Services always liked the original Schweiss door we installed four years ago.”

The building, the Travelift and the new door were all designed with the harbor's large boats in mind. The business’ old lift – rated for 150 tons – was limited to handling vessels with a maximum width of 32’. The new 300-ton lift can handle boats 42’ wide. That means it’s big enough to lift anything currently moored in the harbor, including larger fishing boats, tugs, ferries, yachts and schooners.

Sprague knows how important Schweiss’ ability to produce such a large door was for his own business, and he believes it could do the same for others as well.

“I think the ability to produce a bifold door of this size allows the marine industry in essentially a semi-arctic state to be able to improve the quality and efficiency and competently take care of the boats that have been made more complex by the added struggle with the vagaries of Mother Nature,” Sprague says. “It’s impossible to do an excellent job applying modern coatings to a boat without a controlled environment; weather is uncontrollable, cyclical and a many-edged sword when schedule is important.”

Not only will Portland Yacht Service be able to serve the diverse fleet in Casco Bay, but it will likely attract vessels from all over the region.

Sprague’s familiarity with Schweiss dates back to a project where a scheduling mix-up forced him to purchase a door from a different manufacturer. Despite a missed opportunity at that time, he’s been using Schweiss doors ever since. To date, Irishspan has installed nine Schweiss bifold doors on Portland Yacht Service projects.

Irishspan Industries is well known on the east coast for building projects large and small. They specialize in pre-engineered steel buildings. Fitzpatrick says he likes the doors made by Schweiss and his customers do too.

“Installation of Schweiss doors is easy and the owners have been happy with them,” he notes. “I like Schweiss doors. They are designed and engineered well and I prefer the liftstraps over cables because they are easier, safer and cleaner looking – it gives you a better feel. The straps have fewer moving parts and are less vulnerable to potential problems.”

He says he gets prompt and helpful service from the company and the doors are delivered on time and in good shape.

About Schweiss Doors

Schweiss-logoBased in Fairfax, MN, Schweiss Doors is a leading manufacturer of bifold and hydraulic one-piece doors, and is an established leader in the design and manufacture of designer and custom doors for all types and sizes of buildings. No door is too small or too big for Schweiss Doors. The company has more than three decades of experience and has sold its doors worldwide. Key markets for the company’s doors are aviation, agriculture, commercial and industrial, but its products have been used in theaters, major league ballparks, homes, exclusive hotels and buildings of all types. To learn more, visit www.bifold.com or www.schweisshydraulicdoors.com.

And to learn about Schweiss' new Build Your Own Door Kit, which gives customers the plans and essential components to build their own Schweiss Doors, visit www.bifold.com/build-your-own-door.php.

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