Saws are humming again at Pleasant River Pine on New Dam Road in Sanford, the site of the former Lavalley Lumber and sawmill.
It is hard to imagine that just two years ago, the mill, which now employs 45 full- and three part-time employees (with plans to add more), was close to being shut down.
The original mill, built by the Lavalley family in 1944, expanded to include three retail stores. In 1999, the family sold the business to United Ventures, a holding company. The focus of the new ownership was on growing the retail side of the business. With the recession and the stall of housing starts, retail sales fell dramatically, and the company filed for bankruptcy in February 2012.
In December 2012, Chris and Jason Brochu, co-presidents of Pleasant River Companies of Dover-Foxcroft, stepped up to purchase the Sanford sawmill facility along with 40 acres of land. The mill was re-named Pleasant River Pine and produces eastern white pine products exclusively.
Terry Walters, who worked for the Lavalley family for 30 years, continued to work at the mill when it changed hands in 1999, but he left in early 2012, uncertain of the operation’s outlook. He came back when Pleasant River took over. Now general manager of Pleasant River Pine, Walters has a renewed sense of hope for the future.