Hardwood/Puritan Medical Products honors employees for 100th anniversary

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GUILFORD — For a century the employees have been instrumental in the success of Hardwood Products and the Puritan Medical Products Company. Company officials recognized employees with a 100th-year celebration party on Friday, July 26, the eve of the annual Piscataquis River Festival, near the town athletic field on the shore of the river.

What was founded by Lloyd Cartwright in 1919 as the Minto Toothpick and Specialty Company in Saginaw, Michigan is today the nation’s principal manufacturer of a broad variety of tipped applicators, tongue depressors and other medical and non-medical disposable woodenware and related products. Over the years, as market demands increased, the family business separated into a pair of operating divisions to better serve the two distinct markets. Today approximately 550 people are employed by Hardwood Products and the Puritan Medical Products Company, both located near the end of School Street, with some families having worked for the company for multiple generations.

“Tonight is employee focused, we are celebrating the employees on both the Hardwood and Puritan sides and their families,” said Puritan Medical Products Marketing Manager Virginia “Ginny” Templet prior to the start of the festivities. Templet was joined under the large tent to accommodate the hundreds of attendees by her cousin Megan Templet, Midwest region director of sales, as the two are each fourth generation family members to have worked for the company in its various incarnations.

“It’s our 100th year celebration,” Megan Templet said, with 1,000 attendees expected.

“We’re having dinner, we’re having the Mallett Brothers play, having a big cake, just having fun coming out to enjoy the big celebration,” Virginia Templet said.

“We have games for kids,” Megan Templet said.

“We have raffles, we have awards for people who have worked here for 30 years and up,” Virginia Templet said. “The Red Maple has a beer and wine tent.

“It’s family-friendly, come one, come all and mingle, eat some good food. We just wanted to celebrate our employees.”

During the middle of the evening Templet and General Manager and Chief Operating Officer Terry Young presented plaques to employees for their longevity. They began with Richard “Dick” Williams, who was not present, and his 55 years.

Those having worked for Hardwood Products/Puritan Medical Products for more than 40 years are George Sprague, the recently retired Brad Dean, Nancy Grant, Karen Woodard, Macy Larrabee, Vice President of Operations and third-generation owner James Cartwright, Bruce Stevens, Jean Carter, Jimmy Hunt and Charles “Chuck” Martell.

Employees since the late 1980s were then recognized at the 100th celebration.

When Lloyd Cartwright — James Cartwright’s grandfather — founded the Minto Toothpick and Specialty Company during the Woodrow Wilson administration, the only product being produced was mint-flavored toothpicks. A year after the founding Lloyd Cartwright acquired the Guilford Manufacturing Company, which made wooden boxes for fruit storage. The Piscataquis County facility provided better access to the large source of white birch in Maine after the only supplier in Michigan discontinued operations, as well as direct access to the railroad and the Piscataquis River.

In 1950 the company was rebranded as Hardwood Products and the entire operations moved to the current School Street location. Soon after the move the product line expanded to include tongue depressors, candy and ice cream sticks, dowel products, meat skewers, drink stirrers, and wrapped ice cream spoons. To avoid stagnation and to stimulate growth, Lloyd Cartwright’s son Edgar Cartwright began to pursue a medical products business.

Hardwood Products suffered a devastating fire in 1958, burning down the entire production and warehousing facility. Management, employees and the community came together to rebuild and open a new facility just two years later in 1960. In 1977 a new office building was constructed and in 1985 a 53,000-square foot facility was built for Puritan Medical operations.

A machine shop was added in 1993, two years later a larger warehouse opened, and Hardwood Products operations expanded into an upper level addition in 2010. A machine shop for both businesses opened in 2011 and a year later Puritan Medical began to use a warehouse addition.

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