Media Archive

O&R Lumbra celebrates 50 years

Article from The Piscataquis Observer, Vol. 164, No. 47, November 20, 2002

By Ben Bragdon
Staff Writer

Employees at 0 & R Lumbra Inc. celebrated the lumber mill's 50th birthday Friday with cake and ice cream at their offices on the River Road in Milo.

Father and son partners Oscar and Reuben Lumbra started the original mill in 1952 in Enosburg Falls, Vt. Eight years later, Oscar and Reuben brought the family business to Milo to take better advantage of this area's hardwood logs.

The first Milo mill burned down in 1962,prompting the move to the River Road location where for the last 40 years O & R Lumbra and its 30-plus employees have provided hardwood lumber to furniture, flooring, and pallet manufacturers up and down the East Coast, and into Quebec and New Brunswick.

The sawmill started as a family business and continues in that tradition today. Reuben himself is still very active in the day-to-day operations of the mill, and he gets plenty of help from daughter Lynn Ricker, sons Benny and Stephen Lumbra, and nephew, Rod Rublee.

Ricker, now the Corporate Treasurer and Office Manager at 0 & R Lumbra but once a kid using the mill's property as her playground, remembers growing up around the family business.

It was a lot of fun back then, when they still had sawdust piles," she says with a laugh. "When we went to the
mill, we never came home without sawdust in our shoes. That was the first thing we did as kids. We'd ask, 'Is it OK if we climb the sawdust pile today?"'

A lot has changed since then, Ricker says. The sawmill currently in use became operational in 1996, and technological advances have made the manufacturing process faster and more efficient. Computers now do much of the work previously performed by hand. A new system uses computer optimizing and scanning equipment to recover more lumber from each log, and the piles of paperwork once kept by the workers in the mill is now all done by hand-held computers.

An effort is constantly being made at 0 & R Lumbra to improve and modernize the facility. The old and inefficient sawmill was dismantled and sold when the current facility was put in place, and since then a dry kiln, which adds value to the lumber, and a cut-up shop, which allows for better utilization of low-grade lumber, have been added to the mill's operations.

Ricker says the company has been fortunate that changes in the industry have helped guard 0 & R during downturns in the economy.

"There are constant new developments for utilization of our products," she says.

0 & R Lumbra processes up to seven million feet of hardwood lumber every year from Maine Native hardwoods such as Hard Maple, Soft Maple, Yellow Birch, and Ash. Lumber is sold "green", kiln-dried, or air-dried. Waste products, like pulp chips, bark and sawdust are marketed to area paper and biomass companies, as well as to farmers.

The company is one of the largest property taxpayers in the Town of Milo, and 0 & R has established a scholarship at Penquis Valley High School in Milo to benefit employee's children or local children whose parent's work in the forest or wood products industry.

NOTE - This article reflects the views of the author and not necessarily those of the TRC Alliance Team.