RUMFORD – Craig Wade is pleased to be back home and doing a job he loves.

The 2005 Region 9 metal trades graduate works just a few miles from his Peru home at Northwest Precision Inc. in the River Valley Technology Center.

The business is owned by Jon Cantin of Peru.

It’s this chance for young people to work in their home area that River Valley Growth Council director Diane Ray hopes will be expanded by other entrepreneurs.

Business has been good for Cantin since he moved his machinery into the tech center in 2000. It’s been so good that within a few weeks, he plans to move the entire operation about a block away to the former Central Maine Power Co. building.

“We’re thrilled that Jon is “graduating” from the incubator. At the tech center, small start-up businesses grow, then move out,” Ray said.

The tech center is looking for an entrepreneur who wants to start up another metal works business. The incubator provides shared services for new businesses, which cuts costs, and Cantin has agreed to help a new business person with lots of things that are always needed, such as accounting, and how to order and manage, and what not to do.

“There’s a lot of work out there,” Cantin said. “We like to have more businesses around here like us. It’s a misconception that people don’t want similar businesses around them. Manufacturing does better when clustered.”

Ray said a potential entrepreneur may be someone who already operates a small shop and wants to expand.

Cantin’s nearest customer is 40 miles away. The metal parts created in his shop are shipped all over the Northeast. Some are used in equipment for the military that is later shipped overseas. The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have increased demand for parts, he said.

His company receives blueprints for parts, then his employees manufacture them on one of several specialty milling machines that hum all day long. Orders can be from one to thousands, he said.

Wade is one of four men working in the metal shop. He said he likes coming to work, then doing something different everyday. He is Cantin’s most recent hire.

Once the operation moves to the new building, Cantin expects additional employees will eventually be hired. The new building has about twice the space of the current location.

After graduating from the metal trades program at Region 9, Wade graduated from Southern Maine Community College, then went to work for a metal trades company in the southern part of the state.

“Jon had talked to me a couple of times. I missed home. It is definitely nice that I fell into this,” he said.

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