By Jim Contino, Verso Fiber Supply Director
William Gardner got his start in the forest products business back in the 1970s by building roads and hauling wood for Great Northern Paper Company. As his business expanded, they built the Chip plants in Dolby and Chester in the late 1990s. In 2001, they bought and rebuilt Chester Forest Products and then the Houlton chip mill in 2006. They also have a forest land ownership company with company-owned logging operations.
Today they have become a family-owned and fully integrated forest products company that is active in land ownership, logging, sawmilling, chipping and trucking. They are nominated for the large trucking company award because it is the company’s trucking strength that allows all aspects of these businesses to be effectively linked together.
Maine is unique in having many independent chip mills that provide raw materials to pulp mills. W. T. Gardner & Sons owns and operates four of them that represent an important part of wood supply to Maine mills. According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, they have 54 trucks registered and at least 33 employee drivers that haul for them. These trucks are on the Maine roadways every day delivering raw material to mills. The trucking part of our business has eroded to become quite difficult during the recent years, but W.T. Gardner seems to have a knack for retaining a strong fleet of trucks and drivers that allow effective supply chain links over long distances. This source of long haul chips has been very important to the restarted Paper Machine No 3 at our Androscoggin Mill in Jay.
If you were here earlier today, you heard me challenge everyone in the conference to take actions to strengthen the supply chain in support of recovering markets. W.T .Gardner has already done this and it makes me proud to call him a supplier. With that in Mind, I would like to ask Shey Gardner to come up to accept the award and say a few words. Shey is Tom’s son and Bill’s grandson. We are very lucky to have this third generation Gardner entering his family business.
Tonight I am presenting the Maine Forest Products Council’s Outstanding Trucker Award for 2019 in recognition supply chain excellence where an outstanding trucking fleet is able to connect short haul purchase points to long haul mills, the Maine Forest Products Council is proud to present this award to: W.T. Gardner & Sons.