By ROGER AMSDEN, LACONIA DAILY SUN
GILFORD — Kevin Buttermore, who purchased Hi Gloss Boat Restoration three years ago, says that he became fascinated with wooden boats when he was worked a paper boy delivering newspaper to the business when it was located on Gold Street in Lakeport in the early 1990s.
"I'd go in and talk to the owner, Scott Hayes, for hours and I got around to asking him for a job when I was 13 or 14 years old," said Buttermore, who worked there several years while in high school and was featured in a newspaper article in 1995 about a boat that he personally restored.
After graduating from Laconia High School in 1999, he worked in a number of retail jobs and was handling mortgages in 2007 when the company he worked for went under.
"My wife and I were looking at moving back to South Carolina when I stopped in to see Scott about doing some work for him. He hired me as a temporary worker, and after that I never looked back. I was working with my hands and it was the most satisfying job I ever had," said Buttermore.
He said Hayes was an excellent teacher who taught him all the finer points of wooden boat restoration.
"I never went to school for this. Scott was my school and I'm thankful for that. He taught me everything he knew and gave me the confidence to take over the business when he decided to sell it. I've got two excellent craftsmen working with me and we're so busy that I'm thinking about setting up an intern program to teach young people boat restoration skills so I can pass on what I've learned," said Buttermore.
Currently he's working on several projects, including restoring an updating a 1938 Chris Craft utility boat , 21-and-a-half feet long, which was kept in storage in South Carolina for over 20 years and was in very poor condition when the owner decided she wanted it restored.
"We trailered it up here, and one of the first things we found out was that the engine needed to be replaced. It's a full restoration from the bottom up and we've been working on it since last July. It's got a brand new bottom and deck and the bridge and seats had to be replaced," he said.
The boat will get a modern Chevy V-6 4.3-liter engine which produces 225 horsepower as its new power plant.
Buttermore said his one of his workers, Evyn Georgiev, is originally from Bulgaria and worked in Spain before coming to the United States. "He's a talented carpenter and even makes guitars."
He said Mark Conway, another worker, had nine years of experience when he hired him, and is an excellent carpenter and mechanic.
"We do everything here except the upholstery," he said.
Two of the boats he's working on will be appearing in this summer's New England Antique and Classic Boat Show, which will be moving from Meredith to Wolfeboro this year, and will take place July 23.
One is a 1930s Chris Craft triple cockpit runabout which was modified in the 1980s to become a gentleman's racer. "We're restoring it and upgrading it to make it a more comfortable boat," he said.
Another boat headed to the show will be a Canadian-built wooden 24-foot Shepherd runabout, which is getting a whole new custom interior and a touch screen navigation system.
"It will have the best of both worlds, classic wood elegance and modern technology," said Buttermore.
Another project is a 1987 26-foot triple-cockpit Hacker Craft, which required major work on its keel and bottom.
"One of the most difficult things is pricing the restoration. You never know what you're going to get into until you start taking the boat apart. Sometimes you find a lot more rot than is visible and need to replace a lot more than you expected," he said.
Kevin Buttermore, foreground, owner of Hi Gloss Boat Restoration of Gilford, and his employees Evyn Georgiev, left, and Mark Conway, right, stand next to a 1938 Chris Craft utility boat they are restoring for a South Carolina owner. (Roger Amsden photo for the Laconia Daily Sun)
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