GREENVILLE, Maine — A Greenville business believes the housing industry is recovering based on the orders it’s now receiving.
After a dismal 2008 with only 25 orders, Moosehead Cedar Log Homes of Greenville, a manufacturer of northern white cedar log home kits, is seeing the building market rebound. In the past three weeks, the business has received 10 orders, along with an increase in requests for product information, according to Lucy Comber, who co-owns Moosehead Cedar Log Homes with her husband, Randy Comber.
A rebound also is being seen throughout the state by other businesses in certain segments of the economy, according to John Richardson, commissioner of the Maine Department of Economic and Community Development. “I think it is a trend in the state,” Richardson said Thursday.
Over the past 18 months, he said, companies have become much more efficient and now are coming back.
“That rebound is mixed depending upon the segment of the economy, but it’s improving and beginning to stabilize, and it’s good news,” he said. “Putting our fingers in the dike is no longer the first thing that we do each and every day.”
For Comber, the uptick in business is encouraging. “The encouragement is that our lead base is increasing, we’re getting more interest in log homes,” she said Thursday. Calls and orders are coming from New York, Vermont, North Carolina and the Moosehead Lake region, she noted.
At the height of the building boom, Comber said, the company was receiving about 85 orders a year for its log home kits and employed 25-30 people. When the market slumped, so did sales, and that prompted the company to reduce its work force to 12, she said. In 2008, the company processed only 25 orders, and it appeared that 2009 was going to be no better, she said.
Unlike larger companies that actually folded because of the economy, Randy Comber believes the key to his company’s survival was its ability to get small in a hurry.
“We were able to downsize quick but still meet customers’ demands,” he said. The company concentrated its advertising efforts in a complete redesign of its Web site and now plans to have a stronger presence in national trade magazines, home shows and other forms of advertising media.
It is these changes that will help businesses find their place in the economy, Richardson believes.
“What I am finding throughout the state is that businesses are starting to stabilize and it appears that nationally we’re out of the recession,” he said. The real question, he added, is whether it has been accomplished primarily because of stimulus money.
“I’m guardedly optimistic that the stimulus monies have primed the pump of the state’s economy and that we hope it will sustain itself moving forward,” Richardson said.
Richardson continues to worry about the unemployment level. While the state has seen a “little leveling off” in the unemployment rate — which is below the national average — he said there is still a very significant unemployment problem in the state.
“So while we’re seeing businesses beginning to stabilize and slightly improve depending upon the segment of the economy they’re in, we’re also seeing any new job creation lag behind an economy that seems to be moving out of a recession,” he said.
Job creation will come for Moosehead Cedar Log Homes as the business continues its recovery from the economic downturn. Lucy Comber said the company has every intention of recalling the employees it had to lay off. She credited the company’s employees for helping the business weather the recession.
For more information on Moosehead Cedar Log Homes, call 800-571-3296 or e-mail at email@example.com.
On the Web: www.mclh.net