OAKFIELD, Maine — An increased demand for fencing products has led to a historic moment for an Oakfield-based company.
Officials with Katahdin Cedar Fence, the cedar fencing division of Katahdin Forest Products in Oakfield, announced late last week that for the first time in more than 30 years of operation, Katahdin Cedar Fence is operating two night shifts in its Oakfield mills and started the seasonal operation of its Ashland mill three weeks earlier to meet increased demand for fencing products.
The company’s other subsidiary, Katahdin Cedar Log Homes, also is based in Oakfield.
The firm also is marking some record firsts in the first quarter of 2011, including a 75 percent increase in sales over the previous year. Company officials said that the fencing manufacturer has been able to weather the poor business climate of the past three years to emerge into one of the most successful periods of the company’s history.
Brian Holyoke, vice president of Katahdin Ceder Fence, said there were several market factors on which the company capitalized, including the 2009 purchase of its Ashland mill situated on a primary north woods logging route.
When the Ashland mill restarted in April 2009, it increased Katahdin Cedar Log Homes sawmill capacity from 80,000 to 160,000 board feet of rough-sawn cedar lumber per week. The mill purchase also expanded the company’s payroll by 10 workers.
Holyoke said the new demand for product is “driving” the Katahdin Cedar Fence schedule.
“We’ve doubled the number of workers to meet higher replacement fencing orders created by severe winter weather,” he said.
He said that a more focused, regional approach to marketing also has added market share.
“Our pricing has been competitive, and we’ve instituted a unique multiple-drop ship approach so that our customers can slowly rebuild inventories as demand increases,” Holyoke explained.
David Gordon, president of Katahdin Forest Products and the son of founder Foster Gordon, who established the facility with two associates in 1973, said company officials are “ecstatic that our diversification in housing and fencing has paid off so well.”
“Purchasing the Ashland mill and reinvesting dollars into equipment was a calculated risk at the time, but it’s paid off in reducing our raw material costs and increasing productivity,” said Gordon.
Katahdin Cedar Log Homes is one of the largest log home manufacturers in the U.S. and the largest processor of northern white cedar in the world. It now employs about 80 people and manufactures about 200 homes, condominiums and camps per year, shipping them as far away as Israel, Japan and Scotland.
It also is one of a small number of wood products companies that has earned Forest Stewardship Council Chain-of-Custody certification from the Rainforest Alliance’s SmartWood program. This certification enables the mill to offer Northern White Cedar used in fencing and log homes from responsibly managed forests. The FSC certification is an essential element in meeting several green certification programs in building, including Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design.
Most log homes the company helps create are built on Katahdin Cedar’s own designs, with modifications by homeowners.
The company also produces cedar fencing, lawn and garden furniture and parts for wood playground equipment. It has gained national attention over the past few years by building a home in Wells for a Maine family that was picked by TV’s “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition” and helping country music star Eddie Montgomery build an 18,000-square-foot steakhouse restaurant in Kentucky.
For more information, visit the website: www.katahdincedarloghomes.com.
Correction: An earlier version of this story misidentified the worker in the file photo of cedar fence production at Katahdin Forest Products in Oakfield. Glenn Tarr of New Limerick, not Lloyd Brangan of Oakfield, is working at the four-sided planer. Also, the photo was taken in 2009, not Monday as indicated.