DOVER-FOXCROFT, Maine — Three and a half decades in business as a general contractor, specializing in excavations, certified septic system installations and lot preparations, and 35 years of giving back to the community led to French Construction of Guilford being named the 2012 Piscataquis Chamber of Commerce Business of the Year.
French Construction was presented with the honor, voted on by chamber members, on June 21 at Foxcroft Academy.
“Jim has been in business for a lot of years. He has been a businessman in the town of Guilford for 35 years and I think in that time he’s touched everyone in this room either through his business or personally,” said Dwain Allen, owner/operator Jim French’s cousin, during the presentation.
“Jim started the business 35 years ago with some concrete forms and a worn-out backhoe,” he said, mentioning that growing up, French was “always building something, either a playhouse in the backyard or an A-frame on Lake Hebron.”
“I think one of the hallmarks of Business of the Year is not only what they do in their business, but also what they do in their community,” Allen said. “Jim has been a great neighbor to everybody. If somebody needs something done, Jim finds a way to do it.” He said French volunteers his time and equipment to plow churches and the Valley Grange, sands the road near his home to help allow for safe travel conditions for other drivers, hauls floats in parades and worked on putting in the ramp to the Guilford Historical Society.
Allen said that during the flood of 1987 “most of Jim’s equipment was somewhere helping people out. Jim was up to his waist in water at Prides trying to help them not lose the first floor of their building.
“It’s safe to say he’s done most of the work in Piscataquis County,” Allen said, mentioning that right on the Foxcroft Academy campus French Construction placed the sign for the school. “At times he’s hired up to 10 people and at 10 a business isn’t small anymore.”
The floor was then opened to others to speak. Scott Moulton of Rowell’s Garage in Dover-Foxcroft said he worked for French Construction, starting when he was a sophomore in high school. “I can’t think of a job where I learned more about work and life,” Moulton said. “I have been complimented about my work effort and I think half of that comes from my dad and the other half comes from Jim. He’s really a great guy.”
Jason Brochu of Pleasant River Lumber in Dover-Foxcroft said the company has worked with French Construction for a number of years, and they always are appreciative of the details French considers when they tell him of their project ideas.
“He’s always been involved in the community, you always see him kicking around in his truck,” said Heather Pomerleau of Bangor Savings Bank, the 2011 Business of the Year recipient. “It’s quite an accomplishment to be operating a business for this long in this area.”
“I have had guys who have worked with me for 25 years and I have always had great guys work with me,” French said. He said Moulton and others used to come back each year “so I had the luxury of growing up with these people, it just means a lot to me to have these good people as friends.”
French thanked those who have hired his company, instead of opting for an outfit from out of the area, saying, “If it wasn’t for those people hiring little businesses, we wouldn’t have this community. The support has been unbelievable.”