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.