SIDNEY — Wreaths hang in nearly every room of the log home that faces the highway by exit 120.

The model house is the office of Hilltop Log & Timber Homes, which relocated from Bowdoinham in January. The 24-year-old company will celebrate Christmas in Sidney for the first time this year. It’s also Hilltop’s first Christmas since a fire threatened to wipe out the entire business.

“It was devastating,” owner Dan McKenna said about the May blaze that destroyed Hilltop’s manufacturing facility, next to the model home.

News photos of the damage made it seem as though the entire operation had burnt down, McKenna said. He feared it would turn away potential clients, and the company, which already had to cut half its employees during the economic downturn and couldn’t afford to lose orders.

“We didn’t know what was going to happen,” he said. “We didn’t know if business would keep coming in, but it did.”

The fire started in a kiln for drying lumber and charred the company’s custom-made saws, as well as a shipment of wood ready to be cut for a business in Illinois. Chunks of lumber littered the lawn and soot that had blown through the windows and doors covered the model home.

The biggest challenge was recreating the manufacturing facility. Between cooperative weather and McKenna’s creative thinking, the employees made it work.

Walls made from stacks of lumber and covered with tarps served as makeshift workspace while a new building was erected. At the end of July, Hilltop moved its manufacturing operations back inside. The new metal building is better than the old wooden one, McKenna said, and the company’s insurance covered most of the costs.

“It basically just slowed things down a little,” the owner said about the fire’s effect on his business.

The people who work for McKenna, however, said he downplays the difficulty of dealing with the damage. It was his leadership and even demeanor, they said, that saved the company.

“He’s not one to blow his own horn, but I will,” said Marian Tobin, the company’s receptionist and marketing manager. “He did an amazing job.”

His cousin, who is a salesman for Hilltop, said McKenna’s ability to overcome obstacles is just part of his personality.

“Dan has always been able to take whatever situation happens to come up and make the best of it,” Harold McKenna said. “He’s never been one to dwell on the circumstances.”

The company has 10 employees — down from 22 at its peak — and they include two of Dan McKenna’s brothers, his nephew and his wife, as well as his cousin. Another brother works as Hilltop’s West Coast salesman, but is technically self-employed.

The business started when McKenna, who worked in construction and always wanted a log home, built one for himself in 1986. Then a client of his, who saw the house, asked him to build another.

“It just mushroomed from there, just kept on going,” he said.

A plan book shows 77 log home designs, but the variety of what customers can order is limitless. Though most of Hilltop’s business comes from Maine, the company ships the packages of pre-cut houses all over the country. They range in price from $17,000 for a cabin to $250,000 for a custom-built home.

McKenna, a Gardiner native, started the company at a site just off I-295 in Bowdoinham, so it would be visible to people traveling the state. Then, the trees by the highway grew and began to block the sight line. A couple of years ago, when Dostie’s Log Home Specialties went out of business, McKenna bought its Sidney property and the model log home that sits on it.

Though the house isn’t exactly the same as the ones Hilltop builds, it suits the company just fine, Tobin said. She was looking forward to putting up the final decorations this weekend, before the week’s tours start on Tuesday.

The new location, everyone agrees, is ideal. Tobin said a lot of people who come through the door say they drive by the business all the time and have been meaning to stop.

“We get a tremendous amount of walk-ins,” said Harold McKenna.

An Eastport couple that stopped in Wednesday was looking to sell their house and build in Perry, where they already have land. They were driving by that day and saw the 20-foot sign by the highway. When they left, McKenna said, he was confident he’d see them again.

“They come in curious and leave interested,” Tobin said. “We might not see them again for a year, and then they come back and say, ‘We’re ready.'”