Weld welders ship first trailers

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A group of Western Mainers had reason to celebrate Tuesday. In Weld, Nichols Custom Welding Inc., shipped its first 12 fuel trailers, all destined for U.S. military use in Iraq.

That’s a dozen down and about 200 to go. The size of the order landed by the small company is a good problem to have, but a problem nonetheless.

Not only must the work be done on time, the firm also won’t get paid by the federal government until all the fuel trailers are delivered.

That’s caused a cash crunch at the company, and President Gil Reed has been working hard to find loan money to keep his welding units sparking and arcing.

The town of Wilton has agreed to serve as a conduit for an interim financing loan from the Maine Department of Economic and Community Development. But Reed still needs a bank to back the loan.

We trust a local bank will step up to the plate.

“We fought like cats and dogs to get to this place,” Reed said Tuesday. “We still want to maintain the Wilton trailer company, but we also want to get out into the world,” he said.

Good for Reed.

How many times have you heard people question what the state is doing to bring business to Maine, particularly rural Maine? How many times have you heard that Maine needs to enter the global economy?

And, how many times have you heard all the excuses: We’re at the “end of the line.” It’s too expensive to manufacture in Maine. And we don’t have the skilled workforce.

Well, Gil Reed has had the ambition and fortitude to bring the business to Maine. Eventually, his small firm may be asked to build another 840 trailers for the U.S. government.

That’s the kind of contract that can put a large number of skilled people to work for a very long time.

The first tractor-trailer load of fuel trailers went out Tuesday with the crack of a champagne bottle on the truck’s tailgate. It was a proud moment for Reed and his employees. May there be plenty more.

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