Britton Lumber Company News
Sterling Golder – Sales and Purchasing Manager
We are pleased to welcome Bill Morvan to our Britton Lumber team. Bill joins our wholesale division and will be our outside sales representative for Vermont, Western Massachusetts, Upstate New York and Northwestern New Hampshire. Bill brings to us 18 years of experience working for Harvey Building Products as both a branch manager and for the last 11 years as their Vermont and New Hampshire territory sales representative.
Bill joined us on November 30th and has been busy training with our product managers, learning our software systems, and observing our operations folks manage our warehouse inventories and load and receive the multitude of trucks that arrive and depart daily from our Fairlee location.
Bill resides in Northfield, Vermont with his wife Laurie of 21 years and his two children, daughter Analiese (16) and son Caleb (14). Their entire family enjoys skiing and hockey as well as showing steers at various Vermont and New Hampshire agricultural fairs each year.
We expect that Bill will be on the road soon to meet and introduce himself to our customers. Please join us in welcoming Bill to Britton Lumber.
Britton Lumber is devoting substantial resources and time toward our goal of rebuilding the saw mill which was totaled by fire on March 28th. We are working closely with an architect, engineering firm, and an experienced mill designer to evaluate all options. Multiple meetings with the State of Vermont are helping us to better understand current flood plain, storm water, and general permitting requirements. We have been visiting saw mills throughout New England and one in New York State. Tom Fulton, our mill manager, attended the annual saw mill equipment trade show that was recently held in Atlanta, Georgia. Ongoing meetings with our bankers, insurers, and State of Vermont Economic Development personnel are helping us to evaluate the economics of rebuilding our saw mill.
In the meantime, we continue to grade and sort Eastern White Pine boards, and our planer mill is producing the same high quality Britton Lumber pine boards for both our wholesale and manufacturing customers.
We have successfully sold all of our logs that were onsite at the time of the fire, and demolition of the existing saw mill commenced on May 26th. We’ve posted below some video footage of this process and we look forward to starting afresh when it is completed.
The afternoon of Thursday, June 4 was sunny and beautiful and the hum of voices washed over the yard at Britton Lumber Company. Vendors, customers and employees all mingled, shared stories, looked over merchandise and took guided tours of the facilities during our Open House. This year we decided to mix it up a bit and held the event in our Fairlee, VT wholesale yard so that our customers could get a visual of how we are set up, our products, our vendors, and our staff. All of this while enjoying a delicious BBQ that was served up to us by Maple Street Catering. A great day was had by all who attended.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – APRIL 10, 2015
CONTACT: ROBERT MOSES, PRESIDENT – 802-333-8112
Britton Lumber announced today its preference to rebuild its sawmill. Since the devastating fire on March 28th that totaled its sawmill, the Company has met with Town of Fairlee and State of Vermont representatives and have been assured that they will work closely with the Company to help rebuild and to potentially save up to 40 jobs at our Company, as well as to support the many loggers, truckers and local businesses with whom we do business.
Robert Moses said, “We are still in the early stages of our economic analysis and conversations with regulatory authorities and with our insurance carrier are ongoing, however we thought it was important today to tell our employees and the community that it was our intent to rebuild the sawmill.”
The Company estimates that it may take as long as 18 to 24 months to rebuild due to lead times on ordering highly technological sawmill equipment, designing an efficient sawmill and working closely to comply with all regulatory and insurance requirements. “There will be many hurdles and decisions for us to consider before we can definitively commit to rebuilding, however we are looking forward to the challenge and are excited about constructing a new sawmill here in Fairlee,” said Moses.
Unfortunately as a result of our devastating fire we will not be able to retain all of our employees while we contemplate next steps. Today at all employee meetings, Mr. Moses reported that one full-time position was being eliminated and that we would not be able to employ 11 other workers while we reconstruct our sawmill. We have worked closely with the Vermont Department of Labor to insure that our affected employees are aware of all programs available to them and representatives will be onsite Monday morning to assist and advise our employees. The Company is also committed to assisting and placing our employees wherever possible.
We have been successful in obtaining a regular source of Eastern White Pine boards so that our planer mill can continue to manufacture the high quality lumber that we are known for and our wholesale distribution business is unaffected from the fire. During the last two weeks, over 80 flatbed trucks of building materials, including our own manufactured pine lumber has been distributed to customers throughout Northern New England, Massachusetts and Upstate New York.
We are so grateful for the offers of help from not only friends and strangers, but also from our fellow sawmill operators here in Northern New England. The sense of community has been heartwarming and gives us strength and energy to focus on the future.
Our Company was founded in 1946. If all goes well, we hope to announce a grand opening of a new sawmill during our 70th year.
Although our week started with sadness in all-employee meetings to discuss and reflect upon our sawmill fire on Saturday night, March 28th, our dedicated team of employees rose to the challenge and we had a very productive week. In our wholesale division we shipped over 40 trucks in both our Fairlee, VT and Gray, ME facilities. The planer mill continued to manufacture Eastern White Pine board, and our orders look strong. Sawmill employees jumped in to help out on various projects and assisted on both the wholesale and planer mill operations as needed. So, despite the ongoing meetings with insurance and fire investigators throughout the week, our business continued to go on and go forward, and we are confident that it will continue to do so!
We would also like to once again take this opportunity to recognize and thank both known and unknown friends and neighbors who continued to offer us help and support. We are very appreciative.
Fire at the Britton Lumber Company
On Saturday, March 28 a four alarm fire was reported at the Britton Lumber Company sawmill. Due to the quick response of firemen from over 16 neighboring stations, the fire was contained to the sawmill but the steel, concrete and wood structure was a total loss. No one was hurt, which is the most important thing.
The sense of community and compassion which has been displayed by both friends and strangers in the hours and days after the fire has been heartwarming and gives us strength and energy to focus on the future.
Britton Lumber has served New England for nearly 70 years and while this is a setback to our manufacturing division, our warehouses, and wholesale division are unaffected by the fire. We will continue – and look forward to – supplying you with building materials.
Becky Eastman, who has worked at Britton Lumber since 1998 in many different capacities, will have a new primary role as one of our Fairlee Wholesale Operations Coordinators, with the additional responsibility of inventory control and organization. She will also continue to work as our Safety & Compliance Officer, keeping us safe here at Britton.
A new face around Britton Lumber is Catherine Rentz who will be heading up Human Resources, Marketing and a few special projects as they come up. Catherine has spent the last 14 years working for Dartmouth College in development and, more recently, with the Friends of Norris Cotton Cancer Center helping to manage many of their fundraising events including the very successful annual event The Prouty.
The new year at Britton Lumber started out with some changes in our Gray, Maine facility. James Whitten, our Operations Manager, retired at the end of 2014. When Britton acquired Jim Gillies Lumber Company at the end of 2011, Jim was already running the show and continued to do so for Britton until last December. We thank Jim for all of his hard work and dedication.
In the summer of 2013, Joel LaVallee was hired to help out in the Gray, Maine yard. He came to Britton having worked with Blue Seal Feeds and Jotul North America for a total of ten years. At these companies he had been a driver, sales clerk, and buyer and had worked on the payroll and accounts payable side as well. We are happy to announce that Joel has taken over the reins as Operations Manager of our Gray, ME facility.
In Fairlee, we also celebrated Doug Britton’s retirement on January 22nd with a company-wide celebration to thank Doug for his 41 years of service. Although Doug will continue to be a resource and holds a wealth of knowledge, that not surprisingly he is willing to share, Doug was touched by the nearly 100% employee turnout and the return of several retirees with whom he shared many years of his career. All of us at Britton thank Doug for his leadership and wish him a very long and enjoyable retirement.
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