During a tough year the cream rises to the top as
family businesses save the day.
Commentary by Evan Livada
Data from Dun & Bradstreet
It’s been so crazy, I didn’t know what we were going to talk about this year. A number of companies have delisted themselves from Dun & Bradstreet because…
Because they want to run and hide! I would think a lot of the numbers aren’t out there because they’re #&%@ numbers.
What you really mean is…
Lots of businesses are simply trying to stay afloat. My general feeling is times are still pretty tough throughout the country. In Maine, I think tourism is the big story of the year. You look at the number of cruise ships coming into Portland, and it’s almost doubled from last year.
The restaurant business and tourism trade have to be happy about the weather this past summer. The deeper meaning is, tourism is back as king in the State of Maine, and thank God for that.
Who was king before that?
When you look down the list, you’ll see it’s oil, papers, autos, banks–businesses everyone needs that submerge Maine’s distinctive identity and make us Anywhere, USA. But this year, there’s a real sense that the combined tourism dollar will outpace them, and that’s great for Maine’s future.
It’s also great to see a number of family-run organizations shooting up–places that have been run by the same family for generations with pride in a great product.
Cianbro tops the list as a well-run Maine corporation. They’ve just announced a big contract for constructing electrical building modules for Vale, a mining company based in Brazil.
These family businesses do well because when the winds pick up in a storm, they care the most and have the most at stake. Take the Penley Paper Mill Co. Four generations of Penleys started the firm in 1923. In 2003, the sawmill shut down, but did that stop them? Nope. Resourcefulness was their resource. Now they’ve retooled and are targeting all the Dollar Stores throughout the country, making clothespins, toothpicks, plastic tableware.
Then there’s Atwood Lobster, a third-generation Maine lobster firm that boasts the largest shipping facility in Maine–their holding tank has 200,000 pounds of refrigerated seawater. They report selling four million pounds of lobster each year, purchasing from 70 Maine lobster boats, which is good, because the fishing industry has all but gone to New Bedford–with the exception of niche lobster market leaders like Atwood. They’ve dared to go national, selling 300,000 pounds of lobster to Red Lobster in one month this year.
I’m just loving these Maine-bred companies. The other company that struck my attention was No. 97, County Super Spuds. You’ve gotta love a name like that.
It sounds like we’re doing this interview in 1958.
Exactly. But if you just look at County Super Spuds, you’ll see it’s the McCrumb family that’s been farming there since 1886. Generation after generation of McCrumbs have run this business in Mars Hill, population 1,500. Many people think of Mars Hill today because the second largest wind farm in New England is there. But for the last 200 years, the McCrumb family has been marketing high quality potatoes. In 1992, they started their own transportation company to ship their potatoes. In 2004, they bought Penobscot Frozen Foods out of Belfast. Then they bought Sunday River Farms. It’s all McCrumbs going back 125 years. Imagine making your move over 100 years into the game. If you google “county super spuds,” you’ll see a photo with 20 people in it, and it looks like 17 are McCrumbs.
McFabulous! What about a dark horse to watch?
Lincoln Paper went from 86 last year to No. 12 this year. They make 600 square miles of tissue every year, enough to cover Baxter State Park twice.
Wouldn’t that be…vandalism? Or would it be hailed as a Christo work of public art?
[Lincoln Paper] shows $141.22 million in sales. That’s a huge move if that’s the case. They claim to be green, by the way, with over 99 percent of their pulping tissues recycled. Among many superlatives, they are the largest manufacturer of deep-dyed tissue in the United States.
Come on! Where can we see their products, then?
It’s very likely that if your airline provides a napkin with your Diet Coke, it’s going to be from Lincoln Paper.
It’s funny; between Lincoln Paper and Penley, we have the summer picnic for the world coming out of Maine. Think of it: the paper towels, plates, plastic napkins, straws, matches, toothpicks.
Tell us about Maine Bank & Trust being sold and what it means.
People’s United is the 22nd largest bank in America by deposits. It’s the largest regional bank in New England, whatever “regional bank” means.
But wasn’t Maine Bank & Trust’s raison d’être that it was locally operated for local people and
That’s the smoke people put up. Local banks for local people. It wouldn’t surprise me to see banks that are doing well, like Bangor Savings, being picked up a while down the road. There will be acquisitions.
Since so many businesses are “running and hiding,” how is the chicken industry going, say, at Barber Foods?
A company like Barber Foods that has grown and so has their niche–that’s the kind you won’t see sold. Barber is one of the first companies that developed chicken cordon bleu for your freezer case. They’re a “Mainestay.”
How about IDEXX? You’ve mentioned more than once that they are an attractive industry for purchase.
IDEXX is brilliantly run, so it would be a nice addition to a major player.
So this whole shakeout is helping Maine rediscover itself? Couldn’t you have told us this before we set foot in this scary economic Oz?
You can talk about big places like National Semiconductor until you’re blue in the face, but they’re just trying to keep up market share, so you can’t learn as much from their numbers. It’s really the small family businesses who are showing the kind of backbone we can learn from. We saw it as a trend last year, when we saw all the niche breweries doing well. It all ties in with the tourism rise: If they come here, they’ll want to drink what we make here.
1. L. L. Bean, Freeport, $1.62B *†1
2. Fairchild Semiconductor International, South Portland, $1.2B
3. IDEXX Laboratories, Westbrook, $1.03B
4. Cianbro Companies, Pittsfield, $390.3M
5. Wright Express Corporation, South Portland, $318.22M
6. Webber Oil Company, Bangor, $192.34M
7. Maine Employers’ Mutual Insurance, Portland, $176.21M
8. Olympia Sports, Westbrook, $165.81M
9. Pine State Trading, Augusta, $155.3M
10. Darling’s, Brewer, $155.03M
11. Hancock Lumber, Casco, $150.4M *†
12. Lincoln Paper & Tissue, Lincoln, $141.22M
13. Katahdin Paper Company, Millinocket, $138.77M
14.Camden National Corporation, Camden, $132.78M
15. Hutchins Motors, Augusta, $132.5M
16. C. N. Brown, South Paris, $131.3M *†
17. Bangor Savings Bank, Bangor, $131.04M
18. Associated Grocers, Gardiner, $130.25M
19. Bangor Hydro-Electric Company, Bangor, $119M
20. Village Car, Bangor, $116.2M *†
21. Barber Foods, Portland, $106.35M
22. J & S Oil, Manchester, $104M *†
22. (tie) R H Foster, Hampden, $104M *
24. Reed & Reed, Woolwich, $100M
24. (tie) GreenPages, Kittery, $100M
26. Diversified Communications, Portland, $95.4M
27. Oakhurst, Portland, $91.34M
28. Melton Sales & Service, Milford, $90M
28. (tie) Sargent Corporation, Stillwater, $90M
28. (tie) Hammond Lumber Company, Belgrade, $90M
31. Acadia Auto Group, Richmond, $87.89M
32. Creative Apparel Associates, Morrill, $86M
33. Lee Chrysler Plymouth, Westbrook, $76.2M
33. (tie) Redlon & Johnson, Portland, $76.2M *
35. First Bancorp, Damariscotta, $75.32M
36. Jerome Group, Augusta, $75.1M
37. Clark Insurance, Portland, $70M
38. White Rock Distilleries, Lewiston, $68.3M *
39. Yankee Ford, South Portland, $60.8M *†
40. Bar Harbor Bankshares, Bar Harbor, $60.4M
41. Everett J. Prescott, Gardiner, $60.3M *†
42. R. H. Reny, Newcastle, $56.58M
43. Mainetoday Media, Portland, $54.88M
44. Fabian Oil, Oakland, $54.47M
45. Charlie’s Motor Mall, Augusta, $53.1M *†
46. Johnson & Jordan, Scarborough, $52.59M
47. Maine Energy Recovery Company, Biddeford, $52.26M
48. Patriot Mortgage, Windham, $50M
49. Ford Rowe Sales, Westbrook, $48.31M
50. Norway Savings Bank, Norway, $47.95M
51. Geiger Brothers, Lewiston, $45.5M *
52. Northeast Bancorp, Lewiston, $45.3M
53. Bill Dodge Buick-Pontiac-GMC, Westbrook, $44.4M
54. Key Plaza Holdings, Winthrop, $44.1M
55. Powerpay, Portland, $44M 2
56. Stonewall Kitchen, York, $43.5M
57. Kennebunk Savings Bank, Kennebunk, $42.3M
58. Gorham Savings Bank, Gorham, $42.2M
59. Twin Rivers Paper Company LLC, Madawaska, $42M
60. Saco & Biddeford Savings, Saco, $41.7M
61. Maritime Energy, Rockland, $40.8M *
62. Androscoggin Bancorp, Lewiston, $40.62M
63. PM Construction Company, Saco, $40.39M
64. CPM Constructors, Freeport, $40M
65. Freightliner of Maine, Bangor, $39.42M
66. P A Intermed, South Portland, $39.4M *
67. Twin Rivers Paper Company Corporation, Portland, $38.1M
68. Nelson & Small, Portland, $36.2M *
69. Gage Company, Portland, $36M
70. Maine & Maritimes Corporation, Presque Isle, $35.74M
71. Patriot Insurance Company, Brunswick, $35M 3
71. (tie) Shaw Brothers Construction, Gorham, $35M
73. Nickerson & O’Day, Brewer, $34.65M
74. Kennebec Savings Bank, Augusta, $34.33M
75. Tex-Tech Industries, North Monmouth, $34.3M
76. Eastland Shoe Corporation, Freeport, $33M
76. (tie) Outsource Works, Lewiston, $33M
78. Penley Corporation, West Paris, $31.2M
79. Butler Brother’s Supply Division, Lewiston, $30.02M
80. Orthopaedic Associates of Portland, Portland, $30M
80. (tie) Atwood Lobster Company, Spruce Head, $30M
80. (tie) Port Harbor Marine, South Portland, $30M
83. Linnehan Leasing, Ellsworth, $29.73M
84. Down East Toyota BMW, Brewer, $29.6M
85. Sheri-Key, Fairfield, $29.55M
86. John Lucas Tree Expert Company, Falmouth, $29.45M
87. CCB, Westbrook, $29.14M
88. Daigle & Houghton, Fort Kent, $29M
88. (tie) Hewins Travel Consultants, Portland, $29M
90. Medical Mutual Insurance Company of Maine, Portland, $28.8M
91. Magellan Petroleum Corporation, Portland, $28.19M
92. Dearborn Precision Tubular, Fryeburg, $28M
92. (tie) Miller Drug, Bangor, $28M
94. Katahdin Trust Company, Patten, $27.09M
95. Tssd Services, Oakland, $26.83M
96. Sanford Institution For Savings, Sanford, $26.6M
97. Philip E. McPhail, Lincoln, $25M
97. (tie) County Super Spuds, Mars Hill, $25M
97. (tie) Maine Wood Treaters, Mechanic Falls, $25M
100. Nappi Distributors, Gorham, $24.7M
Key to the Numbers
Companies must be for-profit and headquartered in Maine. All numbers were obtained by Dun & Bradstreet and represent 2009 gross revenue. (Revenue figures are the most up-to-date available and self-reported. Please contact D&B, not Portland Magazine, for error corrections.)
* 2008 number used; no data for 2009 available
† Delisted their sales figures from D&B
1. Public annual report lists 2009 net revenue at $1.4B.
2. CEO Stephen Goodrich estimates 2009 gross revenues at $120-125M.
3. President Lincoln Merrill says 2009 gross revenue is $45.62M.
– Dead River Company (with branches reporting over $688M in revenue) is not listed due to incomplete revenue information.
– Marden’s (with branches reporting over $106M in revenue) is not listed due to incomplete revenue information.
– Downeast Energy is not listed due to incomplete revenue information. President John Peters estimates 2009 gross revenue