As Luke Brochu stood up, the entire crowd stood up with him, applauding so enthusiastically that they nearly left Brochu speechless.
“You’re going to bring me to tears,” Brochu finally said. “Goodness, gracious, thank you so much.”
Mark Doty, MFPC’s outgoing president and current secretary of the Board, began the presentation with an explanation of what it takes to win the MFPC’s most prestigious award and went on to say why Brochu so richly deserved it.
“The Maine Forest Products Council established the Albert D. Nutting Award in 1990 to commemorate the many contributions to Maine Forestry that Al Nutting was instrumental in creating,” Doty said. “He was, of course, the director of the School of Forest Resources at the University of Maine, Maine Commissioner of Forestry, and incidentally one of the founders of this organization. The award has been presented annually since 1990 to a remarkable group of individuals, each of them truly unique, but with a common commitment to Maine and it’s forest industry.
“The recipient will have demonstrated recognized qualities of leadership and integrity as well as a commitment to the values, both public and private, generated from the working forest. His or her experience – in this case his – will reflect concern for the sound environmental use as well as the economic value of the forest to industry and to the community at large. The plaque that’s being present is on black locust, which grew on the lawn of the Nutting homestead in Otisfield.
“The tree was planted before 1850 by one of Al Nutting’s ancestors – a nice looking plaque. Now for the details. Tonight it is my pleasure to present this award to Luke Brochu. He is certainly a worth recipient and worthy of joining the impressive list of those who have gone before. Among Luke’s accomplishments is that he has led the Brochu family in investing in and bringing back sawmills across Maine. One of those that we saw today on tour.
“He has led multiple industry organizations in the past, including this one. His involvement in Haitian missionary work is incredible and to top it all off he’s one of the kindest people that we know. So Luke, it’s my pleasure tonight to present you this award and I’d like you all to accompany me in congratulating Luke.”
Doty didn’t have to ask twice. The crowd’s standing ovation showed this award had their full approval.
Brochu had not prepared a speech, Doty said later, intending to simply say,”Thank You.”
“But happily he got caught up in the moment,” Doty said.
As he looked out and his family, friends and colleagues of many years, Luke Brochu began to speak from the heart.
“I was really taken aback when I received the phone call as to whether or not I’d be a willing recipient of this honor, of such a prestigious award,” Brochu said. “I’m truly humbled. And as I look around this room I see so many familiar faces who helped me, throughout my career, find the courage to go to these meetings and speak out and be present and accounted for. And it wasn’t easy for me. It was always out of my comfort zone.
“I thank my wife in particular – she always nudged me along and encourage me and made it possible for me to spend time with all of you folks on these different boards. It’s because of you that I was able to be successful in that environment.
“And in my business environment, it’s because of the people who were around me. I was always fortunate to work among a group of people who were very aggressive in wanting to do things right and to get involved with doing sawmilling work in particular. That’s where my heart was as far as my work went. Dimension lumber has always been my real passion. As in any business we get out there and we just do the work that needs to be done.
“I’m fortunate to have two young nephews who are full of – pardon the expression – piss and vinegar and eager to get things done and move things forward
“It’s just been awesome spending a career in this industry. And I can’t encourage you enough to be involved in the Maine Forest Products Council in particular.
“You know a lot of the folks down there in Augusta don’t have a clue what you folks are doing. And we’re all in this together, whether we be a forester, a sawmiller, a landowner, an insurance agent, a real estate agent or in financing. We’re all in this together and in the end it really benefits the whole state of Maine. People who have an opportunity to earn a living from a renewable resource that we cannot only make renewable, but we can make better as we work forward.
“So I encourage you to get involved. I encourage you to encourage young people who are in your businesses to get involved. That is absolutely necessary. Otherwise the folks in Augusta will take this away from you for generations to come and it may never come back. So be involved, participate and encourage others to participate.
“What an honor this has been! I see familiar faces from way back who helped me out. There’s always stuff in business that happens and you turn to people who are in the know and people who can help you and you grow those relationships. And I just thank you so much for this honor.”