We’re very proud to be operating in Connecticut and extremely grateful for the warm welcome we’ve received from the community.
Extract below written by Michael Puffer, published in Hartford Business Journal. Read the full article here: https://www.hartfordbusiness.com/article/australian-based-defense-contractor-takes-root-by-ct-river-in-portland.
Driving down Riverview Street in Portland, Connecticut, there is little hint one is heading into the grounds of an international defense contractor.
The narrow road passes modest homes and lines of trees and brush before opening into broad parking lots occupied by trailer-anchored pleasure boats of various sizes. Beyond those are marina buildings on the 31 acres Birdon America acquired along the Connecticut River this spring.
The company is the U.S. arm of Australian-based Birdon Group. It paid roughly $5.2 million for the Riverside Marina, Yankee Boat Yard and Marina and smaller adjacent properties.
Birdon bought the marinas for the East Coast portion of its 10-year contract to refurbish most of the U.S. Coast Guard’s fleet of 47-foot-long rescue boats. The contract is worth up to $203 million.
Birdon has invested another $2 million in sundry building repairs and equipment upgrades, said Birdon America President Robert Scott. Among other things, that includes purchase of a new travel lift, due to arrive in February, that will allow the company to pluck boats — up to 85 feet in length and 120,000 pounds — out of the river.
That will help the company fulfill its Coast Guard contract. It will also allow it to expand into a broader section of the private market.
Birdon plans to spend up to $5.5 million constructing a 25,000-square-foot production building within the next two years. That’s crucial to meeting deadlines on its Coast Guard contract and sets the company up for additional future contracts.
“Ultimately, we wanted to find a place where we could invest and it would be a long-term play for us in terms of investing and being part of a community,” Scott said.
“Connecticut’s got a lot to offer,” said Anne Evans, who is working as a strategic advisor to Birdon. “These folks came to the right place for that reason between the workforce development support, the great supply chain and the innovation that goes on here. This is a state that has things up in the sky and underwater. And there’s no place else in the world that does that. So, they can make anything these guys want.”
Birdon has so far hired 37 staff to work on the Coast Guard contract in Portland, with plans to increase to 65 employees by the end of 2023, Scott said. And there could be more to come, depending on responses to additional contract bids Birdon is now pursuing.
Portland First Selectmen Ryan J. Curley said he was already impressed by ongoing property beautification, and the company’s growth plans.
“Ever since they arrived, they have been a wonderful partner with the town,” Curley said. “Every time I’ve been down there, there’s been additional changes, improvements and new employees. They are really hiring some highly-skilled positions.”
Curley said he hopes to see the company continue to grow its presence and employee rolls in Portland.