In the spring of 2020, the architecture and construction company Barrett Made of Portland, Maine bid on a job for Saddleback renovation that would prove to be a pivotal time for Codie Keene, Director of Construction Services.

“We visited Saddleback Mountain and walked the lodge with them numerous times and put together a design proposal and a corresponding price to renovate the lodge mostly focusing on the third-floor pub space, and fortunately enough they selected us, which was awesome. We tend to search for, go after, those really unique one-off projects. You know, not just your everyday cookie cutter project. So this one was really a special one for us to get.”

At the time, he probably didn’t realize how special, as it wound up being the beginning of a new chapter not only for the company of Barrett Made, but also for him and his family.

“I grew up in Poland Maine, and up until about a couple of weeks ago I lived in New Gloucester Maine, and I now live in Sandy River.”

He inherited his passion for tackling projects of all kinds from his father.

“We always worked on the house. My dad’s like a jack of all trades, actually master of a lot of trades. So, I grew up, you know, we were working on our own cars, we raced, we did all of our own construction projects. So I think I have a pretty good handle on the actual work, but fortunately I was able to get a good degree and get into management right away. So I do not work in the field but I’m a very hands on leader. I like to be on the jobsite a lot. I like to interact with the guys and girls on site and offer a lending hand wherever I can.”

While Keene always enjoyed construction, he wasn’t always sure where his chosen profession would land him.

“I went to school at Worcester PolyTech, WPI, it’s in Worcester, Massachusetts, studied civil engineering and I always wanted to get into construction, work with my hands. I never really wanted to be a designer at a computer. So after college I worked for Turner Construction in Boston for a few years, and I decided that I wanted to come back up to Maine. Me and the wife got married and wanted to have kids and I wanted to have them back in Maine.”

Due to the time spent working at Saddleback, Keene saw an opportunity to further his career in the mountain area he had quickly come to appreciate.

“Last year we did the renovation of the lodge. Mostly the 3rd floor pub. So, I was only here part-time. I’d come up once a week. You know, like spend one night, say two days with the crew, and then go back to Portland, and then, through our process working with them, I think they took a liking to how we operate and our efficiency and the quality product we produce, so we started talking to them about projects like the A-frames, the staff house, and there is a mid-mountain lodge project and we really liked working with Saddleback as well. So, it was this winter when we got a thought of the idea of what if we open up a second location rather than commuting from Portland and only to be half way in and I said that I’d love to go all in. So, I asked my boss if that was something he would trust me with and he did. So this winter, past winter, was planning for that.”

Soon after the business purchased and renovated a downtown Rangeley office location on Main St. Keene then made plans to sell his house and just over a month ago purchased a new home in Sandy River.

After the holidays Keene’s wife and children came to join him.

“I’ve got 6-year-old in kindergarten, so he’ll be starting up here in the school district, which is exciting.”

Starting with 2 employees that traveled from Portland during the initial Saddleback renovations, they now have 13 employees at the Rangeley location and are hoping for more.

“I would say that our biggest obstacle that everyone’s facing now, not only in Rangeley is staffing. It’s just the climate of the country that we live in right now. It’s very difficult to find help and even more so in a remote community like Rangeley but I think we’re striving to be an integral member of the community and promote the benefits of living here. I think it’s a wonderful place to live, wonderful place for a family, and there’s money to be made, and there will be more and more money to be made as the beauty of Rangeley grows and reaps the benefit of the mountain reopen again. I think a lot of people, even like myself growing up in southern Maine, you know you had this stigma you know that there’s no money to made in Maine, let alone northern Maine. You know, you basically had to chase that money in the city or something, but I think times have changed a lot. There’s a lot of work from home options nowadays. It’s just a growing economy up here. So, we’re doing our best to pitch that to people that we meet and talk to and through our advertising efforts to let them know that you know this IS a place where you can raise your family and make a living and really enjoy your life. So, hoping we’ll be able to bring an influx of people up here and hopefully can build enough housing for them as well.”

For now he’s focusing on his current Saddleback projects.

“There’s three projects on the mountain we’re working on currently. One is the mid-mountain lodge. That is like a 2700 sq. ft. lodge at the top of the Rangeley lift. So, two-thirds the way up the mountain. That’s being funded by a donor, and it will essentially be a smaller version of the main lodge. It will have food, alcohol, some warm sitting space. That’s a very unique project but it’s very specific to the mountain and just an extension of their current services.

Then down towards the South Branch lift we’re doing a community of 22 A-frames. So single family homes.

Right now we’re finishing 8 this year and the other 14 will be next season. So that’s providing housing, but more for growing families that want a three-bedroom house on the side of the mountain- ski-in, ski-out. Very unique though. Something that all the other big mountains, Sunday River, Sugarloaf, don’t have. You think of a simple A-frame. They are not. They’re very large. They’re grand in stature. Very high-end finishes. I think they’ll be very sought-after homes.

There haven’t been many photos out there. There’s been some renderings from a computer model of/from what we’re building but you don’t really get the scale and the magnitude, like the proximity to the ski-trail too.  We’re talking 20 feet from the ski trail are these giant, tall A-frames, it’s very cool.

The third project is the staff housing. It’s kind of a hybrid of a college dorm, hotel, and hostel.”

Like the A-frames, the staff housing will be ski-in/ski-out.  

“So that will be pretty cool for staff or short-term housing. It’s something a lot of people would benefit from. As soon as mud-season gives way in the spring we’re going to start that.”

He’s hoping the Rangeley location will gain more employees from the area and of course, future work.

“We’d love to get our name out there more and attract more folks from Rangeley, Oquossoc, Sandy River, you know the surrounding towns and we also hope to do work throughout northwestern Maine, whether it be any of the towns around Rangeley. So we’re hoping people see our work and like what we do and reach out.”

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