Brewer News

Workers celebrated at Cianbro opening

“It is All about the People”

8.16.2008 – A long line of Cianbro employees, all wearing blue Cianbro shirts and white hard hats, stood in the sun Friday listening to a string of speakers tell them that they are the reason the new Eastern Manufacturing Facility already is a success.

The employees stood in front of the administration building while several hundred people sat in folding chairs under a large white tent during the facility’s grand opening ceremony.

“It’s all about the people,” said Peter Vigue, Cianbro president and CEO.

Vigue led a list of speakers that included Gov. John Baldacci; Sen. Susan Collins; Rep. Michael Michaud; Gail Kelly, community leader and state director for Sen. Olympia Snowe; Mayor Manley DeBeck; David Lloyd, brownfields program director for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency; and William B. Welte, Motiva CEO and president.

“What I’m going to do is address the important people first, and that’s the employees of Cianbro,” Welte said, pointing to the workers and getting a round of applause from the crowd.

Motiva hired Pittsfield-based Cianbro Corp. to build 53 refinery modules for the Motiva Port Arthur Refinery, which is in the middle of a $7 billion expansion that will make the Texas facility the largest crude oil processing plant in North America.

“You are a big part of that project,” Welte said, adding that the expansion is the largest capital project ever undertaken in Texas.

In order to build the refinery modules — self-standing building skeletons filled with pipe — Cianbro needed to find a place with deepwater access that would accommodate barges that will be used to ship the structures to the Gulf of Mexico.

Back in November, Cianbro chose the site of the shuttered Eastern Fine Paper Co. mill, which closed in January 2004, and spent the last 10 months changing the abandoned mill site into a place with 500 well-paying jobs.

At first, leaders of Motiva, which has headquarters in Houston, needed convincing, Vigue said.

“What? Maine? Ice. Cold. And if that doesn’t get you, the bears will,” he said, joking about how Motiva officials reacted when he suggested Brewer for the project.

But, Vigue said, what they didn’t understand then, but do now, is the determination of Maine workers.

“We have a client who believed in us, who trusted us,” he said while giving a tour of the facility. Now they understand that “we have the finest work force in the world.”

In addition to the workers, Brewer City Manager Steve Bost, and D’arcy Main-Boyington, economic development director, and Tanya Pereira, economic specialist, dubbed “the dynamic duo,” also received accolades.

Vigue thanked the 22 federal, state and local agencies that had a hand in the project and Maine congressional leaders who supported the project and helped procure cleanup and transportation funds.

“This is about teamwork at its best in Maine,” Vigue said.

To thank Motiva for hiring Cianbro, Baldacci gave Welte a key to the state, the first ever issued.

For at least two former Eastern Fine workers and a recent University of Maine graduate, the redeveloped mill site is a dream come true.

Mayor DeBeck worked at Eastern Fine for 18½ years and was sad to see the mill close, but is cheering the return of jobs to his community. Scott Mitchell, who worked at the mill for 17 years, also is happy about the new jobs, especially since he’s one of the hundreds working for Cianbro.

“I didn’t think I’d be back here,” he said with a big smile on his face.

Brayden Sheive, who graduated from the University of Maine this spring with a degree in construction management, said he’s happy to be working in his home state, making an “excellent salary” as a field engineer for Cianbro.

Sheive and Mitchell stood with their fellow Cianbro employees during the grand opening and answered questions and gave tours.

Over the last 10 months, Cianbro has trained 250 people to work at the site laying pipe, welding, operating the huge cranes and other jobs, Vigue said.

“This is a model for the future,” he said.

A copyright story from the Bangor Daily News, Saturday, August 16, 2008.