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Guilford, Maine

Where history meets the future

Early Manufacturing

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Pride Manufacturing Company

A third major industry of which the town proudly boasted had a fifty year history here before moving on. Pride Manufacturing Co., situated on the banks of the Piscataquis River about a mile and a half downstream from the village, is the largest manufacturer of golf tees in the world. Pride Sales Agency was established in 1930 in Tampa, Florida by Fletcher Pride to manufacture wooden cigar tips for the Hav-a-Tampa Jewel Cigar.

Drapers Mill, Guilford, late 1940s
Drapers Mill, Guilford, late 1940s
Guilford Historical Society

He needed to move part of the business here to be closer to the source of the raw materials required, primarily white birch trees, and in 1956, purchased the Draper Mill, a modern sawmill designed to manufacture bobbins for use in the textile industry as noted in the textile business history above. Product lines were soon expanded to include toys, furniture parts, hobby and craft items, dowels of all sorts, and primarily, golf tees. In 1970 they purchased their largest competitor, Bullard Lumber Co., of Vermont and had increased their plant size sixfold and their employment tenfold. Their largest market was in the United States but they began to export throughout Europe, Canada, Japan and Australia.

The great flood of 1987 dealt a devastating blow to the operation, ruining tons of inventory other than finished goods, and damaging machinery and building alike as the water rose to levels of eight feet within the plant. Not defeated, however, they missed only three shipping days and quickly rallied, working non-stop for several weeks until full operations were resumed. In 1992 they purchased a vacant furniture plant in Burnham, Maine and built a new facility in Florence, Wisconsin. While at the top of their field, they sold to Bessemer Group, who operated the Guilford site a few more years and then consolidated their Maine functions as Pride Sports, Inc., to the Burnham plant. The vacated facility was sold in 2005 to the principals at Maine Wood Turnings who manufactured novelty items, wooden beads, furniture parts, and so on, but who also left town for good in 2009. Today the facility sits empty, a staunch reminder of the present economy.

Guilford, Maine, Celebrating 175 Years of Growth, 175th Anniversary Committee, 1991
Guilford 2000, Carl McKusick and Thomas Blake, 2000, Guilford of Maine's website; True Textiles, Inc, 2010
Hardwood Products Company: Celebrating 75 Years of Service, Company History Boolet, 1994
Town of Guilford meeting minutes and recordings, Volume 12, pp 115-122
personal interviews with Tom Blake and Linwood Flanders
Guilford Town Reports; 1966 to present