With a rise in lumber prices, Aroostook County’s largest sawmill is gearing up for an expansion and investments in efficiencies. Maibec, the St. Pamphile, Quebec-based company that acquired the former Levesque sawmill in Masardis in 2015, is riding a strong wave of high lumber prices and looking to plow some of those earnings into the facility, said mill manager Nate Whitney.
“It’s an exciting time here,” Whitney said during a tour of the facility on Feb. 7. “We’re really trying to create a mill that’s going to see the next generation of sawmillers run and hopefully keep 140-plus people employed here for a long-time.”
Owned by the Tardif family of Quebec City, the Maibec company has long had ties to the North Maine Woods as a supplier of timber for the St. Pamphile mill, located 35 miles west of Allagash. The name Maibec is a blend of the words Maine and Quebec.
The Masardis mill, originally built in the 1960s and now the largest in output in Aroostook County, produces dimensional fir and spruce lumber for East Coast wholesale markets. It’s slated for a host of modernizations that will total investments in the “several million” dollar range, Whitney said. “We have our plates full for projects in 2018, 2019 and 2020,” Whitney said. “We want to grow this mill by 50 percent over the next four or five years.”
The company already has added an automatic grader to its planer mill, which refines and smooths cut dimensional lumber. Last summer, the company built a new $1 million road of more than 11 miles connecting the mill directly to the Oxbow Gate entrance to the North Maine Woods so that larger trucks can deliver larger wood loads without using public roadways.