May 23, 2011

ALCOM a leader in trailers

By Scott Monroe
Staff Writer

WINSLOW -- Tough economy? What tough economy?

click image to enlarge

WORKING: More than 100 workers make trailers at the ALCOM Inc. production facility in Winslow. The company manufactures custom aluminum trailers.

Staff photo by Michael G. Seamans

That might as well be the tag line of ALCOM Inc., a manufacturer of custom aluminum trailers for recreational use that carry everything from snowmobiles and motorcycles to cars and camping suppliers. The local firm has seen its business rapidly balloon even amid the worst recession in a generation.

Now, two years after moving from Waterville into a larger industrial building in Winslow, ALCOM is planning yet another expansion and a near-doubling of its workforce. It has 106 employees and plans to add another 80 jobs this summer when it increases its trailer production by 40 percent.

The Winslow Town Council will be asked at its next meeting to allow ALCOM to use adjacent property in the industrial park to satisfy state environmental requirements for the expansion. The project involves expanding the parking lot by three acres for trailer storage.

That extra space is needed because the company is ramping up its production and has already maxed out storage space in its 70,000-square-foot building, which was completed last year, said Trapper Clark, president of ALCOM.

"We're looking at adding a second shift in the next couple of months and that adds 80 more people immediately," Clark said. "Storage is the biggest issue."

ALCOM's ascension has been swift. The Aluminum Company of Maine started in 2006 in Waterville with a core group of 20 employees, including founders Tom Sturtevant and Clark. Its annual sales topped $2 million during that first year, when it purchased High Country Trailers and expanded its product line to include cargo and snow trailers.

By the fall of 2009, ALCOM had about 65 employees at a 47,000-square-foot rented industrial building off West River Road in Waterville. In mid-August that year, Karen Mills, administrator of the U.S. Small Business Administration, toured the facility and declared it "real manufacturing" with a market niche and potential to grow.

And grow it did. Enticed by a local tax break, a $1.14 million loan from the Small Business Administration and potential for a larger facility, ALCOM soon moved into its present location at a new 70,000-square-foot building in the Winslow industrial park off Millennium Drive and Augusta Road. The project cost nearly $3 million.

Last year, Sturtevant and Clark received the Maine Small Business Person of the Year award, and they were greeted by President Barack Obama and Mills in the Rose Garden of the White House.

The company continued to expand its product lines of trailers and sell them across the country and in Canada, while its revenues saw double-digit increases year after year. Its revenues totaled $20 million in 2010, and the company is forecasting revenues topping $25 million this year.

ALCOM has added 48 jobs since moving into the new building in Winslow.

Now, in order to boost its trailer production, ALCOM aims to expand its trailer parking area by three acres, some of which is on what's considered wetlands. Under rules from the Maine Department of Environmental Protection, the company must set aside eight acres of land for conservation for every acre of wetlands that's displaced.

Elliot Thayer, ALCOM's project engineer, told the Town Council recently that the company needs another four acres of land to satisfy the state requirement of conserving land.

Town Manager Michael Heavener is recommending such an area for ALCOM's use, of which some would be wetlands and the remaining portion could become a picnic area for company cookouts and outings. Heavener also recommended the town grant ALCOM a drainage easement for a pond.

Thayer said several approvals are needed for the expansion, including from the Maine Department of Environmental Protection and the Army Corps of Engineers.

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