As president of Patriot Insurance, Lincoln Merrill has seen the insurance company move from offices in Portland to Brunswick to Yarmouth – and that’s just since 2002. Now he’s working with an architect on what will be the permanent home of his company: the Route 1 site currently occupied by the Down-East Village Motel and just a stone’s throw from where both of Merrill’s parents operated businesses in downtown Yarmouth years ago.

Merrill expects to get the permitting process started this spring and hopes to break ground on a brand new office building this summer for his 50-year-old company. A North Yarmouth native, he’s excited about putting down professional roots and ending Patriot’s nomadic existence.

Q: What drew you to the Down-East Motel site? Was it an affinity for the neighborhood where your parents operated businesses?

A: No, although I’m excited about that. We did our due diligence, and this site really fit our needs. It’s close to the interstate, has great visibility, is close to the river and walking trails. It really fits our needs as an employer and as a business.

Q: Will the motel have to be torn down?

A: Yes, we have to demolish the site, including the in-ground pool. We’ll be working with the town to meet the new Character-Based codes [as we design the new building]. The total parcel is 7 acres, which is more than we need, obviously. About two of the acres are close to the river and we can’t build upon those, but we’re trying to plan a building that we can adapt for our future needs as the business grows.


Q: What businesses did your parents operate?

A: My mom ran a retail store in a brick building a couple of buildings down from where Otto is now. She brought in a line of girls’ dresses in the spring and fall and offered consignment items and some dry goods. There were apartments upstairs. My dad had a tax business (nearby). He also worked as a real estate broker.

Q: Why did Patriot Insurance decide to put down roots now?

A: We had been outgrowing our office space and every time we moved, it was awful on the employees and terrible for customers … they start wondering about you. We always wanted a permanent home, but as a mutual insurance company, it’s hard to get the capital. We teamed up with a Michigan company (Frankenmuth Mutual Insurance) that had been in the same place for more than 100 years. The board chair said we should just get our own place. So we started the process.

Q: Any idea the size of the building or projected cost?

A: We don’t intend to move again, so we’re working with the architects to figure the space we need. We lease about 10,000 square feet now, but want more so we can build an exercise center and showers and allow for expansion. We also want to design a building that works with the historic characteristic of Main Street. You’re not going to see some modern, glass thing from us.


Q: And the cost?

A: We’re still working on that. I told the town we would build an attractive building, something Yarmouth would be proud of. But we’re not going to be able to spend $500 per square foot when the average is $180. So we’re working all that out now.

Q: How big a company are you?

A: We have 54,000 policyholders – about 70 percent of our customers are in Maine and two-thirds of our premiums are in Maine. Last year we had revenues of $81 million. We also have 55 employees who come to work every day and another 15 who work from home or out-of-state. That’s why easy access to the highway is important. We have employees who drive from Berwick to the south and from Sidney to the north every day.

If you have a suggestion for Word with the Boss, send your idea to Business Editor Carol Coultas at:

Editor’s note: This story was changed from the original version to correct the number of employees.

Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or login first for digital access. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.