BINGHAM — The problem with having more than 100 pieces of road paving equipment, some of which weigh more than 85,000 pounds, is finding a building large enough to hold them.

Paving company Bruce A. Manzer Inc. has paved roads in more than 40 Maine towns over the last 15 years. This year the business employed about 60 people and will take in roughly $13 million in gross sales.

But it wasn’t until August that owner Bruce Manzer finally found a building large enough to house about 75 percent of his front end loaders, pavers, asphalt rollers, milling machines, bulldozers, excavators and portable crushers.

Manzer, of Anson, has bought and is renovating Scott Paper Co.’s former maintenance garage at 399 Main St. into a heated, secure home for his equipment.

With about 33,000 square feet of occupiable space, plus a large, heated barn in back, “It’s everything we could possibly want it to be in regards to size and shape,” Manzer said.

Previously, his large construction pieces, plus about 100 other pieces like conveyors and office trailers, were scattered at different locations in Anson, much of the time exposed to the weather.

“We’ve never really had a good, productive place to work,” he said.

Now, he has storing and maintenance quarters, room for offices, and he is converting one area into a ventilated space to paint equipment.

The building was vacant for several years after previous owners failed to run a successful hardware store, he said.

He had to repair/upgrade electrical wiring and plumbing, put in a security system, and install a wood pellet boiler to heat the entire space. After months of renovations, he’s nearly done.

Manzer is used to taking the initiative. When he started his business in 1996, “I had absolutely nothing except for a payment book from Walter Hight for a one-ton truck,” he said.

He took in $60,000 in gross sales that first year from whatever job he could find; he paved driveways and sidewalks.

His second year, his gross sales topped $1.1 million because of “hard work and perseverance,” he said.

This year, his company completed 13 state projects.

The work is “hard, hot and long,” he said. Over six and a half months of the construction season his employees often put in 80 hours a week. He employs about 14 people in the winter to fix and maintain the equipment for the following year.

Manzer received media attention in September when he offered to give the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs space in his building so it could run a medical clinic and continue to provide care to more than 400 veterans from three counties. Otherwise a mobile clinic in Bingham was scheduled to close.

The VA Maine Healthcare System ultimately decided to keep the mobile clinic until a study can be completed to determine the most efficient way to provide medical care to veterans in the area.

Still, Manzer said, “You get back what you give.”

His company has volunteered to resurface the running track in Salem Township-based School Administrative District 58. It has helped SAD 74, based in Anson, complete a drainage project. And it has donated to maintain several Little League fields.

One day, he said, he might find an affordable building that’s large enough to house every piece of equipment the company owns.

“Someday I’d like to get it all in one place, just to see what it looks like,” he joked.

Until then, though, he said the space he has now is a big — and Manzer knows big — step up.

Erin Rhoda — 612-2368

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