This week, the Buzz is expanding, hiring and on a nationally ranked cleaning spree.

You can almost smell the Windex.

First up: The Strainrite Companies in Auburn has leased 10,000 square feet of warehouse space a few miles down the road to make more room for increased production at its First Flight Drive headquarters. The company has installed a one-of-a-kind high-tech mesh tubing line machine and plans to start a second shift, hiring 10 to 11 people.

The Strainrite Companies President Alan Lapoint with the company’s new mesh tubing line machine, which took roughly a year to design with a company in Germany. Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal Buy this Photo

President and CEO Alan Lapoint said the company had been growing and needing to expand through automation before the pandemic, securing a $100,000 Maine Technology Institute grant to cover about one-third of the cost of the new equipment in 2019.

It took almost a year to design and then build it in Germany, arriving in Auburn in late 2020.

“The upside of automation, it allows you to grow with the same number of people but you can pay them more because the productivity is higher,” he said. “This will increase our production capacity for making liquid filter bags.”

The food and beverage, medical device and pharmaceutical industries are some of Strainrite’s largest customers. It currently has 75 employees.

Like at most companies, Lapoint said, orders slowed in the second quarter last year but by the fourth, things started to pick back up.

“The vaccine played a huge role,” he said. “I think it gives people an idea there’s light at the end of the tunnel, even if we’re not sure how long the tunnel still remains.”

Braced for havoc

Sargent Electric Company, based out of Pittsburgh, with offices in Indiana and Wisconsin, has leased 13,000 square feet at 45 Alfred Plourde Parkway in Lewiston for an expansion into the Northeast market, according to Nick Lucas, an associate broker at The Boulos Company.

“The company sees tremendous growth opportunities in the New England region and this property’s centralized location, ample site storage and other building attributes are exactly what they need now and for future growth,” he said.

Both Lucas and Chris Paszyc represented the landlord, D. Gendron Construction.

According to its website: “Severe weather and natural disasters often occur without notice. At Sargent Electric Company, our crews and equipment are ready to be deployed whenever and wherever havoc strikes. We are equipped to handle emergency storm response services 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.”

Seems like they picked a nice emergency stormy state.

Something coffee this way comes?

Auburn Marketplace LLC bought the 5,500-square-foot former restaurant space at 1777 Washington St. in Auburn from Cardinal 6 Maine LLC for $675,000, according to a Mainebiz item this week.

Broker Karen Rich, who with Cheri Bonawitz at Malone Commercial Brokers represented the buyers, said Tuesday that the Fireside Inn was not part of the sale, just the former restaurant and reception area for the motel.

She said she understood that the building was going to be either entirely renovated or taken down for future development.

Glen Holmes, Auburn’s director of business & community development, said he’s heard the purchase will create three retail spaces, one of them potentially being a Dunkin’ Donuts relocated from next door.

It’s at the foot of the busy Maine Turnpike Exit 75 intersection, so we’ll all just have to keep driving by and waiting and seeing.

The website Ibotta ranked the increase in cleaning supplies spending nationwide during the pandemic, comparing June-December 2019 sales to June-December 2020. Maine had the 16th highest increase. Map courtesy Ibotta

Scrubbing away the pandemic

Last week it was makeup. This week, website Ibotta scoured the country’s cleaning supply purchases for the last seven months of 2020 and compared them to the last seven months of 2019 to see which states had the largest year-over-year increase during the pandemic.

Kansas had the largest increase, leaving Ibotta to declare it the top state with the cleanest homes. Kentucky had the smallest change. Maine landed toward the top at 16th.

Quick hits about business comings, goings and happenings. Have a Buzzable tip? Contact staff writer Kathryn Skelton at 689-2844 or [email protected]


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