RUMFORD — Five years ago, Stephen Cureton of Rumford and Jim Gilbert of Wilton were among the 130 hourly and salaried paper mill employees laid off from the NewPage paper mill.

Upon learning they were losing their jobs, Cureton and Gilbert took the skills they had used at NewPage during their years of employment and used them to create their own company, Allied Electric.

Cureton was later rehired by NewPage and despite attempts to keep Allied Electric running, the business fell by the wayside.

“Once I was rehired by NewPage, I tried to continue the business for awhile, but it got to be too much,” Cureton said. “There’s a lot of overtime at the mill, and if I had kept Allied Electric running, I wouldn’t have any time to see my family. I decided to just focus on NewPage.”

However, Cureton said he recently learned that he would be among the 120 workers that will be laid off from NewPage in mid-February as a result of the mill’s No. 12 paper machine shutting down.

“When I heard that there were layoffs on the way, my first thought was of Allied Electric,” Cureton said.

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Though a specific date has not been set for when the NewPage workers will lose their employment, Cureton said that with the help of fellow mill worker Todd Malley, who will also be laid off in mid-February, Allied Electric will start again.

“I’m already spreading the word, passing out business cards and publishing advertisements in the local papers,” Cureton said. “The first time I did this, I was nervous and afraid to venture out on my own but, after I thought it over, I realized it would be fine.

“This time around, a lot of those fears were gone,” Cureton said. “I’m still nervous, but I know that things went OK last time. The economy seems better than it was before, so I’m just glad to be able to use the skills I’ve built over the years to start my own business. Not everybody is that lucky.”

Cureton said that Gilbert, the co-founder of Allied Electric, is no longer involved with the company, as he took a job in Portsmouth, N.H.

“He tried to stay involved with the company and work here on weekends, but it was just too much work for him,” Cureton said. “This time around, I’ll have Todd to help out. He has quite a lot of experience, which is a good thing to have when venturing out on your own.”

Cureton said heading into self-employment for the second time is leaving him nervous but excited and unsure of what will happen if NewPage were to ask him back in the future.

“I’m not sure what I’d do if they asked,” Cureton said. “If this works out good, I may want to just keep it going. I’ve seen how things go at NewPage and how they’re struggling, so I guess I’ll just see how everything goes first.”

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