JAY – Celebrating its 10-year anniversary just in time for some cooler weather, a local wood pellet distributor is continuing to grow and eye future expansion.
Wood Pellet Warehouse, located on Route 17 in North Jay, opened in 2007 under the stewardship of Steve Barker. A former employee of G.H. Bass until the 2004 shutdown in Wilton and Jay, Barker purchased an old Bass warehouse and opened a redemption center. Three years later, he expanded his business to distribute hard and softwood pellets for wood pellet boilers and stoves. In 2015, the Warehouse began offering bulk pellet delivery throughout the state, under the management of Barker’s son, James Barker.
Since 2007, James Barker said, the company has seen its business increase from an initial order of 30 tons to the annual delivery of 6,000 tons of pellets and other products to more than 3,000 customers. Barker said that he expected the company to end the year at 6,500 to 7,000 tons of distributed product.
“Once we get this cold weather, the phone starts ringing off the hook,” Barker said.
The Wood Pellet Warehouse employs four, other than the Barkers, and operates out of the North Jay warehouse and a satellite location in Turner. James Barker said that the company intends to open a new location in Winthrop in the next year or two.
The company distributes wood pellets from the Maine Woods Pellet Company in Athens, as well as other products. As Maine’s forestry industry faces a rapidly-changing economic environment, Barker said that wood pellets continue to represent a viable product for a state that is 90 percent forested.
“These are some of the best made-in-Maine products you can buy,” Barker said of the pellets.
Wood Pellet Warehouse has endeavored to separate itself from its competitors – almost any large store will sell pallets of wood pellets – by mastering delivery. The company makes a special point of delivering for free to veterans, and routinely offers a similar offer for different products.
The company is also now distributing bricks – effectively large, softwood pellets shaped into blocks – for use in standard wood stoves. A pallet of the bricks produces the same heat as a cord of firewood, Barker said, and doesn’t leave residues such as creosote behind.