ENR.com Engineering News-Record Award of Excellence
Peter G. Vigue Thinks Globally But Builds Locally
Major modular work helps Maine retain good-paying, skilled jobs
Visionary Peter G. Vigue, chairman of employee-owned Cianbro Corp. is creating a new economic paradigm for areas that are losing their traditional industries. The 60-year-old Maine Maritime Academy graduate is transforming the long-time heavy-civil Pittsfield, Maine-based contractor into a regional manufacturing and economic development powerhouse by investing in shipbuilding, oilrig and modular industrial process-plant construction. For him, the key is to keep ownership and employment local.
Vigue’s vision brings needed industrial projects to Maine. One is a 54-module deal with Motiva Enterprises, which is expanding its Port Arthur, Texas, oil refinery. The $7-billion project will make the refinery the largest in the U.S. That job alone will provide work for over 500 Maine tradesmen. This modular approach will help stem Maine’s loss of skilled labor due to pulp and paper mill closings. “We want to export our knowledge and skills and bring the work back to Maine,” says Vigue.
Vigue has long been concerned with preserving and creating good-paying jobs that bring workers dignity and benefits. He started as a Cianbro laborer in 1970 and became company president in 1991. Several years ago, rather than shift rising health-care costs to employees, Vigue started a proactive wellness program to cut costs by reducing risky behavior such as smoking and overeating that lead to chronic diseases such as diabetes and heart and lung problems. He also started a nationally recognized safety program.
Central to the modular manufacturing is the firm’s redevelopment of the 41-acre former Eastern Fine Paper mill site in Brewer, which includes a new barge pier and dredged channel to the Penobscot River. Project owners increasingly favor modules because they help ensure schedule and quality.
The site was slated for development as a retail/condo complex but a partnership between Cianbro and the city capitalizes on surging global industrial needs. “Much of Brewer’s identity has been associated with the paper industry,” says Stephen Bost, Brewer city manager. “Once the mill closed three years ago, hundreds of skilled workers were displaced. The Cianbro deal injects new economic vitality into our community and region by providing meaningful job opportunities for skilled workers and for a new generation of trainees.”
Vigue also is planning a privately funded $1-billion 220-mile east-west toll road in Maine to link three Canadian container ports and major provincial highways to Interstates and the U.S. market. The road also includes two intermodal facilities in north central Maine, providing needed rail and river links. Vigue’s road “has huge implications,” says a Maine DOT deputy commissioner.
A copyright story from the ENR.com Engineering News-Record by William J. Angelo