GREENWOOD (AP) — Many people gave the Saunders Brothers manufacturing plant up for dead when it closed its doors and went to auction last spring, a victim of the sour economy and cheap imports flooding in from overseas.
Less than five months later, machines are humming and the smell of sawdust is in the air again as a skeleton crew puts out rolling pins, brush handles, dowels and other wood products.
Maine’s wood products industry has been on the slide for years. Numerous plants that made hundreds of everyday things — toothpicks, tongue depressors, Popsicle sticks, pepper mills, checkers pieces, clothespins, you name it — have gone out of business.
Now, a Portland woman and her partners have bought not only the shuttered Saunders Brothers factory, but three other plants as well in hardscrabble areas of interior Maine. Louise Jonaitis says she intends to bring the plants back to life in regions where times are tough and jobs are scarce.
“I grew up knowing a mill of any size was the life of a community in Maine,” said Jonaitis, 49, whose father worked in a paper mill when she was growing up in Rumford. “What I’ve been seeing as plants close is the decline of the social fabric in Maine. And I thought, ‘What else do we have?’”
Click for the rest of the story by Associated Press Writer Clarke Cainfield found in the Lewiston Sun Journal.
Posted in Economy, Environment, Maine, Outdoors
Tagged Fryeburg, Greenwood, Louise Jonaitis, Maine, manufacturing plan, mills, Moosehead Furniture, Rumford, Saunders Brothers, wood products industry, Wood Products Manufacturers Association
RUMFORD — By the end of the week, all hourly employees who were laid off during 2009 who want to return to their jobs will be back to work at NewPage Corp. And by mid-February, the No. 10 paper machine will be up and running.
Janet Hall, spokeswoman for the mill, declined to reveal the number of employees who are affected.
In January, the mill announced that about 100 hourly employees would lose their jobs due to poor market conditions. That number was never reached, however.
Matt Bean, president of Local 900, estimated that about 100 men and women would be back on the job by Friday.
Most of the returning employees will work on the No. 10 paper machine, which has been down since September, or in supporting positions for the machine. These include such jobs as work in the finishing room and the rewinder.
With the No. 10 machine coming back online 24 hours a day, seven days a week, the local mill’s three paper machines will be operating full time.
Hall declined to speculate on whether the moves are an indication of an improving economy.
Click on the link to read the rest of today’s story by Eileen M. Adams in the Lewiston Sun Journal.