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2 | MAINE’S PROGRESSIVE BUSINESS | BANGOR DAILY NEWS | Tuesday | January 1, 2013
139 Years: Brookings-Smith Funeral Home After a Camden entrepreneur relocated to Bangor, a community cornerstone was born The partnership seemed like a good one. Brookings was a quiet, reserved man, while Trufant was extroverted and charismatic — but Trufant reportedly lived large, eventually so large he filed for bankruptcy. When he did, the newspaper erroneously indicated that it was not Trufant but the Galen S. Pond Co. that had filed for bankruptcy. In that era, bankruptcy was a black mark on one’s reputation, but Brookings hung in there, built a solid reputation, and in 1957 changed the business name to the Brookings Funeral Home, now located at 133 Center.
The Modern Era
Left: A portrait of Abel Hunt with his signature, from the 1882 book “The History of Penobscot County.” Right: This 1884 view up Park Street at East Market Square shows the area known as “Undertakers Row” because of the many undertakers and coffin dealers there. Abel Hunt’s store, side by side with his former partner Enoch Tebbetts, can be seen. The park to the left is where Bangor’s City Hall now stands.
By David M. Fitzpatrick BDN SPECIAL SECTIONS
The Beginning: Abel Hunt
wheelbarrow. After Simon died June 20, 1865, Hunt and his brother Thomas took over the business. It was that, not the casket business, that likely connected Abel with his business partner, Spencer Mero. “He early developed an enthusiasm for progressive ideas, and, in company with another young man, took hold of a patent right, and in endeavoring to push it upon the market he gives his experience quite laconically: ‘We made some money and traveled some; but it paid more in experience than money,’” reports “History of Penobscot County” (1882). While Abel and Thomas ran their father’s business, Abel also ran Hunt & Mero’s on Mechanic Street, advertising their “patent carriagecurtain fastener” which made attaching and detaching curtains easy, and solved problems of shrinking curtains splitting or bowing. Despite their innovative device, the business apparently didn’t pan out. In December 1873, ready for a new adventure, Abel left his brother and their father’s business and moved to Bangor.
“Death is something which, in the natural course of events, must come to all sooner or later,” says a write-up in “The Leading Business Men of Bangor” (1888). “It is well to know of an establishment where every preparation is made to render the last sad duties in the most prompt and efficient manner, and so we make no apology to our readers for calling to their attention that conducted by Mr. Abel Hunt.” The story of Brookings-Smith Funeral Home, the oldest of its profession in the Bangor area, begins with Abel in Camden, Maine, where Hunt was born in 1835; after finishing his schooling at Gorham Academy, he worked at his father Simon’s harness business at Chestnut and Elm Streets, dealing in all types of sadlery supplies: blankets, whips, brushes, curry combs, trunks, valises, and more, as well as hardware and supplies for carriages. About 1860, Abel got the idea to order ready-made coffins and caskets from Cambridge, Mass. He A New City bought a small stock; he and his In 1874, he partnered with Enoch father, also reportedly the local H. Tebbetts, a casket maker in the undertaker, delivered using a business since about 1849. The part-
In an ad from the 1868 Camden directory, Hunt is shown to be in business with Spencer Mero with their patented carriage-curtain fastener. This was even as he ran his deceased father’s store with his brother. Whether business for the invention was good or not isn’t clear; what is clear is that Hunt relocated to Bangor in 1873 and went into business briefly with Enoch Tebbetts in what would be the business that today is known as Brookings-Smith Funeral Home.
nership dissolved after just two years, with Hunt buying Tebbetts out and taking a 10-year lease. “They had an agreement in regard to the business which has been the cause of a controversy in which considerable money has been spent,” HoPC reports, although there’s no further information given. It might be the buy-out; Tebbetts continued selling caskets and coffins for another 14 years. Whatever Hunt’s relationship was with Tebbetts, the two occupied adjacent storefronts in East Market Square on Park Street, in a spot called “Undertakers Row” due to the large number of casket retailers and undertakers doing business there. Hunt and Tebbetts were competitors in the sale of caskets and coffins at least through 1890, although Hunt was also a funeral director and “practical embalmer.” By 1888, Hunt had expanded to operate a funeral home in Bar Harbor. The story goes that there weren’t any funeral homes between Bangor and MDI, so he took advantage opportunity. But in Bangor, business was big. Hunt’s Bangor location was in all six floors of a building 20 feet by 50 feet, employing four assistants to fill orders for customers statewide. Hunt provided all sorts of undertaking supplies, from wooden and metallic caskets to casket handles and trimmings, for retail and wholesale. As a furnishing undertaker and practical embalmer (reportedly the first undertaker in Maine practicing arterial embalming), he would travel to the home of the deceased, bringing with him all the furnishings and embalming equipment. He’d set up curtains, transfer the deceased to his portable table, and conduct the embalming; when he was done, he’d return the deceased to the bed. Funerals were held at home; later, he’d transport the deceased to the cemetery for burial. By 1891, after Tebbetts had died, Hunt had separated his casket business, creating the Star Casket Co., of which he was president and his son was secretary and treasurer.
For the funeral home, he was now only using four floors of that building at East Market Square, but was also using five floors in the Granite Block adjoining it, plus two floors in the rear of the Central Engine House.
Changes in Ownership Hunt died in 1911, but immediately Galen S. Pond took over his business. He moved it farther up Park Street, probably because of East Market Square being destroyed in the Great Fire of 1911. From 1925 through 1930, an odd change occurred to Pond’s advertisements: In his ad as a funeral director and practical embalmer, he also advertised “Complete Auto Service” — a strange complement to his other business. Pond died in 1926, and it was through an interstate grapevine that found its new owners, Irving Trufant and Wilmot Brookings. Brookings was born in Gardiner,
Maine Nov. 14, 1897; after school there and at Kents Hill School, he served in the U.S. Navy. He worked various places after that: in the wholesale leather business, as a shipping clerk in Boston, and then the Doutee Casket Company in Boston for two years. In 1923, he moved to Houlton, Maine at the Dunn Furniture Company’s undertaking department, but the following year returned to Massachusetts to work for the Boston Burial Case Company. It was there that he met Trufant, originally from Harpswell, Maine, who had attended the Massachusetts College of Embalming and worked in the undertaking and casket businesses in Bath, Skowhegan, and Portland in Maine, and at a casket company in Webster, Mass. before working at Boston Burial Case. When word of Pond’s death came, Brookings and Trufant went quickly to Bangor and bought the business, renaming it the Galen S. Pond Co.
Meanwhile, a young student named Gary Smith, who had learned the funeral-directing and embalming trade at the New England Institute of Applied Arts and Sciences, completed courses at the University of Maine and began working for Brookings. Brookings took Smith’s work seriously, soon listing Smith as his assistant. In 1960, when Smith bought into the business, it became Brookings & Smith, and in 1962, when Smith attained sole ownership on Brookings’ retirement, it became Brookings-Smith. Funeral directing had changed with the times. In Abel Hunt’s day, everything had been done at home, but by the late 1950s it was about fifty-fifty and on the wane towards the modern norm of everything happening at funeral homes. Smith had bought into the business, and when Brookings retired, he owned the whole business, and that meant long hours for him and his wife. It was a lot of work for Smith and his wife. “We worked 60, 70, 80 hours a week and didn’t think anything of it, seven days a week,” he recalled. “For seven years, I
See BROOKINGS, Page 6
BDN PHOTO BY TERRY FARREN, WWW.FARRENPHOTOGRAPHY.COM
Gary Smith (left) joined Wilmot Brookings in the late 1950s. When Brookings retired, Smith bought the business, which he runs today with his daughter Holly Smith Fernald (center) and her husband Jim Fernald (right). Holly got into her father’s business in 1982; she married Jim, a fifth-generation funeral director from his family’s business, in 1999.
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63 Years: Saliba’s Rug Sales & Service From humble beginnings grew the iconic Bangor company with its ‘flying carpet’ logo By David M. Fitzpatrick BDN SPECIAL SECTIONS Saliba’s stands today as a symbol of a business that has endured thanks to the values of its threegeneration family ownership. What started as a rug-cleaning company in 1950 has become a nearly legendary Bangor business that today deals in all types of flooring, from rugs and carpets to ceramic, hardwood, and stone. But to understand how Saliba’s came to be, we have to go back before its founding. William Christmas first appeared in the Bangor city directory with the occupation “pedler” [sic] in 1910. William worked as such for several years, eventually advertising that he dealt in “imported laces” in 1919. By 1925, he had a store at 85 Main Street. By 1932, he’d expanded, doing embroidery, hemstitching, and stamping, and was operating out of the Coe Block. That year, Philip Christmas, apparently his son (they lived at the same address), worked for him as a clerk, and the following year they were on Columbia Street as rug dealers. Business was good, and by 1947 the company had opened a rugcleaning plant on South Main Street in Brewer to complement its rug-repair and rug-retail business in Bangor. That’s the first year Samuel Saliba appeared in the city directories.
The Flying Carpet Arrives Samuel, a young man of Lebanese heritage who had been born in Georgia and raised in Florida, first visited Maine in 1939 — a trip that was a graduation gift from his Bangor-area relatives. He visited his cousin, Josephine Christmas, who was married to Philip, and he fell in love with the state. After serving four years in the U.S. Navy, he returned to Maine, taking a job working for the Christmas Rug Company. In 1947, he was listed as the company’s
cleaning-plant foreman. Sam bought the rug-cleaning business from Philip in 1950, on the condition that he wouldn’t go into rug sales while Philip and his brother Dewey were in business together; at that time, the Christmas Rug Company was said to be the largest rug-sales store in Maine. That was fine with Sam, who found great success in the cleaning business, and in 1953 he and his wife Ruth expanded their Birch Street facility, securing bank loans for the building and a new truck by putting their personal property on the line. Sam hadn’t planned to be in that business. “As a young man, I had no interest in rugs — never in my life did I think I would be in the rug business,” Samuel told the Ellsworth American in 1979. He may have planned to be in the music business. Samuel was a drummer in two dance bands: one was Sammy Saliba and the Southernaires, and the other was The Sammy Saliba Orchestra. The Saliba’s “flying carpet” logo, which would become one of the most recognizable logos in Bangor, first appeared in an advertisement in 1957. Two years later, the company advertised as being a member of the National Institute of Rug Cleaners as well as being a Hoover dealer. In 1960, the Christmas brothers did split up, so Sam and Ruth began purchasing rolls of broadloom and wall-to-wall carpet. From there on, the business changed dramatically.
Floor Paintings and More Business grew quickly, and Sam even added a Waterville location by 1960 that lasted until 1964, but he did business in that area for some time after. Back in Bangor, he was soon out of room, so in 1962, he purchased the McLaughlin Warehouse on the Bangor Waterfront, which afforded them ample square footage. There, they began selling new and antique ori-
Above: The first ad William Christmas had for his business in 1919. Right: Saliba’s had been in business about 7 years before this 1957 ad featured what would become the company’s iconic “flying carpet” logo. At this time, the company was still on Birch Street, but would move to the old McLaughlin Warehouse on the Bangor waterfront in the early 1960s when it outgrew its space. ental rugs, which they had steered clear of for many years to avoid competing with their family at the Christmas Rug Company. But these rugs were the favorite part of Sam’s business. “I call them floor paintings,” he told the Ellsworth American in 1979. “They’re works of art.” Sam toured auctions across the Northeast to purchase well-kept antique oriental rugs for his showroom, and even worn rugs to use for repairing others. Saliba’s always changed with the times, such as when Sam began dealing in quality draperies in the 1970s (which he’d continue until the mid-1980s). One big change came in 1978, when Sam sold the cleaning part of the business — what initially started him off — to Conrad Karam. Conrad was Sam’s employee, and continued to use the well-established Saliba’s name. (Conrad sold the cleaning business, which is still downstairs in the same building, to his son-inlaw about 8 years ago. Conrad still comes by occasionally.) Sam’s son Steve literally grew up in the business. He wouldn’t stay in nursery school, so spent much time at the store. During high school, he worked there as much as 40 hours a week outside of classes.
Even before he enrolled at Husson College to pursue a business degree, Steve knew he wanted to be in the rug business. But fresh out of college in 1970, Stephen thought he knew everything. “One of us had to leave, either my father or me, because I was way too smart,” he recalled with sarcasm. “I guess you know who left.” Stephen and his new wife Marla relocated to Georgia, where they went into the commercial-carpet business. Despite his youthful naivete, Steve took with him the business principles his father had taught him: provide the best possible service, and always be fair and honest to the customer. And, like Steve had in Bangor, his sons Robert and David grew up in the family carpet store. But they wouldn’t stay in Georgia.
A Wiser Son Returns In 1985, Sam called his son, who by then had learned a lot in 15 years, to announce his retirement. Did Steve and Marla want to buy the business? They did indeed, and returned to Maine the following year. It was a good mix. Where Sam had focused on sales and cleaning, Steve’s skills with commercial installation brought a new angle to the business: While the oriental
rugs were the “fun part” of the business, as Steve told the BDN in 2000, commercial carpet paid the bills. Today, nearly two-thirds of Saliba’s work is commercial, a big change from the beginning when very little was commercial. In the early days, there were several quality flooring companies in the area, including Sears & Roebuck, which had skilled people who knew their stuff. Today, Saliba’s faces little competition in the way of quality merchandise; aside from Carpet One, most carpet dealers don’t deal in the medium- to high-end rugs and carpeting Saliba’s carries. Steve says Saliba’s stays away from cheap flooring. “We don’t delve into that,” Steve said. “We haven’t got the $5-a-yard carpet. You’re going to pay me more than that for labor, and that carpet isn’t going to last, and you’re not going to be very happy.” Instead, the company continues to focus, as it always has, on quality merchandise that will last a long time — every kind of carpet from polypropylenes and nylons to highend wools, every fiber and texture from berbers to plushes, and lots of commercial carpet. Carpet tile is big in the commercial world, as it makes renovations and repairs much easier and far less expensive.
And, of course, oriental rugs are still the store’s specialty. Saliba’s still deals in handmade oriental rugs, but the increase in quality of machine-woven orientals over the years have made the style more affordable.
A Strong Partnership Salibas’s is also an example of a strong business partnership that has endured challenges. About 15 years ago, Steve and Marla divorced, but as they’d both invested heavily in the company, they continued as business partners. They’re good friends today, and have continued to keep Saliba’s successful through constant change. While Robert now lives in Georgia and is not in the carpet business, their son David is. As a teenager, David worked many jobs away from Saliba’s: he pumped gas, made sandwiches at Bangor’s first Subway, and at age 15 was the first harbormaster when Bangor put the docks in. He separated himself from the family business to find his own identity, but at age 19 joined his parents there. That was 20 years ago. Like his father before him, David has learned all aspects of the business, from selling to installing.
See SALIBA’S, Page 6
Today, three members of the Saliba’s family run the business. Steve Saliba (left), Sam’s son, Sam Saliba works a dusting machine, also called a beater, at Saliba’s old Birch Street loca- has been involved with the business since he was a kid. His ex-wife Marla (right), who built a tion. The rug goes in upside down and the machine beats the dust out of it before cleaning. commercial-carpet business in Georgia with Steve, continues to partner in the business. Their The machine was purchased around 1959 or 1959, and it’s still in use today. son David (center) works with them, and will take over the business some day.
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4 | MAINE’S PROGRESSIVE BUSINESS | BANGOR DAILY NEWS | Tuesday | January 1, 2013
67 Years: Brooks Trap Mill What began as a sawmill is now a major trap producer for New England and Canada By David M. Fitzpatrick BDN SPECIAL SECTIONS Michael Ojala, a Finnish immigrant, settled in the Thomaston area before World War II with an eye on becoming a lawyer. Back then, no schooling was required; you only needed to apprentice under a lawyer and pass the bar exam. But the lawyer Ojala was apprenticing under, a Mr. Miles, advised that he change his name; it was difficult to pronounce (OYah-la) and Finns weren’t too favorably looked upon (this was before the Winter War between the Soviet Union and Finland in 1939, after which Finns’ reputation in the U.S. did a complete one-eighty). Since “Ojala” meant “beck,” a swiftly running brook, Michael chose the last name “Brooks.” By 1935, Michael Brooks was working as an insurance agent in Thomaston, no longer pursuing law. Then, like many Finnish immigrants, he went into a business that he was good at: working with wood. He was listed in the city directory as a farmer by 1940, but by 1942 was also listed as working in lumber. Michael got serious about lumber by 1946, when his son, Karl, returned from the war. Michael opened a small sawmill on Camden Street near the Rockland waterfront sawing lobster-trap stock, although by 1949 Michael relocated it to Beechwood Street in Thomaston, across Branch Brook from his home. Karl, who had joined the U.S. Navy at age 17 (he told them he was 18 in order to serve), had served as an electrician’s mate on a U.S. Navy destroyer in World War II. Karl had grown up with four
brothers and four sisters in a house where Finnish was the first language — which had him a bit behind until later in grade school. He’d missed school a lot when he was young to work in the sawmill, and hadn’t finished high school when he joined the Navy, so after the war he was ready to put his G.I. Bill to use. After passing a highschool equivalency test, he attended the University of Maine, earning a B.A. in business education in 1954.To pay for school, Karl took time off to scallop, build boats, and lobster, spending several years in Eastport. In 1961 he earned a master’s in psychology at UMaine; while there, he held a position as a graduate assistant instructor in the Department of Psychology. After that, Karl went on to earn a Ph.D. in psychology at the University of Florida at Gainesville 1966, with a minor in nutrition. While working on this doctorate, Karl married Sally Mabelle Gillchrest in 1963. During his education, he was named to Psi Chi, the National Honor Society in Psychology, and also was a recipient of a National Science Foundation fellowship based on his academic achievements. Thanks to his study of the etiology of the peptic ulcer, he was initiated into Sigma Xi, a fraternity based on scientific research ability and potential. He was also a member of the Phi Kappa Phi honor society.
The Next Generation When Michael Brooks died in 1964, the business was renamed Brooks Brothers, with Karl, Lawrence, Michael Jr., and Raynold working there. But the sawmill wasn’t steady; eventually, Raynold became contractor, Michael drove a truck, Lawrence went lobstering,
Left: Lawrence and Karl Brooks, sons of founder Michael Brooks (photo courtesy the Brooks family). Right: The current owners, Karl’s children, are (from left) Stephen Brooks, Julie Brooks Russo, and Mark Brooks (BDN photo by David M. Fitzpatrick). and Karl taught in Florida. But in the early 1970s, Karl began thinking about changing careers. “He said the attitude of the students changed,” Julie Brooks Russo, officer manager, recalled. “He didn’t feel like he was making as much of a difference with the students… And he’d grown up doing things with his hands working in a lumber mill, so he came back.” After a family visit to Maine in the summer of 1972, and with land prices increasing, Karl returned to Thomaston the following year to invest in land and to deal in logs and gravel with his brother Lawrence, which they named Lawrence A. Brooks, Inc. but which was commonly known as Brooks Mill. A year later, they built a larger mill with room to saw trap stock
for building lobster traps. As the real estate market tanked, the brothers concentrated more and more on pulpwood and lobster-trap stock, while the longlumber mill fell out of use. By 1980, the trap business was huge. The brothers’ interests diverged, as Karl focused on the traps and Lawrence on pulpwood and firewood, and in 1986 they separated their businesses. The 1980s had already seen the trap mill producing not just trap wood but the entire traps. Soon after, wire traps became in demand, so Karl started building those as well. Brooks Trap Mill continued sawing oak runners for its traps, and providing them for other trap manufacturers, with oak runners for the traps’ bottoms. In the late 1980s, Karl bought three railroad cars and had them installed door to door to create storage bays. These were later supplemented with box trailers. This makeshift warehouse is still in use today to store wire, twine, and other supplies, even though the complex has grown significantly.
part-time at the business when they were young, and each went fulltime after graduating from college. Today, the business has ample storage for everything it manufactures and sells — over 45,000 square feet of warehouse space and acres of outdoor storage. There’s also a retail store which grew out of requests the family heard every day from lobstermen looking for things they couldn’t find. So BTM kept adding products, and today carries everything a lobsterman needs except for the boat: rope, buoys, bait, clothing, rain gear, cleaning products, electronics, and more. “That’s the way we’ve been since the early 80s,” said Mark. “Our motto was ‘One-stop trap shop.’” Beyond the on-site growth, BTM has expanded afar. In 1987, it acquired Portland Trap on the waterfront, as well as a trap shop in Jonesboro and a store in Bath. The company assembles traps everywhere except Bath, but the cutting and manufacture happens in South Thomaston.
Innovation was always part of the company’s growth. By 1990, Brooks Trap Mill was using several custom-designed (and custombuilt) wire-cutting machines, which Karl designed, that greatly decreased trap-construction time. What was once done entirely with handheld snips was now possible with these machines, such as one which feeds entire rolls of mesh to cut to length, or one that notches smaller segments in big bundles. “These [machines] really gave us an advantage on selling kits compared to our competition — being able to cut wire so much more efficiently,” said Mark Brooks, general manager. In 1997, Brooks Trap Mill built its first new steel warehouse, and along with that came its first forklift. A second steel warehouse followed in 2001, and a third in 2003, the year Julie, Mark, and their brother Stephen took ownership of the business from their father. Karl had turned over shares of the business to his children over the years, and sold the remaining shares in 2003. The siblings had all worked
Karl Brooks died on Nov. 30, 2010, leaving the legacy that his father had created, and that he had nurtured and grown, in the capable hands of his children. Today,
BDN PHOTOS BY DAVID M. FITZPATRICK
Top: Bradford Drawbridge works one of Karl Brooks’ custom-designed machines. This one feeds and cuts rolled mesh, a far easier process than doing it with hand shears. Above: Amoreena Nottelmann works in the netting room, cutting lobster netting to size. Right: Stephen Brooks demonstrates a lobster trap to a customer.
Mark Brooks is the president, CEO, and general manager; Stephen Brooks is the vice president and retail manager who oversees the retail store and trap sales; and Julie Brooks Russo is the secretary, treasurer, and CFO. Brooks Trap Mill regularly services an area from Nova Scotia to Connecticut, with occasional sales to New York. Some aquaculture products go further south and to Louisiana, and some go worldwide; recently, BTM shipped a pallet of wire trap kits and one completed trap to a monastery in Greece. The company no longer saws logs but buys the wood runners all cut and trims to needed lengths. Although traps are made of wire, the runners can be any number of wood types, as well as plastic, cement, or steel. There are many options for lobster traps, from the runners to the ballast to even the color (which for some lobstermen is an aesthetic preference, while some believe different colors attract more lobsters). Each trap order is customized and Lobstermen frequently bring in sample traps so the mill workers know exactly what the customer wants. The company also sells kit traps — unassembled to save the lobsterman money. Used traps are
See BTM, Page 6
Cyan Magenta Yellow Black MAINE’S PROGRESSIVE BUSINESS | BANGOR DAILY NEWS | Tuesday | January 1, 2013 | 5
72 Years: Modern Screenprint From photo engraving to screenprinting, this business has changed with the times By David M. Fitzpatrick BDN SPECIAL SECTIONS It was around 1926 when Jeremiah M. McLeod came to Bangor from New Brunswick, first working as an operator for the Western Union Telegraph Co. on Hammond Street. By 1935, he was working as an advertising salesman for the J.P. Bass Co.’s Bangor Daily Commercial newspaper. When that paper folded, McLeod, by then married to Gertrude, moved to the Bangor Publishing Co. as an advertising salesman for the Bangor Daily News. At the time, making engraved plates for the presses was how custom advertisements were made, so it’s likely that was where McLeod got his exposure to the field of photo engraving. By 1942, he was in business as Modern Photo Engravers on Broad Street. He did photo engraving, half tones, line cuts, and artwork for newspapers, catalogs, and direct mail, as well producing labels, letterheads, posters, and other printed materials. “Specialists in school annual engravings,” read his first ad in the local city directory. Three years later, his ad highlighted that MPE were “Makers of printing plates,
illustrators… Satisfactorily serving Eastern and Northern Maine Printers, Publishers and users of illustrated printed advertising.” At the time, and for some time after, the Bangor Daily News was a key customer. “I know he had very close ties to the Bangor Daily News,” said Jeremiah’s grandson, Tim McLeod, who currently runs the business. “They were one of the biggest customers that he had — if not the only customer. Photo engraving was something that he did exclusively.” Jeremiah did begin doing signs in the 1950s. In 1956, the company relocated to 175 Exchange Street, where Jeremiah McLeod now advertised “commercial art and printing plates” and “silkscreen printing.” The business was on the third floor of a building at the corner of York, above another printer and the street-level Atlantic Restaurant. There was no elevator, so that meant hauling material and products up and down two flights of stairs. Jeremiah’s son, Daniel, returned from the Navy about 1956. he had served on a destroyer in the U.S. Navy, working in the office. “He was the only one, I guess, that could type,” recalled his wife, Marion, who married him that
Growth and Change Daniel went to work for his father, who died around 1962. Within a few years, voters approved urban renewal and that entire section of Exchange Street was to be razed. A building was available at 172 Garland Street, not far from Daniel and Marion’s home, one that would mean no more trips up and down lots of stairs. Daniel bought it, first adding a big addition to the back before he moved the shop there. With the move came a name change: Modern Engraving & Printing, as Daniel pulled away from photo engraving, which was declining, to expand the company’s printing services. From the time it moved to Garland Street, the business grew and changed. Over 10 years, Daniel made many other changes to the business, expanding the second floor and bringing his new wife, Marion, on board. When the business adopted a yellow, red, and white stylized “M” logo in the 1970s and adorned the business (even the windows’ shutters) with it, people often joked that it was reminiscent of the McDonald’s golden arches. Screenprinting came along dur-
Modern Screenprint moved to Garland Street as a result of urban renewal. Dan McLeod renovated and expanded the building (top left and right; photos courtesy of Modern Screenprint) several times before relocating to Hillside Drive near the Broadway Shopping Center in 1984, in what had been a warehouse. The business remains there today (left; BDN photo by David M. Fitzpatrick). ing the late 1950s, thanks to famous Maine artist Francis Hamabe. Hamabe. who was influential during the 1950s through the 1970s, was the man who first taught Daniel how to screenprint. Hamabe was a nationally known artist whose work appeared in such magazines as Down East, Maine Life and the New Yorker, and whose murals can be seen at Eastern Maine Medical Center and the University of Maine at Machias. He was well-known for his work in silkscreen, among many other forms. Silkscreen printing had taken hold as the dominant form of printing the company did in the early 1960s, and that trend continued. In 1975, Daniel changed the name to Modern Screen Print; by 1980 it was styled as Modern Screenprint. By this time, Daniel’s son Tim, grandson of the founder, was working at the business, and he recalls the changes over the years — particularly the rocky road to automation, which began with the first automatic press in 1970. “The first automatic press we got didn’t work very well,” Tim recalled. “I can’t even remember seeing it work, to tell you the truth. Several years later, my father got another press, which is very similar to the one that’s being used [today], and
PHOTOS COURTESY OF MODERN SCREENPRINT
A series of photos from 1964. Top left: Dan McLeod, son of company founder Jeremiah McLeod, shows the results of the red inking on campaign signs for Clifford G. McIntire's Senate campaign in 1964. Top right: The finished signs are stacked and drying while employee Dick Lynch shows off one of them for the camera. (Despite the quality workmanship, the signs didn't help the candidate; McIntire, who had served in the Congress as a representative since 1951, lost to Edmund Muskie by a 2to-1 margin.) Above left: Dan with a Dead River sign. Above right: Dick holds a Kirstein sign next to the drying racks.
BDN PHOTOS BY DAVID M. FITZPATRICK
Left: David Farrar (left) and Tim McLeod (right) apply paint during the screenprinting process while Leonard “Pat” Partridge assists. Note the wall, which is covered with print jobs from years past, as most of the walls in the faciity are. Center: Tim McLeod removes the finished decal, with red paint applied. Right: Tim and his wife Kathy in the lobby of Modern Screenprint, with yet more samples of their work.
that worked a lot better.” The new press was in 1974, and the following year Tim came to work there part time. After he graduated from the University of Maine in 1982, he came aboard full time.
Bigger and Better Even as Tim came onboard, the workload was rapidly increasing. In 1984, it was clear the businesses to expand once again. “It was getting busier, and then he was printing shirts along with everything else, so he needed the space,” Marion said. “And we outgrew that and we bought this building.” So in December 1984 Daniel moved the business to 69 Hillside Drive, between Bangor High School and the Broadway Shopping Center, in a former warehouse. The new location was essentially one big room, but even after Daniel added offices, you could probably still fit the entire Garland Street building inside the production area of the new location. Marion worked at the business until 1996, when Tim’s wife Kathy joined the operation. Sadly, Daniel passed away suddenly in February 1997. Although much has changed over the years, the basics of screenprinting has remained the same. “Basically it’s pushing ink through mesh,” Tim said. “That’s never
going to change.” Unlike a desktop printer, screenprinting can be done on up to halfinch-thick material — paper, cardboard, plastic, wood, metal, polyester, fabric, vinyl, you name it. And colorfast inks that are used stand up well to the elements; they don’t run or fade. And Modern Screenprint can print on everything from a single mailing label to six feet long and three feet wide. It’s also a lot cheaper to screenprint. A few pages off an inkjet printer is one thing; printing larger sizes in full color becomes cheaper for bulk orders with screenprinting. “The advantage that we have is quantity; digital usually is a smaller quantity, one or two,” he said. “If you want 300 or 400... the price per unit doesn’t go down with digital.” Today, Tim and his wife, Kathy, work with their brother-in-law, Dave Farrar, and Leonard “Pat” Partridge to continue producing quality work. In an era of Internet competition, getting the business is a challenge, but Tim says his focus isn’t cheap productions but quality jobs. “There’s always somebody that’s cheaper than you,” Tim said. “We just don’t try to compete with that. We just try to do the best that we can. A lot of people still like to deal with a local company when it comes to this type of work, which is good for us.”
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6 | MAINE’S PROGRESSIVE BUSINESS | BANGOR DAILY NEWS | Tuesday | January 1, 2013
Saliba’s Continued from Page 3 And he’s learned the importance of only carrying quality merchandise, and says he’d rather give up a potential job than to do it poorly. “We’d rather walk away, because we know it’s going to come back and haunt us a year or two down the road,” David said. “It can be the perfect installation, but if the material is garbage, you get what you pay for. We prefer not to go that route.” On trips back to Maine when he was very BDN PHOTOS BY DEBRA BELL
The Saliba’s Building
Above: BTM employees unload 152 traps in preparation for building the ninth annual Rockland Lobster Trap Tree last November. Right: The finished tree, with 480 feet of garland, 125 lobster buoys, and lights, stood 35 feet tall and weighed over 3 tons.
BTM Continued from Page 4 also available. BTM has about 50 employees, and typically doesn’t lay off during the slow season, although sometimes hours get cut back. These skilled employees are invaluable for Brooks Trap Mill’s business; despite the time-saving machinery, the job is highly manual. “You’ve got to have people doing this work,” said Mark. Since Brooks Trap Mill’s founding, some of those people have been family — three generations so far. Karl’s widow, Sally, still works there every day: in by 6:15 a.m., works until noon, then back later to close up the office. “She’s one of our best workers,” Julie said with a smile.
Congressional Recognition Brooks Trap Mill received an honorable notation in the official congressional record on July 11, 2012, when Sen. Olympia Snowe recognized the company (from page S4890): • Ms. SNOWE. Mr. President, today I wish to recognize and commend the tremendous success of Brooks Trap Mill,
a family-owned lobster trap manufacturer headquartered in Thomaston, ME. The lobster industry is iconic of my home State and the hard work, perseverance, and success of everyone at Brooks Trap Mill is emblematic of the strong tradition of entrepreneurship in Maine. As former chair and current ranking member of the Senate Small Business Committee, I have had the tremendous privilege of hearing countless small business success stories from hard-working entrepreneurs across the country. Simply put, Brooks Trap Mill is one of these extraordinary stories. Since its inception in 1946, it has grown to become an indisputable leader in the fishing industry, while consistently creating quality jobs for Mainers. As a critical supplier to the commercial lobster industry, as well as other trap fisheries, Brooks Trap Mill offers Maine fishermen a vast selection of products to haul their catch. Their extensive inventory ranges from bait, buoys, foul-weather clothing, and rope to traps for lobster, oysters, sea bass, and shrimp. Like so many small Maine businesses, Brooks Trap Mill is rooted firmly in family tradition. Founded by Michael Brooks over 60 years ago in a stock mill in Rockland, ME, Brooks Trap Mill has expanded considerably throughout the years but continues to be a family-owned
Brookings-Smith Continued from Page 2 never knew what a vacation was. Never went to the movies; in those days we didn’t have pagers and ways to get a hold of us. I’d go downtown and think, ‘I’ve got to get back, because the phone might be ringing — somebody might need us.’” The business slowly grew, with Smith buying the Harvard Clark Funeral Home in 1975 and the Joseph R. Labeau Funeral Home in Orono in 1983. In 1988, Smith added a new chapel to the Center Street location, and in September 1993 bought the former Koritzsky’s Garage next door, which had most recently been owned by the Darling family for use as a parts warehouse and motorcycle-repair garage. After much renovation, Smith eventually opened the Family Reception Center in 1992. It was expanded later to become the Family Reception & Life Tribute Center, giving families a place to gather following funerals to mourn and to celebrate the lives of their
departed loved ones. Cremations used to be done at the only crematorium in the state, in Auburn. This was due to an old statute that said a crematorium had to be in a cemetery that was at least 10 years old and at least 20 acres or larger. The law also said that crematoriums could not be operated for a profit. Still, Smith, invested $1 million to build the Pine Grove Crematorium in 2007, creating a perpetual easement on the land adjacent to the Pine Grove Cemetery to satisfy the legal requirements.
Family Business In 1982, Smith’s daughter, Holly, entered the business. In 1999, she married Jim Fernald, a fifth-generation funeral director working at his family’s business, Jordan-Fernald Funeral Home in Ellsworth. Jim later came to Brookings-Smith. “[Holly] has been a major
young, David often went on deliveries with his grandfather, but Sam passed away before David could really see the master in action. “Unfortunately, Sam left too soon,” said Marla. “But I think he’d be very proud of David.” Saliba’s carries with it a reputation that has been built on three generations of quality and care. It’s the epitome of the kind of man Sam Saliba was. “David’s a lot like his grandfather, Sam,” said his mother, Marla. “He has a big heart, he knows the business, he knows the rugs... he’ll take care of this business way into the future.”
and operated business. With three locations, the largest of which entails over 45,000 square feet of storage space, Brooks Trap Mill has accumulated one of the largest stocks of lobstering materials in the industry. Currently run by the third generation of the family, siblings Mark, Julie, and Stephen Brooks are fully involved in leading the business’ success. Under their watch, the company manufactures, sells, and distributes nearly 50,000 new lobster traps annually. Brooks Trap Mill is also dedicated to serving its community through support and participation in a variety of organizations and events including the Maine Lobstermen’s Association; the Maine Lobster Festival in Rockland, Maine; and the Festival of Lights Lobster Trap Tree. Brooks Trap Mill has earned a reputation as a devoted and hard-working fixture of the lobster fishing industry, and its community service is admirable. Through their remarkable growth, ingenuity, and dedication to its customers, the Brooks family has left an indelible mark on Maine maritime history. Brooks Trap Mill remains a tribute to the work begun 60 years ago by Michael Brooks. I thank the entire Brooks family for all of their efforts and wish them and everyone at Brooks Trap Mill success in their future endeavors. •
asset,” Smith said. “She’s done everything from the ground up, and I feel truly fortunate that she married a guy like Jim that has been committed also… I couldn’t be here and run it today without Jim and Holly.” And then there are the 12 fulltime and 18 support staff — many of whom have worked there more than 20 and 30 years — who have made it possible to serve the public so well. “It’s all about our people,” said Smith. “The success and growth of this business… is totally related to the commitment that my family has made, and more especially the people who have been associated — they’re the true reason why this company has grown.”
Saliba’s is located in a 138-year-old building that has quote a history of its own. The building, long known as the McLaughlin Warehouse, was built in 1875 by Henry McLaughlin, who was in the business of “storage and commission,” according to the city directory from 1877-78. Henry had been an agent for the Lisbon Paper Mill in 1867-68. The massive warehouse, surrounded by May, Front, and Pleasant Streets, was truly built like a tank, with hand-hewn timbers and 18-inch walls. But in the 1970s, when it was about a century old, the building was becoming unwieldy to heat. Its brick walls were very cold, and the many, many windows made it exceptionally drafty. It costs the Salibas $8,000 to heat the building during the winter of 1979 - when heating oil was about a buck a gallon. (That $8,000 would
equate to more than $25,000 in 2012, adjusted for inflation.) In 1980, Sam hired an engineer from the University of Maine and a local builder to renovate the building. The project framed in and boarded over 30 windows, sprayed a twoinch coat of urethane insulation on the entire outside of the building, and added a stucco finish to the walls. All this resulted in cutting Sam’s heating cost in half the following winter. The building was long part of a deteriorating waterfront full of dilapidated structures, but in the past 25 years, ongoing renovations have transformed the area. Saliba’s is now located in a burgeoning section of Bangor, the waterfront that has found new life — a fitting legacy for the historic warehouse and for Saliba’s.
What won’t change is the com- — they come first,” he said. “You In his time in the business, have to have a passion and a Smith has seen many changes, pany’s commitment to serving. “It’s all about serving people commitment to serve them.” and he says his business will continue to change with the time. He This Maine’s Progressive Business supplement predicts that the importance of was produced and published by the memorializing will become even stronger. “People are going to realize, more and more, the value of memorializing or celebrating the Writer and Layout: David M. Fitzpatrick life of someone that has died, Photos: David M. Fitzpatrick, Debra Bell. more than they do today,” Smith Many photos submitted by the businesses. said. “[Today] the young people Sales: Jeff Orcutt Cover Design: Sam Wood want to be involved. They want to say something, they want to bring This supplement dedicated with all integrity to J. Martin. something that’s meaningful… I Fere libenter homines id quod volunt credunt. think it’s wonderful — it’ll bring Feci quod potui, faciant meliora potentes. tears to your eyes to see how they do feel. My sense is it’s going to be If you’d like to advertise in next year’s Maine’s Progressive better than it’s ever been, because Business, contact Jeff Orcutt at (207) 990-8036 or they’re going to realize there’s email@example.com. value to doing this.”