In 1883, Frank and Otis Robbins opened a mill on Maine’s St. George River. More than 130 years later, the Robbins family still operates a sawmill near that site. The white pine mill, which saws 29 MMBF, employs 110 people in a rural area of coastal Maine.
For well over a century, members of the Robbins family have adapted to changing market conditions and captured opportunities. From increased capacity to kilns to value-added manufacturing, each generation has made the mill stronger and more diverse. Today, three Robbins siblings – James, Alden, and Catherine – continue to add to what previous generations have built.
Maine, like all of New England has seen a large loss in markets over the past several years. About 4 million tons of market has disappeared, and the hardest hit has been outlets for softwood chips. For pine sawmills that produce chips by the truckload, this is a big deal and a serious long-term threat. To Robbins Lumber…an opportunity.
Robbins Lumber is now building an 8.5 MW wood-fired power plant, which will not only send electricity to the regional grid but will also provide steam to run the mill’s kilns and allow for expanded industrial use at the site. Now under construction, the power plant will provide both an outlet for mill residues and a market for local loggers that harvest low-grade material during forestry operations. Their investment in biomass energy will not only help the mill succeed but will also support the entire forest industry supply chain upon which they rely.
A new 8.5 MW biomass plant, now under construction at Robbins Lumber, will provide an outlet for mill residue and a market for chips from local loggers.
When asked about the Forest Resources Association, Jim Robbins noted that the organization is the spot where he can find the entire supply chain represented in one place. “FRA events are a great opportunity to make connections throughout the wood products industry,” said Jim Robbins, president of Robbins Lumber. “I enjoy going to the monthly Forest Forums and learning what other people are doing. If you’re going to be successful in this business, you need to be a member, and you need to participate in the meetings.”
With over a century of success behind it, Robbins Lumber Company knows how important it is to constantly evolve and invest in the business to sustain success. That investment can take many forms – from the millions spent on a new biomass energy facility to the time spent building relationships at FRA events.