Fall Home Improvement
Ecoshel officials host open house
ASHLAND, Maine — Officials with Ecoshel held an open house Oct. 2, 2014, with a number of local and state dignitaries on hand to tour the facility.
The business, which manufactures specially-designed shingles made from western red cedar (known as the Ecoshel Cedar Smart-Shingle System), has begun production at the Ashland site (formerly the J.P. Levesque sawmill site), creating a number of much-needed jobs for the community hit hard by the economic downturn that began in 2009.
“Ecoshel will have roughly 65 per line shift, with two shifts per day. They have the potential to add shifts as product demand goes up,” said Ashland Town Manager Ralph Dwyer, in an interview prior to the presentation by company officials.
John Steel, Ecoshel’s chairman, kicked of the festivities, beginning by thanking Dwyer and others at the local and state level who “worked unbelievably hard to conquer every roadblock we faced,” making the company’s vision for a northern Maine facility a reality.
He said while many felt it “was not popular to bring manufacturing to the United States,” locating Ecoshel in Maine seemed a very logical step to take.
“We looked around and decided to bring production to Ashland. We thank all who’ve helped make a ‘made in Maine’ product and look forward to building future relationships,” said Steel.
Steel said the facility produces an “innovative product using an innovative system,” which in turn will lead to more jobs for the region.
“This will go a long way in growing jobs in the community and the state. Bryan (Kirkey, president and CEO of Ecoshel Inc., with offices in Portland) has worked so hard to bring this to fruition,” said Steel.
Kirkey praised the hard work of those who built the new facility.
“We finally got the assembly line up and running and are now in production,” said Kirkey.
Ecoshel officials worked closely with University of Maine personnel to design state-of-the-art equipment for the mill, creating a more automated method of manufacturing than was used in the past.
“This helps us create a much better product of the highest quality,” said Kirkey. These shingles can be “installed in less time, due to the work done prior during production at the mill.”
“Half the work is done before the actual installation,” said Kirkey, noting the “value added” aspect of the business. He estimated Ecoshel products run about $7 a board foot, while raw material is approximately 25 cents a board foot.
“It’s a much higher value on resources when you do something like this,” he said.
Commissioner George Gervais, of the Maine Department of Economic and Community Development, spoke on behalf of Gov. Paul LePage, whose flight was delayed due to fog.
“This is the sort of project the governor’s been working on to make Maine better,” said Gervais.
Sen. Angus King was also in attendance and welcomed Ecoshel to Maine.
“I love the value-added aspect between raw and produced. Ecoshel is based on the wood-products industry. This is wonderful for Aroostook County,” said King.
Kirkey concluded the festivities by serving as tour guide of the mill, showing how boards are cut into shingles, then connected to create shingle panels.
“The biggest market for shingles is in the Northeast, because of the rain shield they provide. Unlike other siding, our cedar shingles provide a gap that prevents moisture from building up beneath them. They allow your house to breath,” said Reed Bronson, Ecoshel’s vice president of sales.
For more information or for a link to a video that show’s how the shingles are made and installed, visit online at www.ecoshel.com.