The Maine

Learning Curve


Larry Carrier and Ralph Pearl are not strangers to the wood business in central Maine. Carrier, a member of the well-known Maine forest products family behind the E.J. Carrier Co., and Pearl, a former pine sawmill manager, are the brains behind the re-boot of formerly flailing Corinth Pellets. Pearl is quick to say getting the plant running, after an $8 million equipment investment, hasn’t been easy— especially when the company is also rebuilding its brand. Yet that is exactly what Carrier and Pearl have done with Corinth in less than two years.

Corinth Pellets went into shutdown this spring after battling lower than expected sales.

“Just when we were getting to where we felt good about ourselves, the sails went out from under us,” Pearl says, adding that the plant will restart soon.

“It’s symptomatic of this industry,” Pearl saysadds, and not a comment on Corinth’s quality or manufacturing process. Instead, Maine battled a warmer than expected winter and an overflow of supply, without too much demand. At a time when Corinth was ramping up capacity, so were other facilities in the area. Pearl shrugs when he adds low oil prices to the list of things that didn’t help the over supply and low demand situation.

“Heating degree days were way off, that was also a big factor. Everyone was geared up for the winter before, buying pellets early, and then barns were full,” he says. Pearl estimates the plant will restart soon, if it continues to only focus on New England home heating. However, Carrier is exploring all kinds of options and markets.

Corinth processes whole tree chips to 3/8 in.