Joe McDonnell, president and CEO of Howell Laboratories, says he’d like to add employees at both the Bridgton headquarters and at ODAT in Gorham. Robert Lowell / American Journal

A U.S. Navy and Coast Guard contractor in Bridgton has purchased ODAT Machine in the Gorham Industrial Park and has an eye on expansion.

The Gorham machine shop is now a division of Howell Laboratories Inc., which will keep its new ODAT Division and its employees in Gorham, according to Joe McDonnell, Howell president and CEO.

Howell Laboratories, an employee-owned company, has 53 employees at its Bridgton headquarters and 17 at ODAT.

Pictured at Howell Laboratories’ ODAT Division in Gorham are, from left, President and CEO Joe McDonnell; Kevin Babineau of Gorham, production manager; Rob Prescott of Standish, general manager; and Matt Cataldo of Limington, machinist. Robert Lowell / American Journal

“We’re looking to grow,” McDonnell said. “We’re keeping both facilities. We’d love to add employees in both places.”

Howell Laboratories bought ODAT from company founders Richard and Roxana Pratt of Gorham, who are retiring, March 29. McDonnell declined to reveal the purchase price of the business. The sales package includes the 5.35-acre on Sanford Drive site and building that the town assessed at $2.7 million.

Howell, in business for 60 years, develops and sells equipment for surface ships like aircraft carriers and destroyers. It sends workers to Bath Iron Works to start up equipment on new ships, and sometimes even gets emergency calls from ships at sea. “Supporting the fleet” is what they do, McDonnell said.


Among a range of other work, ODAT, founded in 1992, manufactures parts for Navy submarines. McDonnell said ODAT is a “true machine shop” and “they can do anything on short notice.”

ODAT hopes to expand its business with shipyards.

The shop has a Level 1 certification that the submarine program requires. Their quality of work is “really high,” McDonnell said, and the building, which also has a security classification, has room for expansion.

Gorham Town Councilor Lee Pratt, former ODAT financial officer and the son of the founders, helped with the ownership transition.

“My parents sold because they were ready to retire, and the opportunity with Howell was a perfect fit for the business to continue on and for the employees to have future growth with a Maine-based, employee-owned company,” Pratt told the American Journal this week.

His parents, lifelong Gorham residents, will continue to live in town, although they plan to travel more.

Pratt said he and his brother, Andy, had other opportunities arise during the sale process and found that accepting positions elsewhere was the “right decision for us and our families.”

“Howell labs is a great company, and the choice was not easy to stay or leave,” he said.

Comments are not available on this story.