Charles Hewett will retire as executive vice president and chief operating officer of The Jackson Laboratory on July 1. ISLANDER FILE PHOTO

JAX VP Hewett to retire in July

BAR HARBOR — The Jackson Laboratory announced last week that Charles Hewett, executive vice president and chief operating officer at the lab, would retire effective July 1.

Hewett, 68, said he would stay on as an adviser to his successor and continue as a member of the laboratory’s board of trustees.

“Chuck Hewett has been a pivotal figure in the history of JAX, establishing a strong financial and organization foundation for the institution,” Edison Liu, president of the laboratory, said in a statement. “He will always be a close friend and trusted advisor.”

Hewett said his work has involved strategizing on the business side of the lab. He joined the organization in 2004 and has overseen the launch of several research products and services, as well as the modernization and expansion of the laboratory’s facilities in Bar Harbor and in California.

Hewett grew up in Maine and attended high school in Winthrop. He holds a degree in political economy from Williams College as well as masters’ degrees and a doctoral degree from Yale University. His career has taken him abroad to companies in Norway and Ireland.

In the mid-1990s, Hewett served for three years as the chief operating officer of the executive branch of the state of Maine during Gov. Angus King’s first term. He has held chief executive posts in the international pharmaceutical industry, in electric generation and in natural resource management, and has created companies and managed start-up projects in Asia, Europe and the United States.

He worked for the Neptune Regional Transmission System, operators of a system that supplies 25 percent of Long Island’s power via an underground pipeline from New Jersey.

“I came in at a time where the lab was struggling financially and also culturally,” Hewett said. “I came because I loved working in the pharmaceutical industry and I wanted to create opportunity for Maine people.”

“Everything that’s been accomplished in the past 15 years is the result of a fabulous team effort,” he added. “We’re a very cohesive, collaborative, collegial community that is on very solid footing.”

During the financial crisis of 2008, Hewett said, the laboratory ran into headwinds. They faced a $15 million gap in the budget. Helping the organization recover from that shortfall, he said, is one of his proudest achievements.

“We ended up finding ways to cut costs and find a way to balance the budget by [asking] for advice and suggestions from the entire community,” Hewett said. “One of the very best ones we got was from a guy in our operations area, who works where we clean cages.”

That employee suggested reducing everyone’s work hours, rather than laying off frontline people, he said. That solution allowed the lab to retain workers, which allowed them to react when the market improved.

“We were the only mouse producer that had the labor to build right back,” he said. “That shaped a fabulous 10-year run for us.”

Hewett said the lab has been fortunate with the tight-knit community of towns that it serves, both on Mount Desert Island and elsewhere.

“I describe Bar Harbor as being just like a magnet,” he said, describing “Norman Rockwell-type communities that attract wholesome and hardworking people.”

Hewett said he can’t yet share many details about his next move, but indicated it would be a part-time post in the education field.

“I’m going to have another couple days to enjoy my boat, mountain bike and cross-country skis,” he said. “I’m really looking forward to having an opportunity to try and make one more contribution to our state.”

Current Vice President and Chief Financial Officer Catherine Longley will be promoted to Hewett’s positions.

Samuel Shepherd

Samuel Shepherd

Samuel Shepherd is a University of Maine graduate and a former Bar Harbor reporter for the Mount Desert Islander.
Samuel Shepherd

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