In the summer of 1995, two brothers, Jake and Jerry, ventured out into a partnership business agreement to experience the challenges, the rewards, and the hard work of making a go at sawing one of the most difficult species in the north Maine woods, known as northern white cedar. It’s an unforgiving tree with many inconsistencies that needs to be processed carefully and methodically using good old reliable hand labor.
J&J Cedar Mill started out as a partnership with the two brothers as the only employees. The operation was set up on the home place where a small piece of property was handed over to them by their father to build a saw mill. Challenges were of a different sort since these two brothers grew up working with a framing hammer in one hand and a tape measure in the other. Carpentry was the family trade handed down from their father. Production, efficiency, and quality are the focus in the saw mill as well.
Within a year of operation it became apparent that there was a need for more help around the mill, which began a new phase for the company - employees. Log procurement was one of the biggest challenges for the Tessier brothers who had little to no assets, not to mention net worth. Banks don’t normally borrow against sweat equity no matter how well you talk. The company tried running a small woods operation on the side to help this problem, however, this was dissolved after one year due to the needed focus at the mill.
About that same time it was obvious there was a need for more room and a better supply of utility service, which caused J&J Cedar Mill to relocate their entire operation across town, to where it is today. This was a major undertaking that involved a complete redesign of the mill. This counted as the second sawmill that was built in the start up phase.
Over the years the company has managed to become successful despite the many unexpected down turns in the industry markets and also the disappointments that followed two fires. A fire in 2004 destroyed most of the operation and another fire in 2007 destroyed all of the operation. After two fires it was like starting all over again financially. However, the situations were considered as opportunities to improve on the design of a sawmill that would be more productive and efficient. Building four sawmills in the course of twelve years was an experience in the lessons from the university of hard knocks that won’t be parted with.
With its operation in between Aroostook county civilization and the north Maine woods, today, J&J cedar mill is a strong growing business with twelve employees serving the local logging industry and the needs of the northern white cedar lumber market. If you ever head north on route 1, for whatever reason, and you happen to stumble into a small town of 600 residents, called Bridgewater, turn off onto Bootfoot road and stop into J&J Cedar Mill, Inc. for a personal tour. You’re always welcome.