WINSLOW — Less than two months after a fire destroyed the majority of McCormack Building Supply, the business is getting back on its feet, according to one of its owners.

“We have been adding products steadily right now — 95% of everything is back,” said Steve Farnham, who owns and operates the business with his father, Duane.

McCormack Building Supply is currently operating out of three locations in Winslow as its leaders work out a plan to rebuild the original 8 Lithgow St. site. Farnham said he is working with engineers and architects and “exploring all options” as to what a rebuild will look like.

Jordan Cloutier of McCormack Building Supply assists customer Bob Leathers at the temporary site of McCormack’s Building Supply in Winslow on Thursday.

In the meantime, the company opened a hardware store Nov. 11 next to Pleau’s Market at 10 China Road, where Farnham said he expects to stay for six months to a year. That store, which had been vacant for a long time, also houses the company’s kitchen and bathroom display area and office space, which were lost in the blaze.

“We have about two-thirds of the hardware space (we used to have),” Farnham said. “The biggest challenge has been the loss of display space. Our kitchen and bath center is a large part of our business. That was the biggest hit. We have a window (sample), we just don’t have 12 windows (anymore).”

McCormack is using three buildings on its campus at 8 Lithgow St. and 16,000 square feet of newly leased property at 20 Lithgow St. for warehouse space, according to Farnham.

On Oct. 11, a fire engulfed the main retail and office space at 8 Lithgow St., destroying at least five sheds and buildings. Sgt. Joel Davis, an investigator with the Office of the State Fire Marshal, said Thursday there was too much damage to determine the cause and that the office has moved on from the case, though undetermined fires remain “open” by protocol.

Farnham said the 16 employees of McCormack Building Supply continued to do deliveries and special orders, even after losing materials, computers, telephones and physical buildings to the flames. No customer data was lost because all digital information had been backed up online, Farnham said.

“We never closed — that’s something people probably didn’t know,” he said. “The fire was Friday (Oct. 11) and on Monday the 14th, we started working deliveries and helping people. It wasn’t the same type of service, but (we were still operating). Our core customer base has been buying right along. It’s the other people in the community that don’t know we’re open and fully functional.”

Jordan Cloutier, right, of McCormack Building Supply checks out customer Bob Leathers in Winslow on Thursday.

Farnham declined to discuss the total cost of the assets he lost in the fire, and Davis said he did not have an estimate.

“I don’t want to talk dollars,” Farnham said. “I don’t want to get too specific.”

Residents and businesses in Winslow rallied together to help the company reopen a physical shop. Winslow High School raised $7,500 in a can and bottle drive and donations, according to Chris Taylor, manager of Raider Redemption, which processed the returns.

“McCormack’s has really given to the whole school whenever we’ve needed something, so we were trying to give back,” said Pete Bolduc, an assistant football coach, physical education teacher and  community service club adviser at Winslow High School.

“We probably had 60 students show up. The community was just so generous in giving us bottles and donations.”

As an example of McCormack’s giving, Bolduc said that in August, the company donated all the cans of paint the district needed to repaint the football field’s lines and posts.

Winslow Congregational Church, the building supply company’s neighbor on Lithgow Street, held a soup dinner fundraiser that yielded $1,140 for the employees, according to Anna Quattrucci, the church member who coordinated the event. The Proper Pig restaurant in Waterville also held a fundraiser.

“It was really nice to kind of get a sense of what we mean to the community,” Farnham said. “A lot of times, you’re part of the community but you don’t realize (your impact). Then when you see the outreach — it definitely meant a lot to the company and our employees.”

Rick Charity, who has worked as an outside sales representative at McCormack Building Supply for 24 years, and his wife, Jackie, designed shirts for the employees that read: “Bigger. Better. Stronger.” and commemorate the date of the fire.

“We think this speaks volumes about our employees and our current and future plans,” Farnham wrote in a post on the business’ Facebook page.

NLC Ink in Fairfield gifted the first batch of shirts to the company, which later chose to reorder more to “keep the message consistent,” Farnham told the Morning Sentinel.

Farnham said instead of focusing on the hardship the company has endured recently, he wants to “let people know that we’re looking forward to the opportunities that will come from this, and thank our customers for continuing to support us.”

“People say, ‘What can we do for you?'” Farnham said. “Well, give us the opportunity to earn your project. Don’t just give it to us because you feel bad. That’s thanks enough.”


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