Darrell Tibbetts stands in front of one of his trucks and a few of his many horses at his business in Livermore on Wednesday morning. Andree Kehn/Sun Journal

LIVERMORE — As a logger and then a trucker, Darrell Tibbetts has had a front-row view of the paper industry.

“I use to haul out of Bucksport and Madison, I used to haul out of Otis, but they all closed,” said Tibbetts, 51.

Even at those still making paper, he said, “every mill changes a little bit every year — one picks up and one goes lower.”

When Pixelle Specialty Solutions made the call last month to restart the Jay mill after a massive explosion using trucked-in pulp to make paper, Tibbetts got to work.

“I bought two (three-axle tractor-trailers) within 24 hours,” he said, and he has built two more since.

More axles mean more pulp in heavier loads.

“The quicker you get the pulp in there, the more paper they’re going to produce and I’d be able to haul the paper out,” Tibbetts said. “Keeping real busy. I think I’m hauling more now than I was for them.”

Tibbetts, who grew up in Farmington, started logging young.

“My father cut wood and his father,” he said. “My first truck was a Mac when I was 21.”

He hauled his logs to paper mills and log companies, all in Maine, and eventually transitioned to just trucking.

New England Public Warehouse is Tibbett’s Trucking’s largest customer, moving paper products between mills and warehouses with a crew of eight drivers covering about 100 miles.

“I do the shorter (runs) just in case I have to fix a truck or something happens,” he said.

His days start early, and not on the road but in the barn, feeding five Belgium draft horses at around 4:30 each morning.

“My father always worked in the woods. When I was a kid, he showed me how to do it with horses a little bit,” Tibbetts said. “I think that’s why I’ve got all the draft horses, always had horses all my life.”

In the summer, he and his draft horses compete at local fairs.

“We run paper seven days a week,” he said, “and I work the horses seven days a week.”

He has another three race horses that live off-site, raised by him and then trained by others.

Tibbetts has drivers that have been with him for a long time, one as many as 28 years. Adding more tri-axles to his fleet was a way to make sure they stay busy, he said, and help the mill keep going. They are hauling pulp out of North Anson and the Sappi mill in Skowhegan.

Adding a third axle to a tandem trailer adds to its capacity. “It allows them to haul from (a total weight) 80,000 to 100,000 pounds,” he said.

With his different drivers, the company is hauling to the Jay mill seven days a week.

He runs Tibbetts Trucking with his wife of 24 years, Jessica.

“Just being able to keep jobs for everybody in our community, that’s huge,” she said.


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