WINSLOW — McCormack Building Supply has endured fire and pandemic, and by the end of the summer, things should be just about back to normal.

After operating out of three locations since the October 2019 fire ravaged the business, McCormack’s owners said construction crews are making strong progress at the company’s original site at 8 Lithgow St.

Vice President Steve Farnham, who owns the business with his father, Duane, said Monday he expects the business will be back under one roof by late July or early August.

“I could probably talk for hours about all the things that have gone on,” Farnham said. “We’re excited to be back in one location. We’re excited to have our store be new. Hopefully, it’s worth the wait, so to speak.”

Black smoke from the blaze could be seen for miles during the fire last fall, but there were no injuries. Deemed a third-alarm fire by Winslow Fire Chief Ronny Rodriguez, the fire destroyed McCormack’s main building and damaged the rear building.

The cause of the fire was never determined. The Office of State Fire Marshal moved on from the case, which remains “open.”

Although the fire damage was extensive, the business never closed. In fact, the company began delivering materials and building products the Monday after the blaze.

McCormack Building Supply reopened more extensively less than two months after the fire at three locations in Winslow: The main sales area and office next to Pleau’s Market at 10 China Road, a mobile unit designated for shipping and sales at the original location and the old Allsco USA Building Products building at 20 Lithgow St., where Maine Crisp Co. is expected to move later this year.

Reconstruction of 8 Lithgow St. broke ground in mid-October, a year after the fire. The Farnhams said the new structure will eliminate the need for auxiliary locations.

Steve Farnham, left, co-owner and vice president of McCormack Building Supply in Winslow, and his father, Duane Farnham, co-owner and president, are rebuilding their business after fire tore through their business at 8 Lithgow St. in October 2019. The new construction in the background, photographed Monday, will house pine boards and vinyl siding. Rich Abrahamson/Morning Sentinel Buy this Photo

The new construction includes many code upgrades and improvements, including restrooms and a ramp that comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Because the business is located in a flood zone close to the Kennebec River, it had to be made flood-proof. The concrete slab on which the building sits is 3 feet thick, and the walls are 10 feet tall, 10 inches thick and made of concrete on the first floor.

Steve Farnham declined to say how much the rebuild cost.

“The big one was the concrete and the walls to flood-proof it,” he said. “Where there are doors and windows, we have to have flood barriers. In case of a flood, we will attach floor barriers over openings and that will keep water out.”

McCormack Building Supply sells construction materials, power tools and kitchen and bath amenities. The business also provides drafting and design services.

And while the coronavirus pandemic has affected many people’s buying decisions, it has not been terrible for McCormack’s business, according to Farnham.

“I think we were fortunate that the building material industry was deemed essential right from the beginning,” he said. “We did all the protocols that we needed to do and everyone else was doing, but we stayed open and business has been good pretty much right straight through.”

Fire engulfs McCormack Building Supply at 8 Lithgow St. in Winslow on Oct. 11, 2019. Taylor Abbott/Morning Sentinel file

Farnham credited customers for remaining patient as McCormack worked out the logistics of operating out of three locations. He also credited the community, which lent a helping hand early in the rebuilding process.

Just after the fire, Winslow High School raised $7,500 for the business through a can and bottle drive. And Winslow Congregational Church raised $1,140 to benefit McCormack’s employees.

The business received $224,900 in Payment Protection Program loans, according to the federal database. As a result, McCormack did not have to lay off employees. In fact, it added a couple of workers. And when the business is under one roof this summer, those employees will be kept on and more will likely be added, according to Farnham.

“I think we did what the loan was meant to do: Keep our employees,” Farnham said.

And Farnham said he and his family appreciate those employees.

“The building itself is much less important than the people that we employ,” Farnham said. “The biggest takeaway is that our company is our employees, and no matter if we’re working out of three locations or one location, if we have the right employees, which we do, then we’re successful.”

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