SURRY – If you have wandered around the boat shops in the mid-coast area one name you will constantly hear when discussing who did the metal fabrication is Cory Esposito of Esposito’s Welding & Fabrication in Surry.
Last fall a boat modification project for Dark Harbor Boat Yard of Islesboro was underway at Dock Works in Winterport, but unfortunately the owner of Dock Works had health issues and had to discontinue his involvement. The owners of the boat asked around and made the decision to take it to Esposito’s Welding & Fabrication. The modifications were on an aluminum landing craft that came from Alaska, which they wanted to use as a yard boat. Cory added, “We essentially cut the floor out, cut the sides, changed the angle of the floor and did some repair work where there were issues. The sides essentially were the same angle all we did was put in all new framing. Then we put in those fairing plates, that is what those angled plates are, and the gussets on them. Then we put new sides on and basically the sides were kind of a duplicate of what they had. Then they came up with the idea that they wanted to widen it. The original plan was to just widen the cargo deck, but then one of the owners said for docking reasons and what not why don’t we widen the back of it? We bent some pieces and just fit them in. We put some stiffeners in so if they bang it against the dock it has added support. This increased the width the whole length of the boat. The biggest project was getting the old stuff out and repairing the places that were pitted, corroded or cracked.”
Cory explained, “This boat originally started out as a salmon boat and then somebody turned it into a landing craft. I will be honest with you; I don’t know if it was ever used because there was still mig smoke on the welds on the ramp and if anybody had driven anything up over it that would be gone. I guess they sea trailed it and they were a little concerned about the way it handled and they didn’t know if it would take the weight they wanted to put on her, so that was when they got a hold of a designer and he did some calculations. We got over a 100 pounds of mig wire in it and 20 pounds of tig wire, and countless sheets of aluminum.”
In March she moved out of Esposito’s shop and went over to Belmont Boat Works in Belmont where they hooked up the systems and got the boat ready to launch. Within a couple of weeks, she was ready and over she went to Dark Harbor Boat Yard and performed just as they had hoped.
When asked what they do at Esposito’s Welding & Fabrication, Cory said, “We do everything. The majority of what comes to the door is boatbuilding stuff. We do a lot of work with Stewart (S. W. Boatworks), H & H Marine, I do work with John Brackett, I do work with Peter Kass, we even go as far as General Marine. We work with a lot of fishermen, where I am so close to Stonington and MDI.
“Right now, there is still a lot of new building stuff going on,” continued Cory. “We actually have a huge tuna tower, anodized tuna tower to do for Steve (Wesmac) across the road for a Super 46 they are building. We did the struts for that twin engine 50 that he is doing. We do a lot of aluminum fuel tanks for boats, pretty much anything that goes on a boat, we dabble with. The bulk of it has been commercial fishing in the last few years, but I am starting to see a shift to more pleasure boats. I think that is probably just because so many boats have been built, most guys have got a newer one now.”
Cory is also spreading out so he is not so dependent on the marine industry, just in case it goes south. He explained, “I used to do propellers, but my shoulder gave out so I sold my machine to Nautilus and when I did that, I bought this spray and bed liner, because lobstermen are always trying to protect their investment and I thought, well, it is something that isn’t necessarily boat related, because boat building, you know, is up and down so I was trying to diversify a little bit. That kind of comes in spurts, you’ll do six or seven truck beds and then you might not do any for a month or two. We just did a custom railing down in Stonington, which goes right out on the waterfront. We are getting so we are doing more household railings projects. Like I said, it’s all just kind of what comes through the door.”
Cory started out at Thorson’s Machine Shop back, which was on North Main Street where Downeast Graphics is today. He added, “There was a place called L. S. Thorson Corporation. I started there in high school. I was a janitor because I couldn’t work in the shop until I was 18, but I would stay at night and grab scrap metal out of the scrap barrels and I would practice welding. I started there right out of high school, but I was in the National Guard, so I had a commitment to go do my training and when I got back, I went right to work at Thorson’s. After working there, a short period they gave me an opportunity to work in the welding room and they sent me to a night course at EMVTI for tig welding. We did a lot of sub-contract stuff for Government contractors, Honeywell, Raytheon…we were doing little dash consoles for the Apache helicopters. We did a lot of stuff for a company called Dielectric, down in Raymond. We did these aluminum cabinets and what not for them. It was a machine shop and we had press brakes and punch, the whole shebang. That is where I got my start. Things died off and they just closed the doors and sold everything. I did a short stint as Ashmore Brothers, doing front ends, but I wanted to get back into welding and I went to work for Win Ellis, down at the old chicken barn in West Tremont at Nautilus. That was ’89 and I worked there until like ’92 and then I went to Hinckley’s and I left there in ’99.
At Hinckley’s Cory did some welding and then they trained him to do refrigeration and air conditioning. He tried to move up and applied for several positions but was told that they could not promote him because he was too good at what he was doing. Cory added, “That was right around the time when Mark Dickinson decided to sell Waterline. When he sold, I went and ran Waterline for Machine Works. I was there three years, but I saw the writing on the wall, they weren’t paying the bills. Then, I had an opportunity to go do my own thing, so I put up a 30 x 40 metal building at my house. I started nights and weekends and by 2002 I was too busy to go to work anymore. I moved into this section of this building in 2004. Ken Dugas the former owner, because Waterline used to be here, said ‘you ought to think about renting this.’ I said, ‘I can’t afford that.’ He said, ‘you will be surprised being up on the main drag, etc.’ and he actually gave me six months’ rent free to try it. He said, ‘I guarantee you, it will be worth it’ and he was right. Three or four years ago I bought the building off him. I finally took the plunge, which is a good thing because I would not have been able to do that job for Dark Harbor, had I not had the whole building.”
Being diverse is always a good business move as it allows you to survive when the economy drops. It does not matter what you need welded Esposito’s Welding & Fabrication of Surry, right across the road from Wesmac, can handle anything you want. It can be something for your boat, the frame of your car or truck or a railing on the deck of your house, they can do it.