City approves reimbursement for Porvair Filtration Group

3 years ago

CARIBOU, Maine — Caribou City Council voted to approve a $14,694.75 reimbursement for Porvair Filtration Group on Jan. 11 as part of a four-year agreement that runs through October 2022. 

Porvair has several locations across the United Kingdom and United States, with headquarters in Segensworth, Hampshire, England. The business supplies filtration equipment for aerospace, nuclear, energy, process and bioscience industries, with the Caribou facility specializing in sintering — a heat treating process — that creates discs, washers, cups and tubes. Filters created in the Caribou facility ship worldwide.

The city first entered the arrangement with Porvair in 2018. According to the Nov. 20, 2018, council minutes, the city did not receive any bids on a surplused generator, and instead opted to sell it to Porvair for a dollar and reimburse the company for installation costs. In return, Porvair would agree that the generator is installed and maintained at the facility for four years, and to add three full-time employees with $12 per hour salaries each year.

If this criteria is met by the end of October for each year of the agreement, the city would reimburse the company with a quarter of the $58,779 installation costs each year for four years, or $14,694.75.

In 2019, the business demonstrated growth by going from 42 to 45 employees, but by October 2020, they were at 43 employees, partly due to hardships created by the COVID-19 pandemic. But by the middle of November 2020, the business had 49 employees, and as of January has hired an additional two — putting the current total up to 51. 

Caribou City Manager Dennis Marker explained during the Jan. 11 meeting that part of the agreement also involved Porvair using a generator that the city had available in an effort to partner with Caribou while also improving productivity. 

David Mika, the Caribou Porvair Filtration Site manager, attended the meeting via Zoom to discuss a request that the city still consider the full reimbursement for 2020.

Marker said Mika could answer any questions from councilors, and asked how they would like to respond to the request.

Councilor Mark Goughan made a motion to provide Porvair with the full payment for 2020, as the business was only off by less than a month. Councilor Doug Morrell seconded the motion, and asked if, once COVID restrictions are lifted, Mika could attend a council meeting and speak about Porvair’s progress over the years.

Mika extended an invitation to councilors to tour the facility as well.

“I’d like to hear his story,” Morrell said. “I think it would be good for all of us to hear what he’s done and when the time is right that allows him to come in and spend a few minutes with us at council and talk to us about what he’s done.”

Marker said he would work with Mika to set a date for a future discussion.

With the motion on the floor, Mika said the COVID-19 pandemic had a major impact on the business, and hurt their ability to ship products. One of their primary products right now is filters that are used in respirators for people dealing with the virus, and he said they are trying to create as many as they possibly can. 

“What I’m asking for is any kind of support,” he said. “The city of Caribou has been absolutely fantastic.”

All councilors unanimously approved the motion to reimburse Porvair, and Marker told Mika he would be in touch the following day to finalize the transaction.