Hancock Lumber Celebrates 175 Years

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Sawmill COO, Aaron Schulte, commented on the complexity, beauty, and challenges of milling Eastern White Pine: “I will never forget the remark I heard from one of our production managers many years ago, ‘There is nothing more complicated than producing a high quality Eastern White Pine Board!’ This has stuck with me ever since as we quite often oversimplify the work that goes into producing a board generated from an Eastern White Pine tree.”

5th, 6th and 7th generation Hancocks gather in front of the Casco Sawmill. From left to right, Alison Hancock, Kevin Hancock, Carol Hancock, Sydney Hancock, and Abby (Hancock) Doherty.

Being in the lumber business since 1848 says more about Hancock Lumber’s commitment to the future than it does about the company’s past. Today Hancock Lumber is a seventh-generation, family-owned integrated forest products company that is passionate about its people-first and values driven culture.

A historic version of the Hancock Lumber sign and logo.

Led by over 700 employees, Hancock has been awarded ‘Best Place to Work in Maine’ annually since 2014 and this year the business is celebrating its 175th company anniversary. Team Hancock operates high-efficiency sawmills, lumberyards, component manufacturing facilities, and full-service home design showrooms. An integrated forest products company, Hancock grows Eastern White Pine trees across 7,500+ acres of sustainably managed timberlands, manufactures Eastern White Pine boards at its four mills, operates truss and wall panel manufacturing facilities, supplies building materials to professional contractors, remodelers, and homeowners, and has nine kitchen design showrooms throughout Maine and New Hampshire.

A collage of photos celebrating Hancock Lumber’s 175th year in business.

Kevin Hancock is the Chairman of this family business as well as an award-winning author and nationally recognized public speaker. For the last decade, Kevin’s written books, spoken nationally, and created content that fuels his website, The Business of Shared Leadership, where he invites any visitor to follow his blog for leadership inspiration. The mission of his personal website is to heighten RESPECT FOR ALL VOICES. If everyone on Earth felt trusted, respected, valued, and heard, what might change? Kevin believes that everything might change–and, most importantly– that the workplace can and must become a catalyst for this transformation. It’s this mindset that has helped transform Hancock Lumber into a ‘Best Place to Work’ since 2014, where their culture focuses on the employee experience first and the customer an extremely close second. Hancock Lumber believes every team member should feel trusted, respected, valued, and heard at work—which, in turn, helps produce world-class products and customer service.

In Hancock’s 175-year company history, the company has only experienced two Eastern White Pine harvest cycles. It takes 80 to 100 years before Pine trees are mature, making Hancock’s business a long-term commitment. Their sawmills run with zero-waste of raw materials, as 100% of the log fiber is utilized. Sawdust by-products from the company’s milling operations are used in place of fossil fuels, and Hancock generates power through turbines, converting otherwise wasted steam from drying lumber into power. The firm also has invested in other forest products to further encourage sustainable practices and industry longevity. Hancock Lumber’s team can source and supply FSC Certified products, along with building materials that meet the rigorous Living Building Challenge requirements.

A fleet of Hancock Lumber trucks getting ready to leave one of Hancock Lumber’s 11 retail locations (Saco) at sunrise.

Sawmill COO Aaron Schulte commented on the complexity, beauty, and challenges of milling Eastern White Pine: “I will never forget the remark I heard from one of our production managers many years ago, ‘There is nothing more complicated than producing a high quality Eastern White Pine Board!’ This has stuck with me ever since as we quite often oversimplify the work that goes into producing a board generated from an Eastern White Pine tree. The average EWP tree took 80 years to mature into a desirable sawlog and in the matter of five weeks, this log has been harvested, transported, sawn into lumber, dried for seven days in a kiln, milled, and delivered to the end-user. How simple is that!? However, the amount of effort to make that board is almost unimaginable to the end user unless they have had the opportunity to see it firsthand. There is a tremendous amount of planning and work that starts at the stump to sustainably harvest the sawlog to ensure strong regeneration of future forests while minimizing the forest floor impact as if no one was ever there before! Now we must turn this knotty round log into useable Pine boards and by-products. This process involves an incredible amount of technology in heavy equipment, automation, high speed sawing, optimized scanning, inventory management systems, product tracking, precision milling, custom packaging and an amazing team committed to manufacturing world-class Eastern White Pine products. Being able to make a consistent product, custom specified for every order and customer from one of the most inconsistent wood species on the planet is a long-term commitment!”

An aerial photo from the Casco Sawmill, one of Hancock Lumber’s four sawmill locations. The Casco Mill is also home to Hancock’s HPF facility.

Team Hancock’s four Eastern White Pine sawmills are focused on capital reinvestments and utilizing new technologies to advance the company’s offerings and manufacturing capabilities. One of these exciting additions is the Hancock ProFinish facility and products. After years of research, testing, and product development, Hancock Lumber’s brought the finishing process in-house at its new facility located on the Casco Sawmill campus. Team Hancock partnered with experts to source, install, and leverage state-of-the-art technology and cutting-edge science to create the right coating formulations for Eastern White Pine boards, made for both interior and exterior applications. Taking the process in-house is a long-term investment, but Hancock’s commitment to quality makes it the right decision for the company, its customers, and the environment. Not only does Hancock Lumber manufacture the pine products and apply the coatings, the company also stocks Hancock ProFinish products in its lumberyards across Maine and New Hampshire.

“We also are launching our new line of stained products which will also be stocked in our retail stores,” said Matt Duprey, Hancock Lumber Sawmill Chief Revenue Officer. “We branded it Hancock ProFinish (HPF) since that is exactly what it is. A group of our employees that take pride in providing our customers with a professional, high-quality coatings system that is used as exterior siding and trim, or interior trim and pattern stock. The most exciting part of this for me is that we are controlling our destiny and managing product quality at the source. During the pandemic we could not get our own product primed and to our stores due to using a third-party primer and labor issues. We lost opportunity and we were not able to keep our own stores stocked with product. Now we have total control of the quality, availability, and flexibility of what we can do with our product. The other exciting thing for us is we have been able to apply new technologically advanced coatings with no VOC’s and performance that is excellent. Our coatings have been through accelerated weather testing that proves out performance through time and different weather variabilities which gives us a high degree of confidence bringing our product to market.”

An archival photo from 1940, showing a few employees at work at the Casco Sawmill.

To learn more about the HPF product line head to https://www.hancocklumber.com/pre-finished-pine/ OR scan the QR code to virtually fly through the HPF facility and watch the process firsthand!

Team Hancock hopes to be going strong for another 175 years and is incredibly proud of the company’s past, present, and future. Hancock Lumber celebrates how far it has come and is continuously adapting, evolving, and growing to continue to flourish in the future.

Team Hancock added this statement: “Thank you to our employees, customers, vendor + industry partners and communities for being alongside of us since 1848.”

To learn more about our company—the 71st oldest family businesses in America—visit www.hancocklumber.com.

To get to the website, use the QR code.

By Miller Wood Trade Publications

The premier online information source for the forest products industry since 1927.

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