Mike Arieta steps up to the helm at Hinckley as the builder takes high-tech construction and Maine craftsmanship into the future.
PIM VAV HEMMEN MAR 14, 2019
Mike Arieta doesn’t like to sit still. Rather than talk in a conference room, he asks if we can chat while we tour the Hinckley Company’s Trenton, Maine, boatbuilding facilities. A recent snowstorm has made walking between the sheds icy and precarious, but Hinckley’s new president is undeterred. As we make our way, Arieta is reluctant to talk about himself. “I’m the son of a coach and two teachers,” he says. “It’s not about me. It’s about the boats and the people who build them.” The trade workers started at 5:30 a.m. Despite the activity, the work spaces in the metal sheds are quiet and clean. And even though epoxy is everywhere, the usual chemical smell is barely noticeable. Many of the workers are old hands. Composites Manager Barry Archilles has been with the company for 41 years, and employees with 20- plus years of service are not unusual on the line. Pride of craftsmanship is a company trademark. Hinckley was founded in 1928, and during the next 60 years developed a reputation as a builder of high-quality cruising sailboats drawn by some of America’s best naval architects: John G. Alden, Sparkman & Stephens and Bill Tripp, Jr., among them. The company’s Bermuda 40s and Sou’wester 50s are still considered some of the best production sailboats ever built. In the 1990s, the company began offering Downeaststyle, jet powered motorboats. The 1994 Bruce King-designed Picnic Boat created a whole new class of boats and made Hinckley a powerboating tour de force.
Arieta became president in November 2018, when he was a 16-year veteran of the company. He joined Hinckley in 2002 as the director of quality control. “I was in Rhode Island, and they were building a 29R,” Arieta says, smiling at the memory. “I looked at the beautiful lines, and as I ran my hand along the hull, I knew. I was in.” Soon after, he was asked to manage Hinckley’s Trenton manufacturing facility. He then served as general manager for products, and more recently spent a decade as chief operating officer.