ME: Ecoshel to Occupy former Sawmill, Create 78 Jobs in Ashland

12 Jun, 2013

At an event at the former Levesque Sawmill, Department of Economic and Community Development Commissioner George Gervais and Ecoshel CEO Bryan Kirkey detailed the company’s plans to create 78 new jobs at a patented cedar-shingle manufacturing facility in Ashland.

Occupying and possibly expanding on the Levesque Sawmill, Ecoshel’s long-range plans include the operation of up to 10 production lines, which could boost employment to 300 people. At the start of operation with a single production line, an estimated 150 additional indirect jobs will be created.

“In the brief time it took to see your project become a reality, your commitment to Ashland has been unwavering,” said Governor Paul R. LePage in a letter read by Commissioner Gervais. “Not only will you bring much needed and welcomed jobs to Ashland, your product line will create hundreds more indirect jobs that will have a great economic impact on communities across Aroostook Count and the State of Maine.”

Over the last two years, Ecoshel has been in beta production of their Smart-Shingle System, premium cedar shingle panels for roofing and siding, at a facility in Gainesville, Ga. The company decided to build its permanent manufacturing facility in Maine to be closer an abundant source of northern white cedar and its proximity to the nation’s largest cedar shingle markets in New England, according Ecoshel CEO Kirkey.

"When we made the decision to set up an advanced manufacturing system in Maine, I contacted Commissioner Gervais and Rosaire Pelletier of the Maine DECD to see if they could help,” said Kirkey. “I'm very thankful for how hard they have worked to make this possible, and for all of the well-run, well-designed programs that businesses need to grow and create jobs, especially in this economy."

Ecoshel approached the Maine Department of Economic and Community Development in December 2012. Since then and with the assistance of the Town of Ashland, DECD facilitated the location of Ecoshel to Maine by expediting a Maine Rural Development Authority loan for the company; connected Ecoshel with the Maine Technology Institute, Community Development Block Grant program, and Finance Authority of Maine; assisted with site selection; and connected Ecoshel with suppliers of raw materials.

“It has taken my team led by the dedication and commitment of Rosaire Pelletier in conjunction with Ashland Town Manager Ralph Dwyer and exceptional staff at the Ashland Town Office just six short months to make this project a reality,” said Commissioner Gervais. “Ecoshel’s President and CEO Bryan Kirkey has made a commitment to this state by literally trucking his production equipment to this site over the last week. Once set up, Ecoshel will be well situated to tap into the shingle siding demand that is the greatest right here in New England.”

All the resources Ecoshel needs to be productive and competitive can be found right here in Maine. From a hard-working and dedicated base of workers to an abundance or northern white cedar to make the shingles, Maine has again proven itself capable of competing on a national level.

“The Ashland area has experienced numerous mill closings over the past several years resulting in the loss of over two hundred direct jobs,” said Ashland Town Manager Ralph Dwyer. “Ecoshel will be a welcomed addition to Ashland and a boon to the local economy. The Town of Ashland is looking forward to working with Ecoshel.”

In addition to processing northern white cedar, Ecoshel will import western red cedar from the Pacific Northwest.