JAY — James Barker was 14 when he showed up at his family’s business in North Jay and saw all kinds of white bags on the ground.

He asked his father, Steve Barker, about them and was told, “We are going to start selling wood pellets.”

“I had never heard of wood pellets,” James Barker, 21, of Turner, said. “I thought the guy was crazy.”

That was seven years ago.

James Barker believes they sold 30 tons of pellets the first year, and the business has grown to sell thousands of tons a year, he said.

“Our numbers tell us we are the biggest independent dealer in Maine,” he said.


He has learned a lot about pellets and what is a good quality product to sell to customers.

Barker, a senior studying business finance at the University of Maine, is now director of operations and sales for Barker Enterprises Inc.’s Wood Pellet Warehouse on Route 17 in North Jay. The business has a satellite location on Route 4 in Turner.

The company, which was started by his parents, Steve and Ida Barker, of Turner, continues to be owned by them. His father works for him and is in the truck on a daily basis, delivering pellets and interacting with customers throughout the state from Calais to Kittery. His mother keeps the financial books.

“We make a great team,” James Barker said.

The business is expanding into selling bulk pellets with a focus on residential home delivery under his watchful eye.

“Within the area there has been a huge push for pellet boilers,” he said.


An exterior silo storage unit that can hold 56 tons of pellets was installed Thursday at the North Jay warehouse.

James Barker handles all management and coordination of deliveries from Orono. All phone calls are forwarded to him and delivery schedules are distributed to drivers electronically. The company has three trucks and two seasonal and two part-time workers, not including family members.

The company will have a truck with a pneumatic trailer system to deliver bulk pellets, just like oil is delivered, James Barker said. It should be in use in August.

Barker grew up in Jay and was in the first class to graduate from Spruce Mountain High School North Campus in 2012. He played football and basketball in high school.

“Through sports I was very competitive. I didn’t play so much with talent but with heart so that is what has made me successful,” he said. “I’m a very driven and outgoing individual. Not many kids would work 80 hours a week.”

He started helping out at the family’s redemption center when he was in the fifth grade.

“What drives me is achievement. I want to be the best,” he said.


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