Shop Talk

Maine Thread: 55 Years of Winding ’Round the World

The historic Pepperell Mill, situated along the Androscoggin River in Lewiston, Maine, is a monumental testimony to America’s bustling 19th century manufacturing era. Built in 1876, the brick behemoth first functioned as a bleachery and dye works for the city’s booming textile mills.

But after WWI, mill towns like Lewiston began to decline. Hydroelectricity replaced waterpower and businesses moved south for cheaper transportation and labor. Around the late 1950s, the city’s big mills began to close. As jobs left, so did people. And then, by the 1980s, the once-thriving New England footwear industry crashed.

But for the past 55 years, and seemingly against all odds, the old Pepperell has provided a roomy two-floor, 16,000-square-foot workspace for the resilient and creatively evolving manufacturing business, Maine Thread & Machine Company.

“You can still see the remnants of old pulleys that drove the machinery — once all water powered by the Androscoggin,” said company owner and operator, Rusty Vallee. Although he is well-versed in the history of local industry, his made-in-USA product now is sold, not just regionally, but around the world.

“OUR PRODUCT IS STRONG, AND IT’S GOING TO LAST.”— Rusty Vallee, owner-operator, Maine Thread & Machine Co.

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