Andy Herrington had spent more than 20 years with Christensen Shipyards when the gates closed because of financial trouble, throwing him and the other craftsmen out of their jobs. Like his co-workers, he scrounged what work he could to make ends meet. “I did a little bit of logging and tree chopping and horse training when we were off,” he says, “but mostly we just figured out how to reopen.”
That problem was resolved by Henry Luken, who purchased his first Christensen, Liquidity, in 2001 and had been part-owner of the yard since 2003. He’s now the principal yard owner and owns one of two yachts that are partly completed on site.
Two other partly finished yachts, the 164-footers Silver Lining and Chasseur, will have launched by the time you read this, having since been completed by Herrington and a lot of his former colleagues.
“The most surprising thing — and I think even Henry and the people in management were kind of taken aback too — was how many of the senior people came back,” says Jim Gilbert, who was named Christensen’s interim president in January. “We got essentially all of our shop foremen [and] essentially all of our supervisors.”
Herrington says the workers are equally thrilled to be back in business at the yard: “We have a sign outside our employee entrance that says, ‘Through this door pass the finest craftsmen in the world.’ We all believe that. When you don’t see that every day, after a while, and then you see it again for the first time, you really realize what it means. It’s who we are.”