The Maine Wood Products Association (MWPA) presented the Duratherm Corporation of Vassalboro, Maine, with the 2012 Pine Tree Award. The award is presented each year to a Maine-based wood products manufacturing company that has taken innovative steps to strengthen its business.
Duratherm manufactures finely crafted custom wood windows and doors for commercial, residential and institutional buildings. The company, along with sister company York Spiral Stairs housed at the same location, employs 74 full-time people and was chosen for the Pine Tree Award because of its exemplary advances in the areas of manufacturing efficiency, waste reduction, generosity toward employees and the community, and a host of energy conservation measures including the transition to heat its facility with locally-sourced, renewable wood pellets. These and many other advancements have allowed the locally-owned company to operate and grow despite the upheaval in the housing and building markets over the last decade.
“People, planet and profit…Duratherm truly exemplifies what a company operating on the triple-bottom line philosophy is all about,” said Collin Miller, at a recent awards banquet to honor the occasion. Miller is director of wood product initiatives for the Northern Forest Center and coordinates a multi-state partnership called the Regional Wood Products Consortium that invests in and facilitates innovation in the wood products sector.
In 2012, the Consortium supported the launch of Duratherm’s LEAN initiatives which involved consulting the Maine Manufacturing Extension Partnership for specialized assistance. Over the last year, the entire staff has been trained in the Lean business philosophy and they established a Value Stream Mapping Committee that spent two and a half days surveying the floor, monitoring product flow and compiling a list of “improvement opportunities.” Among other initiatives, the committee used the results of this analysis to invest in the addition of a piece of equipment that will free-up floor space, reduce repetitive motion and improve flow of product through the plant. Duratherm estimates a one- to two-year payback on their new investment.
In addition to manufacturing improvements, Duratherm has achieved Energy Star certification for its products, and helps customers achieve LEED certification through the use of sustainably sourced wood and use of low-VOC finishes. Duratherm also covers 100% of employee health insurance, supports employees in donating time to charitable causes, and raises gardens and grass-fed beef on the 20-acre property as part of an employee wellness program. As a member of Maine Businesses for Sustainability, Duratherm is regarded as a “Sustainability Champion” for its high marks on the recently completed Sustainability Benchmarking Tool. Through this tool and other improvements in energy efficiency and conservation, Duratherm saves more than $100,000 annually and is close to becoming a carbon-neutral manufacturing facility.
“Duratherm is an outstanding example among our membership and the manufacturing sector throughout the State of Maine,” said Bob MacGregor, executive director of the MWPA. “Countless firms all over our state show their commitment to their customers, employees, communities and the environment in so many ways every day, and we are proud of what Duratherm has done over the years and proud to count them as a member of our Association.”
The award was officially presented to owner Tim Downing by Carlisle McLean, General Counsel and Senior Natural Resources Policy Adviser to Governor Paul LePage before an audience of more than 100 friends, colleagues and employees at an event held recently in Winslow. Also on hand at the event was State Senator Roger Katz, who presented Duratherm with a state flag on behalf of the Maine Legislature honoring the company for its achievement.
The Maine Wood Products Association is a partner in the Regional Wood Products Consortium, a collaboration to facilitate innovation and market access for the wood products industry in Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont and northern New York. The Regional Wood Products Consortium is a program of the Northern Forest Center, a nonprofit organization that helps communities benefit from forest-based economic and conservation initiatives.