Navigating the Cape Cod Region’s Blue Economy

Oct 1, 2020 Profiles In Blue: Jon Hagenstein

I founded Beacon Marine Construction LLC with my two partners, Chris Hagerty and Matt Bourque, in 2015. Together, we purchased the assets of an existing business that had been operating out of the greater Barnstable area for decades. Our role in the blue economy is as textbook as it gets. We work on the water. We work from boats, barges, and tugs. We are floating 365 days a year.

Based out of Mashpee/Barnstable, Beacon Marine constructs and maintains waterfront infrastructure both residentially and commercially here on Cape Cod and Southeastern Massachusetts. We perform construction of piers, seawalls, and offer a variety of other heavy equipment and waterfront services. Being a small-business owner, my partners and I wear many hats. From office work to labor in the field, we do what we need to accomplish a job and continue building our business operations. We moved back to the Cape after beginning careers in the greater Boston area. We quickly learned that young professionals returning to the Cape to live and work year-round was a rarity, and we were welcomed into the business community with open arms.

We employ local crews comprised of crane operators, skilled carpenters and welders, laborers, and everything in between. All of whom are mechanically inclined and tough enough to be working on the water year-round. Our employees and similar ones elsewhere, are the true backbone of the Blue Economy. One of our biggest challenges, like that of so many others in the region, is finding qualified help. We are extremely fortunate to have the crew that we do right now, but to expand, we need to hire. As you can see from the description above, we require a unique skill set. This takes a pool of talent that is already small and dwindles it to one that is even smaller.

Waterfront access, both public and private, is the value we are creating. We are giving a homeowner access to his beach by building a stone seawall with an embankment staircase. We are helping the boat owners at a marina access their boats on new pier or over a new bulkhead. We are giving commercial fishermen access to their livelihood with a new boat ramp and floats. This access is key for all to be able to work and play on the waterways of Cape Cod. We are just one piece of the puzzle in the creation of access. Before a project even gets to construction it needs to be designed by a coastal engineer and vetted through various permitting agencies. Products and services need to be sourced and arranged. All stages of this process are intertwined with the region’s Blue Economy.

Another challenge, unique to the Blue Economy, is public access. It is vital to our business that we have access to the water using bulkheads and boat ramps to mobilize materials and vessels. It seems that the commercial and working waterfront is consistently encroached upon by other developments and uses while new access is not being created. It is important that our community continues to consider the commercial waterfront users and their access to the water as new developments are planned.

The Cape’s marine environment is an undoubtedly unique place. We have huge tidal swings on Cape Cod Bay, extreme currents in Woods Hole, large ocean swell on the outer Cape beaches. There are salt marshes, rivers, lakes, and kettle ponds here. Adding to that dynamic landscape, we have frequent and often unnamed (until recently) weather events that are more powerful than some named hurricanes. All of which creates a shoreline that is, in short, a moving object. When permanent structures are built on or near the water they need to be constructed and maintained with the foresight to stand up to this. This is our role in the Blue Economy.