HANCOCK, Maine — A 100-acre lumber mill property here that was put up for sale at a foreclosure auction last month is being purchased by a Dover-Foxcroft company that hopes to eventually create up to 40 jobs at the site.
Crobb Box Co., located in Hancock, ran into financial troubles earlier this year after nearly 70 years in business, most recently specializing in eastern white pine lumber products. Machias Savings Bank purchased the property last month after a foreclosure sale failed to attract any satisfactory bids.
But on Sept. 27, Pleasant River Lumber based in Dover-Foxcroft is expected to purchase the roughly 100-acre Crobb Box property and buildings, including a large sawmill added less than five years ago.
Jason Brochu, vice president of Pleasant River Lumber, said the deal is on track to close on Tuesday, although he declined to provide a sale price before all of the paperwork is complete
Pleasant River Lumber employs about 90 people at the company’s two current facilities in Dover-Foxcroft and West Enfield. Brochu said the company’s Dover-Foxcroft plant produces framing materials for new construction from spruce while the West Enfield facility does planing.
Adding Crobb Box’s pine lumber property will help diversify Pleasant River Lumber, he said.
“We have been looking for opportunities and for chances to expand and to diversify,” Brochu said. Initially, Pleasant River Lumber plans to hire about 15 people at the site. But Brochu said that once the facility is fully operational, there should be 35 to 40 people on site.
Crobb Box Co. was launched at the height of World War II and initially produced heavy-weight boxes for shipping vehicle parts and military supplies overseas. It also produced boxes for local blueberry growers. The name “Crobb” was derived from the first letters of the last names of the men who created the company.
Things appeared to be looking up when, in 2007, Crobb Box built a 28,000-square-foot sawmill. The following year, the company won the Jeffrey H. Butland Family-Owned Small Business of the Year award from the U.S. Small Business Administration.
A representative from Crobb Box could not be reached for comment on the pending sale on Monday. Several phone numbers for the company had been disconnected. But the prolonged recession and new construction slump has taken a toll on lumber companies and mills across Maine and the nation.
Brochu acknowledged that expanding at this time carries risks, given the economic turmoil. The company will also have to replace an oil-fired boiler used to dry wood with a wood-fired boiler in order to lower operating costs, he said.
“But we have got our experience to fall back on,” he said. “We look forward and see good markets coming again at some point.”
The Crobb Box facility is located on Washington Junction Road, next to the western trail head of the Down East Sunrise Trail. Brochu said no decision has been made about the facility’s name under new ownership.
BDN staff writer Bill Trotter contributed to this report.