Maine Trails, December - January '14
Inside Cover
President's Message
Smart investments
10 in '13
Through the crystal ball
The fix is in
Organically grown

 

President’s Message
Another day, another transportation challenge.What’s ahead for MBTA in 2014 and beyond. By Thomas Gorrill.
 
Cover Story
Smart Investments. MBTA awards $18,500 in scholarships to 15 Maine students.
 
Maine News
10 in ‘13. The Top 10 transportation stories in 2013.
 
Association News
Through the crystal ball. Transportation professionals imagine the future at 63rd Maine Transportation Conference.
 
The fix is in. Fix It Now! and scholarships are topics at MBTA Holiday Meeting.
 
Member News
Organically grown. The Rowley Agency expands its service and business. By Kathryn Buxton

 

On the cover: 2013 MBTA Educational Foundation scholarship winners.

 

 


Another day, another transportation challenge

By Thomas Gorrill, MBTA President
 
I am writing this in the first days of 2014, and as often happens at this time of year, I find myself wondering how we got here so quickly. That answer is easy to find when I look back at the past year.
 
Two-thousand-and-thirteen went by quickly, and this usually is the case when you are busy and, as they say, having fun. As an organization, Maine Better Transportation Association was very busy. If you are wondering where the year went, here’s where it went from a transportation point of view.
 
Probably the most notable event had to do with Question 3, the Transportation Bond. The first part of MBTA’s year was spent working with Governor LePage’s staff and the Maine Legislature to urge them to agree on a bond to send to voters. This wasn’t a hard sell. Both the governor and the legislature understood that, after going without a bond for two years, Maine really needed one. In fact, even before an agreement was reached, MaineDOT included $100 million bond to help pay for its current work plan. The problem was when the bond got caught up in other funding discussions in Augusta.
 
In the end, it all worked out and the legislature held a last-minute special session to send a bond to voters in November. Their Hail Mary passage of the bond didn’t give us much time to rally our forces, but in the end, MBTA members and staff redoubled their efforts working toward voter passage of the bond. We were successful, with the bond passing with a 72 percent YES vote – the largest margin of any bond on the ballot.
 
MBTA members and staff also worked in support of other transportation funding measures passed in 2013. While legislators once again put off addressing Maine’s long-term transportation funding needs, including meaningful discussion of a replacement for dwindling gas tax revenues, they did approve a $50 million GARVEE bond that will give MaineDOT the funding it needs to address one significant short-term need – the replacement of the Sarah Mildred Long Bridge.
 
Also, the governor and the legislature passed a measure re-defining Highway and General Fund allocations to the Maine State Police. This is an issue MBTA has worked on for quite a few years, and it was gratifying to see those efforts come to fruition. This funding shift wouldn’t have happened without the leadership of Governor LePage, who put it in both the Highway Fund and General Fund budgets, along with members of the Appropriations and Transportation Committees, who made sure it stayed in prior to final votes. Most importantly, this means that MaineDOT will have an additional $15 million to work with over the next two years.
 
As an organization, we continued to see solid support from our members at events. This year’s Infrastructure Golf Classic sold out. Attendance was strong at our annual meeting, as well as our regional forums in Cumberland Eastport, Presque Isle and Fall Convention. We also had a strong turnout for the Maine Transportation Conference, an event we co-sponsor every year with MaineDOT and the Maine Section ASCE, and the MBTA Holiday Meeting.
 
As we do every year, we supported scholarships. In 2013, we awarded scholarships to 15 students, all of them smart, young, energetic and talented individuals who are on the cusp of their careers. We know these rising stars will help drive transportation innovation in the decades to come, and, as they do year after year, they help us keep the faith as we go forward.
 
This past year we began to give shape to Fix It Now!, our new grassroots campaign designed to change how Mainers and their leaders view transportation infrastructure and its maintenance in a more focused, productive and beneficial way for everybody involved.
 
We also grew our organization. The MBTA Membership Committee did an outstanding job, recruiting 34 new corporate members, along with another 25 individual, association and municipal members. I would like to offer my thanks to John Sturgeon for his commitment, dedication and perseverance. His leadership of the Membership Committee was stellar, and I thank each and every member of that committee for their efforts. What a great job you all did. 
 
So that’s why 2013 went so quickly. And there is every indication 2014 will be just as busy and successful.
 
This year, we plan to launch the first public phases of the Fix It Now! campaign. We also will work on a new strategic plan for the organization. And of course, we will continue our mission promoting investments in safe, efficient transportation for Maine and to raise money for the MBTA Infrastructure Development Fund and transportation scholarships.
 
So, please accept my thanks for a great 2013 and all the hard work and invaluable support you gave this organization. I also offer my wishes for a happy and prosperous New Year for you and your families. I look forward to working with you in 2014!

 


Smart investments

MBTA awards $18,500 in scholarships to 15 Maine students, several who already are carving out impressive careers in transportation

 
Every one of this year’s scholarship winners has proven to be a scholar in his or her chosen field and has also, through outside work, come to understand the role transportation plays in Maine. 
 
Case in point: the three Transportation Trailblazer sustaining scholarship winners – Casey Cobb (for the second time), Yi Peng (who also won a Lucius Barrows Award) and Erik Ryan. All three, despite their young age, have considerable on-the-job experience working for construction firms and MaineDOT. “Casey, Yi and Erik exemplify the breadth of Maine’s extraordinary talent,” said Stuart Welch, chair of the MBTA Educational Foundation. “We established this scholarship in 2009 to foster our best and brightest, and every year the quality of the applicants exceeds our expectations. These three students are excellent scholars and have worked very hard to achieve so much so early in their lives.”
 
All of the 2013 class of scholarship winners have a different story of how they came to their studies. For example, Yi Peng’s journey began as a child on a farm in China; Lyndon Whitcomb has worked on construction projects while on mission trips in the Dominican Republic; and Gerard Grondin has earned an MBA and served in the U.S. Army on several tours of duty in the Middle East.
 
The MBTA Educational Foundation, through the application process, identifies students like Casey, Yi, Lyndon, Gerard and Erik who have demonstrated a strong interest in the industry and show promise as future advocates for Maine’s transportation community.
 
The MBTA began offering scholarships decades ago for students pursuing transportation-related studies. By 1990, the organization had established a fund for scholarships, and in 2000, the MBTA formalized its commitment to education by establishing the MBTA Educational Foundation. The foundation, which has a separate board, means the organization is now able to better focus on planning for and management of scholarship funds. It also gives MBTA members and friends the opportunity to make tax-deductible donations to the foundation. And, thanks to the generosity of its members, the fund has grown from $4,500 in 1990 to nearly $500,000 today. The major fundraiser for the foundation is the annual Super Raffle held in November and December, but members also may make donations throughout the year.
 
Since the days when the organization was known as the Maine Good Roads Association, education and leadership have been closely linked with the MBTA’s mission
 
“MBTA has been around for three-quarters of a century protecting the public’s investment in a safe, efficient transportation system, and we want it to be around a lot longer,” said Welch. “Scholarships are one of the smartest investments we can make in the future of the industry.”
 
Kenneth Burrill Scholar
 
Brooke Glidden
 
The oldest child in a family of seven, Brooke Glidden grew up in Palermo, attended Erskine Academy and is now at the University of Maine majoring in civil engineering and minoring in construction management with a concentration in transportation engineering.
 
At school, she is involved with the American Society of Civil Engineers, Society of Women Engineers, Chi Epsilon Civil Engineering Honor Society, Tau Beta Pi Engineering Honor Society, Golden Key National Honor Society, Concrete Canoe team and Associated General Contractors. She holds officer positions in several of these organizations and participates in community service activities. She is also a member of the Maine Chapter, National Association of Women in Construction and a student member of the Maine Better Transportation Association. For the past three summers she has worked for FGS/CMT on MaineDOT projects as a bridge and paving inspector. As a result, she has been able to earn her ACI Concrete Testing Certification, NETTCP Paving Inspector Certification, and Portable Nuclear Gauge Certification. 
 
 “I have loved working on bridges and roads,” she said. “I found it extremely interesting and learned something new every day.” This is the second year Brooke has received the Kenneth Burrill Scholarship.
 
Transportation Trailblazers

Casey Cobb
 
Casey Cobb grew up on a potato farm in Masardis, Maine and graduated from Ashland Community High School in 2010. He is presently a senior at the University of Maine at Orono, majoring in civil engineering and minoring in engineering leadership and management. He is interested in transportation and structural engineering. He serves as vice president of the American Society of Civil Engineers, is the historian of Club Canada, a member of the Concrete Canoe team and plays on several intramural soccer teams.
 
During the summer following his freshman year, he signed on as a project worker for the Maine Department of Transportation. He also interned at Reed & Reed, Inc. on a wind project and developed an interest in structural engineering. This past summer he worked as a structural intern at VHB in South Portland.
 
After graduation, he would like to pursue a master’s degree in structural engineering. After graduate school, he hopes to work in the design field and get a professional engineer’s license. “Ultimately, I would like to combine my interests in transportation and structural engineering to design innovative new bridges that are more integrated with urban transportation needs,” he writes. This is his second year as recipient of the Transportation Trailblazer scholarship.
 
Yi Peng
 
Yi Peng was born in a small village in Ba’nan, Chongqing, China into a farming family who worked one acre of land. Yi finished middle school in 2000 but could not attend high school because they were too poor. In 2009, she came to America with her daughter, Emily, and her ex-husband. She received a GED diploma from Lawrence Adult Education in 2010, and then enrolled in Kennebec Valley Community College in Fairfield. In 2011, she received a full scholarship from the Exploring Transfer Program at Vassar College. In 2012, she transferred to the University of Maine (Orono).
 
She has always loved math and problem solving and with an interest in the field of transportation, Yi has chosen to major in civil and environmental engineering. In 2013, she worked as a summer undergraduate research assistant through the Maine Physical Sciences Partnership. Currently, she is a student research assistant at the Advanced Structures and Composites Center. Her goal is “to help others be successful, using her knowledge as a civil engineer and what she has learned on the journey from her small village by way of a higher education to her dream of a better life.”
 
Yi also has been awarded a 2013 Lucius Barrows Scholarship.
 
Erik Ryan
 
Erik Ryan was born and raised in Ludlow in Aroostook County. He graduated as salutatorian of Hodgdon High School and was a member of the National Honor Society and student council. He then worked four years at K&T Fire Equipment in Island Falls, where he did general mechanic work and light fabrication on fire trucks and other equipment. Last summer, he worked on a paving crew for SteelStone Industries in Houlton. It was there, he remembers, “gaining insight regarding our infrastructure and its importance to a functioning society.”
 
When he is not studying, Erik spends most of his free time in the outdoors, fishing, hunting and canoeing. Currently he’s a sophomore at UMaine, majoring in civil engineering. He said he chose civil engineering as a major because it seemed like the best way to make a positive impact on the world directly out of college. Post-graduation, his goals are to obtain a job, pursue a PE license and “work to better the world in any way I can.”
 
Patrick Verville
 
Patrick Verville was born in Portland and attended Deering High School where he played soccer, hockey and lacrosse. After his first year in construction management at the University of Maine, he worked as a masonry tender for Maine Masonry.
 
“It was my first job in the construction industry, and it was hard work, but I really enjoyed myself. I was able to see how a construction site was run and the progress of the project each day,” he said.
 
His second summer, he interned for Knowles Industrial Services Corporation and worked as a laborer, attended scheduling and construction management meetings, assisted his superintendent with material orders and worked on as-builts. This past summer, he interned for Wright-Ryan Construction as a laborer, doing demolition and cleanup and light carpentry. He also served as a foreman for a project cleaning crew.
 
For the last three years, Patrick has been a member of the ABC UMaine Chapter. “This has been a great experience for me, because it has allowed me to network with construction professionals and be involved in the local community around the school,” he said.
 
After graduation he hopes to be “part of an established company with an excellent reputation with an eye for quality.”
 
Millard W. Pray Scholars
 
Spencer Allen Bernier
 
Spencer Allen Bernier has always looked up to his father and admired his work ethic. And it was watching his dad on the job as a truck driver for CPM Constructors that gave him his first glimpse of a potential future in the transportation industry. That career interest was cemented in 2010 when he took a job as a summer laborer at CPM (he worked there last summer, as well).
 
 “When I needed to start thinking about what I would like to do for my career, I immediately knew what I wanted to do. I wanted to be an engineer and find an easier, safer and more reliable way to transport equipment and materials.” 
 
Two years ago, he enrolled in Southern Maine Community College in a pre-engineering program. He is transferring to UMaine this spring to pursue a mechanical engineering degree. This is the second year that Spencer has been awarded the Millard Pray Scholarship.
 
Taylor Light-Surek
 
Taylor Light-Surek grew up in Appleton and attended Appleton Village School until seventh grade at which point the family moved to Belfast where he attended Troy Howard Middle School. At Belfast Area High School, he was on the swimming and diving teams.
 
After graduation, Taylor worked at CPM Constructors for two summers on jobs in Carmel, Augusta, Lewiston, Scarborough, Yarmouth, and Avon with the bridge crew and dirt crew and helped with many tasks ranging from highway work to erosion control. In 2011, Taylor enrolled at Maine Maritime Academy, in the marine engineering technology program and is currently a junior.
 
”I wanted to pursue a career in the field of marine transportation because nearly 90 percent of all world trade travels by water. [Marine transportation also] insures job security through my lifetime, which was one of my concerns when choosing a career path. Maine Maritime Academy has over a 90 percent placement rate upon graduation which enables most graduates a career in their field of study immediately upon graduation.”
 
Jessica Woods
 
Jessica Woods is a senior at the University of Maine studying accounting. She grew up in a few small Maine towns and graduated from Hall-Dale High School in 2010. At the University of Maine, she is involved with her community service sorority, Kappa Delta Phi NAS, serving as both the treasurer and secretary. She also plays club field hockey and participates in the Institute of Management Accountants.
 
She has spent the past two summers working in the office at CPM Constructors as an intern, learning the ins and outs of the construction industry from a management perspective.  
 
As a junior, she took two semesters of cost accounting and discovered a passion she knew she wanted to pursue, she says. “Cost accounting, also known as managerial accounting, captured my interest almost immediately, and I knew that instead of becoming a certified public accountant or an actuary like most accounting majors pursue upon graduation, I wanted to become a certified management accountant with a focus in the transportation industry.” Jessica is a second year recipient of the Millard W. Pray Scholarship and graduated in December.
 
Paris Snowe Scholar
 
Lyndon Whitcomb
 
Lyndon Whitcomb grew up in Morrill, dirt bike riding, fishing, hunting deer and birds, snowmobiling and camping and went to school in Belfast and enjoyed wrestling for eight years. He also attended Waldo County Technical Center, completing the diesel and welding programs, and was a member of the National Technical Honor Society. He has been on mission trips to the Dominican Republic, where he helped with building and distributing school supplies for 180 children.
 
Lyndon has worked on equipment at Springdale Farm, prepared dairy cows for showmanship at Blue Hill Fair and has pulled modified and stock, lawn and garden tractors—modified and stock at local fairs every summer for eight years. He has worked for J.V. Hurd Logging, Jim’s Burner Service and Bonville Boys and currently has a diesel mechanic internship at Milton CAT, where he hopes to work after he graduates this spring from Northern Maine Community College with an associate’s degree in diesel hydraulics. On his application, he wrote, “I chose this career because diesel engines are cool and necessary to keep Maine’s economy moving forward and meet consumer demand. Everything you and I consume is transported by a diesel engine.” Eventually, Lyndon would like to own and operate a heavy equipment garage and create jobs. 
 
Southern Maine Community College
 
Gerard Grondin
 
During summers and winter breaks at Falmouth High School and in college, Gerard Grondin worked as a laborer for R.J. Grondin & Sons on small and large-scale projects – from small site prep jobs in South Portland to the Casco Bay Bridge.
 
While enrolled in the University of Maine engineering program, he joined the Army ROTC program and upon graduation, was commissioned as an officer in the U.S. Army.
 
Gerard then served more than five and a half years active duty with multiple overseas tours to several Middle Eastern countries. He then earned a masters of business administration from Plymouth State University and currently is enrolled at SMCC with a double major in construction technology and precision machining.
 
“While I do not have a civil engineering degree, my technical background from my training at University of Maine and my practical experience from my days as a laborer will put me in a position to be an asset to a company in the transportation field,” he said.
 
Northern Maine Community College
 
Ryan Turcotte
 
Ryan Turcotte grew up in Mechanic Falls. He went to Elm Street School and Poland Regional High School and, with characteristic dry wit, he readily admits that it took him a while to appreciate the importance of education: “I wasn’t the best student that graduated from Poland Regional High School.” 
 
With the support of his extended family, he enrolled at Washington County Community College for the mechanical technologies associate degree. Ryan has worked diligently to support himself through school. He worked as a resident assistant on campus and also nighttime maintenance. He also has served on the student senate for two years and this year was named student senate president.
 
This fall, his fiancé gave birth to a son, and he said that has “pushed [him] to become a better man than I was before.” As a result, he has devoted more time to his education. He said he chose transportation as a career because it would always provide for him and his family.
 
Lucius Barrows Scholars
 
Nicholas Mathon
 
Nicholas Mathon was born and raised in Lewiston, and attended Lewiston High School where he played hockey. He currently is attending the University of Maine and enjoys spending time outdoors hunting, four wheeling, hiking, fishing, or playing hockey. For the last two summers he has worked as an intern in the engineering department for the city of Lewiston and continues to work there during school breaks.
 
“The transportation field is something that interests me because in order to efficiently design an intersection for example, you must work with a team of people from different disciplines, and I find that appealing,” he writes. “Also, seeing a finished product, such as an intersection, and seeing it be used by potentially thousands of people every day, would give a sense of satisfaction that I would enjoy.”
 
Upon graduating, he plans to stay in Maine and hopes to have a job before the end of the summer. After getting a job, he plans to save money in order to buy a house with his girlfriend and then get married. “Moving up the ladder and obtaining my P.E. license is also something I will be striving towards.”
 
Yi Peng
Please see Yi’s biography under “Transportation Trailblazer.”
 
MBTA/ASCE Maine Transportation Conference Scholars

Chad James
 
A senior majoring in construction management technology and minoring in engineering entrepreneurial at UMaine, Chad James plans to remain in Maine to pursue a career in the heavy civil or commercial building construction field.
 
Chad earned an associate of science degree in civil engineering technology at Eastern Maine Community College (EMCC) where he achieved dean’s list status all four semesters before his transfer to UMaine. At graduation from EMCC, Chad received the Award for Excellence in Technology and also graduated with honors, achieving a grade point average of 3.688, the highest GPA among graduating civil engineering students in his class. Since his transfer, he’s maintained a cumulative grade point average of 3.612.
 
Recently, Chad achieved the associate constructor designation and is scheduled to complete the fundamentals of engineering exam in the spring of 2014. Over the past two years, Chad has completed internships with The Lane Construction Corporation. A few of his duties included: working as an acting hot mix asphalt (HMA) plant foreman, creating structural and plant layout designs, managing numerous aspects of HMA projects, and supervising HMA plant crews for safety, quality and productivity.
 
Corey LaRue
 
Corey LaRue graduated from Edward Little High School in 2008, then decided to pursue a degree in construction management after playing junior hockey for two years in Saco, Maine. He is a senior in the engineering technologies program at UMaine. He worked as a laborer for St. Laurent & Sons in Lewiston for three summers, learning how a small excavation company works on a job site. Last summer he interned with Sargent Corporation, providing him experience with large-scale projects, including a 33-acre cut-to-fill project in the Mid-Atlantic, using two scrappers for the majority of the hauling. He remains active at UMaine, serving as vice president of the Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC) student chapter, while handling a full course load. He noted ABC allows him to get involved with the community and prospective CMT students, assisting with engineering expos and service projects.
 
Jacob Stevens
 
Jacob Stevens is a senior at UMaine majoring in construction management technology, with a minor in entrepreneurial studies and surveying. 
 
He enjoys several hobbies in his free time including hunting, fishing, hiking, intramural sports on campus and spending time with family and friends.
 
He decided to pursue a degree in construction management because of a high school job, working summers on a construction crew based out of Machias. This job, he said, gave him a great appreciation for attention to detail, keeping standards high and holding accountability for billing and left him with an overall interest in the field of construction.
 
This past summer he was awarded an internship from the Sargent Corporation. This, he said, allowed him to use skills from his previous construction job and much of the information he’d learned in his construction management program. “Working as an intern was a very rewarding experience, and I would recommend it to anyone before graduating from college,” he said. Jacob hopes to stay in Maine and continue working in the heavy civil industry.
 
FMI: Donations to the MBTA Educational Foundation are tax deductible. Learn more about the foundaton’s work at www.MBTAonline.org (click on “Scholarships”).

 


10 in '13

In 2013, transportation made waves – and headlines. Here’s a look back at the Top 10 transportation stories for the year.

 
1. The bond saga, part 1
 
The transportation year got off to a strong start when Maine Governor Paul LePage proposed a $100 million bond in January. That was only one of several significant transportation bond proposals under consideration during the first session of the 126th Maine Legislature. Unfortunately, the bill he introduced and several others, became victims of the perennial back and forth state funding priorities, including Maine’s debt to hospitals. By session’s end in early July, legislators still had not taken up debate on a transportation bond. The session ended with legislative leadership vowing to address a bundle of bonds later.

2. The bond saga, part 2
 
How much later, was the real question, and the answer to that would prove a bit of a nail biter. Would leadership wait to call legislators back to the session in the fall to send a bond package to voters in June 2014? Or could the engines of government ramp up over the summer break? Faced with waiting, and having to put off more than 100 highway and bridge projects that were critical to MaineDOT’s current work plan, the legislature met in late August and quickly debated and passed a package of five different bond proposals totaling $149.5 million. At $100 million, transportation claimed the lion’s share of the bonds that would go to voters, funding that would create or support more than 1,400 jobs and generate approximately $154 million in federal, local and private matching funds. The bond package was passed just in time to get onto the November 5th ballot – a feat some labeled “The November Surprise.” Without the bond, MaineDOT’s work plan “would have been largely devoid of any capital investment,” noted MBTA Executive Director Maria Fuentes at the time. “The majority of these are bread-and-butter highway and bridge projects on priority corridors-capital projects that are the real guts of the plan and are essential for Mainers traveling back and forth to work and school every day.”
 
MBTA president Tom Gorrill said that in discussions with state legislators leading up to the vote, “there was recognition [among elected officials] of how important a transportation bond would be to the economy” in a state that really depends on its roads, rail and ports. “We were all thrilled when the bond was sent to voters,” said Gorrill, speaking of the MBTA board of directors’ reaction to the passage of the bond package.

3. A happy ending
 
Maine Trails is pleased to report that the bond saga came to a happy ending. MBTA worked with the Maine State Chamber, AGC Maine, Maine Section ASCE and ACEC of Maine and many others who threw their efforts behind the bond passage that includes funding for roads ($49 million), bridges ($27 million) and multimodal ($24 million). In the days leading up to the election, members rounded up support for the YES on Question 3 Coalition and took prominent roles in Portland and Hampden press conferences. They also spread the word among friends, family and co-workers and wrote editorials and letters to the editor that appeared in all of the major newspapers.
 
That hard work paid off, and Maine voters affirmed their support for transportation, passing Question 3 with a 72 percent YES vote. It was the strongest show of support for transportation funding since 2007.
 
 “There was a feeling this year that Maine needed these investments, to fix our roads and to fix our economy,” said MBTA President Tom Gorrill. “MaineDOT was counting on this bond to keep its work plan on track, and frankly, it is a relief for everyone in the industry that it passed.”
 
4. Maine’s bridges 9th worst in nation
 
“This is not a good time to put Maine’s bridge program on hold,” said MBTA president Tom Gorrill last summer, right around the time the Maine Legislature adjourned without voting to send a transportation bond to voters. The bond passed, but for the time being, Maine bridges still rank ninth worst in the nation, according to the latest report put out by Transportation for America.
 
In fact, Maine has slipped in Transportation for America’s rankings, going from 12th to 9th since other states have been able to make more headway in efforts to replace or repair deficient bridges.
 
There are 356 structurally deficient bridges in Maine, including 58 fracture-critical steel truss bridges similar in design to a Washington state bridge that collapsed during the evening rush hour this past May. Maine has been able to reduce its inventory of deficient bridges, including rehabilitating or replacing several extraordinary bridges.
 
Much more needs to be done. Deferring maintenance of bridges and highways can cost three times as much as preventative repairs. The backlog also increases safety risks, hinders economic prosperity and significantly burdens taxpayers. Even with passage of the transportation bond, MaineDOT estimates it should be spending an additional $19 million on its bridges annually to meet state bridge needs.
 
Still, Maine is not alone, and as a country, the United States’ infrastructure remains sorely underfunded.
 
“We spend about three to four percent of our gross national product [on roads and bridges,” CPM Constructors’ Peter Krakoff told Maine Trails in June. “In Europe they spend five percent…In China, it’s seven or eight percent...”

5. The Icelanders have landed
 
Last winter, Eimskip, the Icelandic shipping company, announced it would move its existing container service hub from Norfolk, Virginia to Portland. Reason? To cut its shipping time to northern Europe. In March, the company followed through, and the first container ship sailed into port. Eimskip estimates it will ship approximately 5,000 containers annually with biweekly service to the port.
 
All this has been good news for the port of Portland, which many hope is poised for a freight boom. If Maine’s deep water ports rebound from the recession, and that seems to be the trend, it will be in large part due to prudent public investments made in the port’s infrastructure.
 
The state and federal government has invested more than $5 million in the port of Portland infrastructure during the past two years – investments that were credited with helping Eimskip to make the move.
 
The port will receive another $9 million from the recently passed transportation bond to expand freight capabilities and extend a rail connection to the International Marine Terminal where Eimskip docks. This is expected to encourage more manufacturers to ship Maine goods to European markets. To help things along, the state recently established a special office to promote more trade opportunities with Europe.
 
6. It’s a breeze
 
The Maine Turnpike Authority in April introduced its first open road tolling (ORT) facility at the mainline toll barrier in New Gloucester. The new toll plaza allows travelers with E-ZPass devices to pay tolls there without stopping. 
 
Many Mainers are hoping this is the beginning of a new generation of electronic tolling. But there’s still work to be done. MTA Executive Director Peter Mills said there would need to be a re-evaluation of the York toll plaza and other locations that would include close scrutiny of the return on investment of ORT and other options. When the agency does begin construction on a new mainline ORT facility, Mills told Maine Trails, it would be at a location that fulfills criteria for safety – a long straightway with no curves or bridges to obstruct drivers’ views. And when the decision is made, the question of how much it would cost will come into play.
 
In the meantime, the Maine Turnpike Authority continues to explore alternatives and to see if the turnpike could build a structure with a smaller footprint at the York site. Walter Fagerlund of HNTB, senior technical advisor and project manager for both the New Gloucester ORT and system-wide toll replacement projects, said operating a toll system with the old technology while introducing new technology has been a challenge. All of which is an indication of just how big of a step the New Gloucester ORT plaza really was.
 
Should our leaders be thinking about sending the gas tax to pasture? Is it getting to be time for retirement? Most transportation pundits agree that full retirement, even after 81 years, is not an option. “My guess is that this is one birthday that we’ll continue to see year after year,” concluded Forbes contributor Brigham A. McCown who served as the federal government’s top motor carrier safety attorney for the trucking, bus and moving industries at the U.S. Department of Transportation.
 
The federal gas tax has remained steady at 18.4 cents per gallon since 1993. In the meantime, cars have become more fuel efficient, meaning less money for roads and bridges. Yet the tax has not budged. Still, there might be some life kicking in the old tax. Just this December, U.S. Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-Oregon) introduced legislation that would increase the gas tax by 15 cents, matching a proposal that was included in the 2011 Simpson-Bowles budget reform recommendations.
 
7. Federal gas tax celebrates 81
 
Should our leaders be thinking about sending the gas tax to pasture? Is it getting to be time for retirement? Most transportation pundits agree that full retirement, even after 81 years, is not an option. “My guess is that this is one birthday that we’ll continue to see year after year,” concluded Forbes contributor Brigham A. McCown who served as the federal government’s top motor carrier safety attorney for the trucking, bus and moving industries at the U.S. Department of Transportation.
 
The federal gas tax has remained steady at 18.4 cents per gallon since 1993. In the meantime, cars have become more fuel efficient, meaning less money for roads and bridges. Yet the tax has not budged. Still, there might be some life kicking in the old tax. Just this December, U.S. Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-Oregon) introduced legislation that would increase the gas tax by 15 cents, matching a proposal that was included in the 2011 Simpson-Bowles budget reform recommendations.
 
8. Aroostook rail success story
 
Maine Northern Railway (MNR) all but wrapped up work on its rehabilitation of Aroostook rail. In June, MNR completed an agreement to buy a 28-mile stretch of line between Van Buren and Madawaska from Montreal Maine & Atlantic. And by August, the company had nearly completed all of the $11.5 million in upgrades funded by a $10.5 million federal TIGER grant (transportation investment generating economic recovery) issued in 2011 and an additional $1 million invested by MNR’s parent company, Irving Transportation.
 
 “This has been a tremendous partnership at all levels,” said Ian Simpson of Irving, speaking at the MBTA Aroostook County Meeting in August. He was talking about contributions to the effort by both public (MaineDOT and US DOT) and private (Irving) sectors. With the TIGER grant, MNR has been able to replace 35 crossings and perform preventative maintenance including the replacement of more than 80,000 ties (30,000 more ties than originally planned) and almost 80,000 tons of rock ballast. In doing so, Simpson said that MNR had taken “some of the worst track in New England, made it some of the best track –and done a lot to get track speed up.” Speeds that had been limited to just 10 miles in many places on the line are now 25 mph on branch lines and 35 mph at Oakfield, thereby reducing shipping times, improving efficiency and attracting shippers.
 
9. A long to-do list
 
Maine said goodbye to two transportation greats this year: Carlton Day Reed and Harold Bouchard.
 
Reed, the former president and chairman of Reed & Reed, was also known for his accomplishments serving in the Maine legislature. A Democrat, he served in both chambers, including as President of the Maine Senate and was known for working well with others. He was most proud of passing legislation to help clean up the state’s polluted rivers and his work with the Woolwich Historical Society to help preserve the area’s local history. After graduating from Colby College he joined his father in the family construction business as a partner. Reed was a driving force in the company, helping to establish Reed & Reed’s reputation for bridge building. Descended from three prominent seafaring Maine families – the Reeds, the Days and the Carltons – he and his wife Betty had a penchant for travel and visited six continents over the years. “He believed in miracles, and he lived his life like that,” said his son, Tom. “He never gave up, no matter what he was doing.”
 
A French-speaking native of Aroostook County, Harold O. Bouchard loved trucks and heavy equipment and, as he told Maine Trails in 2008, “always had a desire for wheels.”
 
When he left the family farm in his truck, he’d said he was brought up to earn a living and he’d discovered that poverty was “a great asset.” Bouchard hauled materials and goods that were the bedrock of the state’s economy and his company became one of the principal trucking firms for Great Northern Paper Co.
 
The company also shipped black oil to the mills for Sprague Energy and, in the early 1990s, began hauling liquid asphalt for Roland Fogg at Barrett Paving Materials. By the time he stepped down as the company president in 2005, the company had grown from a single truck and Harold to a fleet of 75 and 130 employees. Today the company employs 175 between H.O. Bouchard Inc. and Comstock Woodlands and operates 100 trucks and is still very much a family-owned company with Harold’s son Brian at the helm and grandson Jeff serving as vice president.
 
10. A long to-do list
 
This fall, TRIP, a national nonprofit transportation research group based in Washington, D.C. released a new report identifying Maine’s 50 most pressing transportation challenges and the fixes needed to address them. It also called for increased public spending to support a transportation system that “can accommodate the mobility demands of a modern society.”
 
Included were 12 sections of major roads or highways that need significant repairs or reconstruction; 19 major bridges that have significant deficiencies and need to be rebuilt or reconstructed; one improvement to a maritime facility; and 18 sections of the state’s transportation system that need improvements to address multiple challenges by improving safety, increasing access or improving road of bridge conditions. The top five challenges were: reconstruction of a portion of Route 3 in Bar Harbor; replacement of Union Street Bridge in Bangor; reconstruction of a portion of Route 302 in the Portland area; replacement of Pine Point Crossing Bridge in Scarborough; and replacement of Bar Mills Bridge from Buxton to Hollis.
 
At a press conference announcing the release of the list, Dana Connors, president of the Maine State Chamber of Commerce, said: ”Transportation is truly the backbone of Maine’s economy. It supports our traditional, natural resources-based industries related to farming, forestry and manufacturing, but it is key to continuing the growth and expansion of tourism, our largest industry.”
 

 


Through the crystal ball

Transportation professionals imagine the future at 63rd Maine Transportation Conference

If the transportation professionals speaking at the 63rd Maine Transportation Conference, December 5 at the Augusta Civic Center, have any say in future matters, our Main Streets will beckon new residents and businesses to live and work downtown, our highways and bridges will be able to persevere through wind, water, snow and ice, and we will have sustainable transportation funding resources to keep Maine’s roads, bridges, rail, transit, ports and airports safe and efficient.
 
It was the latter topic – identifying a future source of transportation funding – that occupied the place of honor at the annual event’s policy discussions. The transportation funding deficit faced by states was one of the core issues addressed in Cynthia Burbank’s keynote speech, A Darwinian View of Transportation.
 
Burbank sees many factors contributing to that deficit: an increasing number of hybrid and electric vehicle users who are reducing the revenues generated by the gas tax; a generation of young drivers who are choosing to drive less; an aging demographic base in Maine and elsewhere; and a gas tax that has not kept pace with inflation and cost of living increases.
 
She also sees community leaders beginning the discussion of solutions – vehicle miles traveled user fees, shifting more of the funding burden to local and state governments and tolls among them. But she also sees a lack of political will to do anything about it. The great hope, she said, will be innovation on smaller scales – perhaps by states and municipalities - that have the power to solve future challenges of access and public mobility.
 
High profile welcome
 
This year, once again, Governor Paul LePage offered welcoming remarks, and he, too, spoke of funding. His remarks focused on the current round of state transportation funding, particularly the $100 million in transportation bond funding passed by voters in November and another $130 million in bonds that had been in limbo while he and the Maine Legislature negotiated repayment of the state’s hospital debt. And he expressed his belief that by prudent investments and bringing business credentials and business practices to public government, good things will come to Maine such as the recent launch of Eimskip’s marine freight service connecting Maine and Europe. That was made possible by improvements made to Portland’s International Marine Terminal and considerable lobbying on the behalf of port officials and the state.
 
“I do believe that if we continue on the path we are on, we are going to be the benefactors,” said LePage addressing the nearly 600 transportation leaders gathered for the annual day of technical and policy discussions and networking.
 
Bringing down the house
 
The day-long event featured a range of future-oriented discussions. One panel looked at designing downtown streets and transportation networks to encourage business and attract new residents. There also was considerable talk of increasingly common extreme weather events and how to best prepare for them by building “sustainable” infrastructure and developing policies and procedures to keep motorists safe. One session took on utilizing technology to create “smart infrastructure” and increase efficiency. Another session looked at employing social media to improve communication in transportation.
 
There was also a glimpse into the future through the eyes of a new generation of transportation professionals, with student papers presented on traffic calming, the design of bicycle and pedestrian facilities, wrong-way driving and using recycled materials to enhance asphalt performance. (UMaine College of Engineering student Nicole Scott won first prize in the student paper competition for her research on wrong-way driving.)
 
Still, it was the talk of the future of transportation funding that ultimately brought down the house. James Whitty of the Oregon Department of Transportation and Joung Lee of the American Association of State Highway and Transportation headlined the Funding the Future panel. Lee offered a lively look at the impact of national politics on future transportation funding. Whitty gave a nuts-and-bolts view of Oregon’s innovative road usage/charge program and the long learning curve and several studies that promise to pay off as the state moves to implement a new, flexible VMT charge. It is hoped, he said, the VMT will eventually supplant the state’s outmoded gas tax. (Whitty was voted the winner of the MBTA’s Max Wilder Award for best presentation.)
 
After the evening speaker unexpectedly cancelled, conference organizers rebounded with a fun and candid session headlined by Maine’s past and present MaineDOT commissioners – David Bernhardt, John Melrose and George Campbell – skillfully moderated by MaineDOT Deputy Commissioner Bruce Van Note. The “informal” question-and-answer session yielded both insights and humor as the three commissioners compared notes on their years heading the state’s DOT.
 
FMI: The Maine Transportation Conference is co-sponsored by MBTA, MaineDOT and the Maine Section of the American Society of Civil Engineers. For more information about the event, visit www.MBTAonline.org.
 
MaineDOT David H. Stevens Award
  • John Byther, MaineDOT Northern Region Project Manager
FHWA Paul L. Lariviere Award
  • John Byther, MaineDOT Northern Region Project Manager
Bridge Breaking Competition
  • MaineDOT Bridge Group
UMaine College of Engineering Student Paper Awards*
  • First: Nicole Scott, Wrong-Way Driving
  • Second: Kody Price, Recycled Materials as Asphalt Additives
  • Runners Up: Lindsey Kandiko, Designing Bicycle and Pedestrian Facilities for a Healthier, More Active Maine; and Patrick Celestine, Traffic Calming
MBTA Max L. Wilder Award
  • James Whitty, Oregon Department of Transportation: Oregon Road Usage/Charge Program
*Cash prizes sponsored by ASCE – Maine Chapter; AGC Maine and MBTA.
Plaque and award sponsored by MBTA.

 


The fix is in

Even though the gathering has a distinctively festive feel, a lot of work gets done at the MBTA Holiday Meeting. This year was no exception, as nearly 120 MBTA members, scholarship recipients, family and friends gathered December 12 to network and share holiday well wishes at the Black Bear Inn in Orono.
 
The annual event marks the culmination of two important MBTA initiatives: the Membership Contest and the MBTA Educational Foundation Super Raffle. In recent years, it also has become a coming out party of sorts for the MBTA’s most recent scholarship recipients.
 
MBTA Vice President Jim Hanley was the evening’s emcee, and he briefed members on the recent board meeting and achievements of the past two months, including voter passage of the $100 million transportation bond in November, an effort that MBTA members worked hard to achieve, and one upon which MaineDOT’s current three-year work plan relied. Hanley also introduced the evening’s speaker, John Melrose of Eaton Peabody who offered members a progress report on the MBTA’s Fix It Now! initiative.
 
Fix It Now!
 
Fix It Now! is a grassroots community awareness campaign undertaken by MBTA earlier this year. As Melrose described it, “We want to grow a coalition similar to the one we built when we spearheaded the Maine Turnpike Widening campaign or support for L.D. 1790: An Act to Secure Maine’s Transportation Future.”
 
Then, Melrose spoke about the need for the campaign, rattling off data his firm has compiled for the MBTA board. That research, which is focused on state and regional transportation deficits, will form the centerpiece of the campaign outreach. And, by Melrose’s count, there are many transportation deficits in Maine, all the result of long-term underfunding of the state’s transportation infrastructure.
 
Maine’s bridges are eight years older than the national average, and Maine has a significantly higher percentage of structurally deficient bridges (15 percent) and functionally deficient bridges (18 percent) than the rest of the nation. Maintenance of Maine’s roads, too, has fallen behind. Nearly 30 percent of the state’s priority 1 and 2 highways and 40 percent of priority 3 highways are in poor or unacceptable condition. That takes a toll on the people who drive on those roads, according to Melrose, with the crash incidence at 75 percent higher on the worst ranked roads.
 
Simply put, said Melrose, “roads that have been fixed up are distinctly safer than roads that haven’t.”
 
Then, Melrose talked about the funding situation, with fuel tax revenues and state funding declining. Most stark among the data collected by Melrose for the Fix It Now! campaign is how state priorities have shifted away from transportation over the past three decades. In 1975, Melrose found, the state dedicated more than 25 percent of state revenues to its transportation system. Today, Maine spends less than 10 percent of state revenues on transportation.
 
“It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see why we’re in the pickle we’re in now,” said Melrose, “We would have been able to put another $8 billion into the system if revenues had kept pace with inflation.”
 
Melrose also pointed to recent successes that are helping – the change in the Maine State Police funding split between the Highway Fund and the General Fund, a change that MBTA members have fought hard for over the past several years. Also passage of a $50 million GARVEE (grant anticipation revenue vehicle) bond by the state legislature and a $100 million transportation bond by voters in November. And he praised MaineDOT’s efforts to economize, streamline operations and take advantage of special funding opportunities – such as being in line to receive reallocated Federal Highway Administration funds that had lapsed and gone unused in other states.
 
Melrose concluded with a call to action, saying that MBTA is working now to build a statewide coalition to change how we pay for Maine’s transportation infrastructure – especially important as federal CAFE standards kick in, calling for more fuel-efficient vehicles and further undermining the effectiveness of the fuel tax.
 
Drumroll, please
 
Throughout the evening, Jim Hanley offered updates on sales of Super Raffle tickets leading up to the drawing of the winning ticket. There were about 40 tickets still to be sold at the beginning of the meeting, and as the number of remaining tickets dwindled, excitement in the room grew for the final drawing, with everyone wondering who would be the winner of the grand prize – a $7,000 trip to anywhere in the world. By the end of dinner, thanks to the generosity of MBTA members and friends, every one of the 500 Super Raffle tickets had been sold.
 
Before the Super Raffle announcement came the annual wrap up to the Membership Committee Contest. This year’s contest was a cliffhanger, with more than 75 percent of the new members recruited in the last 10 days of the campaign. Led by Membership Committee Chair John Sturgeon of Sargent Corp., the committee had set another strong goal: to bring in 25 new corporate members. By contest end, they had recruited 34 corporate members, along with 21 individual members, two municipal and two association members.  
 
That is a remarkable achievement and the MBTA owes a big thank you to the committee that worked tirelessly right up until the end of the contest to make it happen. Sturgeon presented awards to his top four recruiters at the meeting and the whole committee received a raucous round of applause for their Herculean efforts (you can read more about the membership campaign bulletin in this issue). The Membership Contest winners announced were: first place, Glenn Adams, Sargent Corporation; second place. Jason Mallett, The Lane Construction Corporation; third place, Jay Shorette, Dirigo Slipform; and fourth place – Mike Pelkey, E.J. Prescott. Many thanks to the winners – and all the committee – for your amazing efforts.
 
Then came announcement of the 2013 Super Raffle winners: Be Schonewald of Schonewald Engineering was the grand prize winner (when her name was announced, a cheer rose from the audience); Mark Pendergast of Salmon Falls Nursery won second prize (a $500 L.L. Bean gift card); and Greg Sanborn of Baker, Newman & Noyes took the third prize (a $250 L.L. Bean gift certificate).

Paying it forward
 
This year, as in the past, the MBTA Educational Foundation committee did a remarkable job selling tickets. All 500 tickets sold out by the time of the drawing. Everyone on the committee helped out, with two standouts: Committee Chair Paul Koziell of CPM Constructors sold more than 100 and Bruce Hubbard of E.T.T.I. sold more than 200 of the 500 available tickets. Bruce was honored for his sales feat, but he decided to pay it forward, drawing the names of three scholarship winners who were at the Holiday Meeting to share his prize. The lucky students were Corey LaRue, Casey Cobb and Yi Peng, who each received a $50 L.L. Bean gift card.
 
The spirit of giving was in the air, and when it came time for the 50/50 Raffle, the winner Donna Oxley, of BBSC, CPAS donated her $211 in winnings back to the MBTA Educational Foundation scholarship fund. Thanks, Donna!
 
About the speaker: John Melrose is a senior consultant with the Eaton Peabody Consulting Group. He began his career with the Maine Municipal Association as director of community development and later formed and operated his own consulting business, Maine Tomorrow. He served as MaineDOT Commissioner during Governor Angus King’s administration. Currently, John consults on policy for the MBTA and other clients including the American Council of Engineering Companies of Maine, the Maine Waste Water Control Association and the Maine Service Centers Coalition. He holds a bachelor of arts in public management and a master of science in community development, both from the University of Maine.

Super Raffle Winners
  • Grand Prize - $7,000 trip to winner’s choice - Be Schonewald, Schonewald Engineering
  • Second Place - $500 L.L. Bean Gift Certificate - Mark Pendergast, Salmon Falls Nursery
  • Third Place – $250 L.L. Bean Gift Certificate - Greg Sanborn, Baker Newman & Noyes
 
Membership Contest
  • First Place - Glenn Adams, Sargent Corporation
  • Second Place - Jason Mallett, The Lane Construction Corporation
  • Third Place - Jay Shorette, Dirigo Slipform
  • Fourth Place - Mike Pelkey, E.J. Prescott

50/50 Raffle
  • $211 prize - Donna Oxley, BBSC, CPAS (guest of John Sturgeon)
(Thank you, Donna, for donating your winnings back to the MBTA Educational Foundation scholarship fund!)
 
Scholarship Student/Family Hosts
In addition to our sponsors, we had the following companies who also hosted scholarship students and family members: Bruce and Crystal Manzer of Bruce A. Manzer, Inc.; and Paul Koziell of CPM Constructors.
 
Pathfinder Sponsors
  • Chadwick-BaRoss
  • Bruce A. Manzer Inc.
  • Sargent Corp.
Innovator Sponsor
  • Dirigo Slipform

 


Organically grown

The Rowley Agency expands its service and business the old fashioned way– one client at a time

It is a cold and snowy New England winter day. Undeterred by the snow and ice, Dan Church has made the trip from Concord, New Hampshire to the company’s Maine base of operations in Portland’s Old Port district. It’s a trip Church, CEO of The Rowley Agency, has made many times since he took a leadership position at the agency in 1991.
 
Inside the offices, Rowley’s Maine staff is gathered around a conference table, talking about the economy, changes in the region’s insurance industry and prospects for the Maine construction industry. Since the insurance agency was founded in 1966, Rowley has maintained close ties to the construction industry, and today it accounts for more than half of the firm’s business.
 
Church, like many of his firm’s construction clients, is guardedly optimistic about the year ahead. With passage of the $100 million transportation bond in November 2013 and a recent surge in commercial construction, he believes the industry is experiencing an upswing.
 
One-on-one
 
As a seasoned veteran of the financial services industry, Church understands the value of the long view. He joined Rowley in 1970, just four years after Joe Rowley founded the agency in Concord, New Hampshire. Church was fresh out of the Navy having served two tours of duty in Vietnam.
 
He became president of the firm in 1991 when Joe Rowley retired and was elected CEO by the firm’s partners in 2004. Gary Stevens, who has been with Rowley since 1980, stepped into the role of president that same year.
 
Over the years, Church has seen many things change in the business, but one thing he believes has remained constant. “Despite all the new technology and innovations we’ve seen, it is basically the same process it was 40 years ago; it is relationship based. Our job is to get to know the client and what they need. That fundamental relationship with the client is very important.”
 
That long view and emphasis on the human side of the business has served The Rowley Agency well. When Church joined the agency in 1970, the agency had four employees. Today, the firm has more than 50 agents and support staff, including five based in Maine. It is among the top agencies in the region. Rowley provides contract and other surety bonds, employee and executive benefits, commercial insurance, risk management and claims management for business clients throughout New England.
 
In a strategy to help clients as they expand their businesses and take on projects outside of New England, Rowley joined Assurex, a network of 600 independent agents and brokers worldwide that was originally established in the 1950s. That alliance has come in handy more than once allowing Rowley to have a local broker contact for their clients on a world-wide basis.

The Maine thing
 
Since the 1980s, the firm has had a strong presence in Maine and the Portland office has an experienced team that is well known on the local scene. Hughes, a senior vice president, has been with Rowley the longest; he joined the company in 1984 and founded the company’s Portland base of operations. He got his start in Maine, learning the business while working at Maine Bonding and Casualty.
 
Christine Holman, vice president and partner, manages all of the administration and quality control of Rowley’s Maine operations.
 
John Harbottle, a vice president and partner joined the firm in 1986 and specializes in commercial lines. Gary LaPierre and Mike O’Brien, both account executives, joined the firm in 1998 and 2007, respectively. O’Brien is the Portland office’s bond specialist with over 20 years experience in the field. The newest member of the Maine team is Bobby Donnelly, who joined the company as an account executive in 2013.
 
The five have a close-knit working relationship, and it is easy to see how their ability to step in where needed and share the load is central to Rowley’s success in the region.
 
“This is a team effort and we work as a team,” said Hughes. “If you call and John isn’t available, Gary is. That’s important, because time is of the essence and clients need answers and solutions, and those needs have to be satisfied.”
 
“We all like each other, and there’s no competition among us,” said Harbottle, adding that most important is making sure – whether it is researching a new policy or managing a claim – the job gets done well.
 
As the insurance and bonding market has grown increasingly competitive, the firm has stayed on top of technology and followed an innovative path to customer service. Fifteen years ago, the company made the decision to combine its support staff and customer service operations for New England under one roof at the company’s headquarters in Concord. That has proven remarkably efficient, enabling the staff to share research and expertise.
 
 “We realized about 15 years ago that if we are going to do this and do it well, we needed to specialize and that is a real advantage for our clients,” said Harbottle.

Growing ‘organically’
 
The emphasis on developing good client relationships has been all the more important for the agency as it has navigated through recent challenging times marked by consolidation in the insurance industry and contraction in the commercial and construction markets. That the region’s economy is rebounding from the recession that hit New England hard in 2008, is evidenced by Rowley’s growth.
 
One thing Church and the other insurance professionals gathered around the table do not see in Rowley’s future is a merger or acquisition, like those that have happened to other agencies frequently over the past decade. The company is unabashedly proud of its independence – it is one of the largest independently owned firms in northern New England.
 
Hughes labels Rowley’s measured and thoughtful expansion “organic growth” and contrasts it with the current stream of agency mergers and acquisitions that have narrowed the field of choice for business clients looking for insurance and bonds. “This is hard work – finding a customer, working with them and making them more than a single policy or a one-time transaction,” said Hughes.
 
Another important part of the growing “organically,” according to Church, is staying involved in the community and investing in the issues and causes that help strengthen the region. The firm is active in many regional industry organizations, including the MBTA. Harbottle currently is a member of MBTA’s board of directors and also has served on various committees including the Convention and Infrastructure Development committees, as well as Membership.
 
The company will be celebrating its 50th anniversary in June 2016, and Church, Hughes, Harbottle and the others gathered at the conference table are eager to put clients’ and friends’ minds to rest: there is no acquisition or other major disruption on the horizon.
 
“There’s nothing but ‘more of the same,’” said Church. “There is no reason to change.”
 
FMI: Founded in 1966, The Rowley Agency is one of the largest, independently owned insurance agencies in northern New England. Information at www.rowleyagency.com.
 

 

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