BREWER, Maine — Cianbro leaders ended their birthday tour of the company’s East Coast operations at the Eastern Manufacturing Facility on Thursday and served up steak and potatoes to about 600 team members as part of the celebration.
The Pittsfield-based construction company, which is known globally, is celebrating 60 years in existence.
Cianbro Chairman and CEO Peter Vigue placed himself between where the men and woman finished the food line with their loaded plates and where they sat during the catered luncheon to shake their hands, calling many by their first names.
“I’ve been here longer than anybody in this whole group and I know most of them,” he said, as the last of the 550 or so workers sat down for lunch under a huge white tent set up for the celebration. Another 50 workers, who work the night shift, were fed dinner later in the day.
Vigue took his first job with Cianbro as a laborer in 1970. He said he has watched many in the company, including himself, grow over the years.
“I take tremendous pride in their accomplishments,” he said. “As the company grows, they grow. It’s a simple formula” that works.
Senior Vice President Mac Cianchette told the story of how four Cianchette brothers — Kenneth, Ival, Carl and Alton — started the company six decades ago after returning home from World War II.
“Ken was a really good poker player” and had sent home $5,000 in game earnings during the war, which Carl borrowed in 1946 to start the company, he said, drawing a laugh from the crowd.
By 1949, Carl, Ival, who is nicknamed “Bud,” and Ken incorporated the company. Two years later, Alton, who was nicknamed “Chuck,” jumped on board, and the rest is history.
“Over time, Cianbro built a culture” based on integrity, respect, ensuring safety and giving employees true ownership, Mac Cianchette said. “Together as a team we create success … [that] will ensure success for the next 60 years.”
The company’s long history didn’t come without sacrifice, Cianbro President Andi Vigue told employees.
“They put up their homes several times … to make payroll,” he said of the Cianchette brothers. “This company is around because of the sacrifices of everybody who works here. That is the secret of our success.”
While the national and state economies are still bleak, “I can tell you things are better today than eight months ago,” Andi Vigue said. He added later, “I believe the future is bright.”
The Eastern Manufacturing Facility is building modules for a $7 billion expansion at the Motiva Port Arthur Refinery in Texas. During the celebration, Joel Wolfe, Motiva project manager, and Robert Eschenburg, JV construction manager, thanked the workers for their quality work. Four sites in North America are building modules for the refinery expansion, and the ones made in Brewer have the highest quality, several officials said.
“We want you guys to know we appreciate it and we’re proud of you,” Wolfe said.
“We can’t thank you enough for trusting our people and giving us the opportunity,” Peter Vigue said. With quality employees, like those at Cianbro, “This state can compete with anybody in the world,” he said later. “It’s all about the people.”
During the celebration, recent awards were announced, and six people — Stanley Webster, David Saucier, Dan Orcutt, Nick Bell, Gary Gagnon and Butch Rackliff — were given watches for 25 years of service.