PORTLAND PRESS HERALD DARKROOM
B&M 150th anniversary

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    B&M 150th anniversary - Staff photo by Ben McCanna | of | Share this photo

    This year, B&M hits a major milestone: its 150-year anniversary. The Portland business began on Franklin Street in 1867 when George Burnham opened a food cannery. Soon after, he was joined by Charles Morrill to form the Burnham & Morrill Company. In 1913, the operation moved to the shore of Casco Bay in East Deering where it continues to this day. In this photo, B&M employee Kyle Corbeil uses a hoist to deliver a steel crate with than 100 cans of beans to a pressure cooker, or retort. The 104-year-old facility has 36 such retorts. Each silo-shaped, 10-feet-deep retort can simultaneously hold four crates, where cans are sterilized at a temperature about 250 degrees Fahrenheit for 90 minutes to five hours, depending on the product.

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    The B&M facility -- at 1 Bean Pot Circle, Portland -- has begun affixing labels announcing the 150th anniversary.

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    An undated photo of the B&M facility.

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    For nearly 50 years of B&M's 150-year history, Thomas Coreau has been making beans and, more recently, many of the other products that are produced there. In this photo, the 72-year-old employee pushes an empty bean pot along a monorail system attached to the ceiling.

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    When Coreau started working for B&M in 1967, he made $2 an hour, he said. Today, the starting pay is between $16 and $18 an hour, depending on the job. Coreau now earns top-of-the-scale wage of about $21 per hour. Here, Coreau prepares to wash a freshly emptied bean pot to put it back into service.

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    Alfinodah Fahray prepares to drain the molasses- and cane sugar-sweetened sauce from pots of cooked beans. The sauce is briefly held in 200-gallon kettles then re-added to the beans during the canning process, along with other ingredients.

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    Production supervisor Dave Rickett, a 45-year employee at B&M, cradles dry pea beans in his hands. The beans are sourced from Michigan and Manitoba, Canada, and arrive by truck from in 2,000-pound bags. The beans used to arrive by train, but in fall 2015 the St. Lawrence & Atlantic Railroad discontinued freight service between the Auburn and B&M, the railway's southern terminus. B&M was the sole customer along the 24-mile stretch of rails and it was no longer cost effective to maintain the tracks. Today beans arrive by truck, which has increased costs.

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    B&M 150th anniversary - Staff photo by Ben McCanna | of | Share this photo

    Steam rises from a pot as David Lamontagne pours cooked beans into a chute and down to the canning line.

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    Tim Jordan removes a pot of cooked beans from the oven to be prepared for canning. There are 60 ovens in the century-old facility. The beans are cooked for several hours at 350 degrees Fahrenheit. The cooked weight of each bean pot is 900 pounds.

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    Zoran Krismanovitch feeds empty cans into a conveyor where they are washed just prior to filling and sealing. B&M wouldn't provide an exact figure, but manager Dave Rickett said the system moves thousands of cans per shift.

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    Empty cans whip around a sharp bend in the conveyor system after being washed.

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    Sharon Dube straightens out a long stack of can tops as they are fed into a sealer. Dube alternates her attention between weighing random cans for quality control and adding additional can tops to the chute.

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    Eric Bay pushes an empty, 200-pound steel crate along a rail system to be refilled at the canning line.

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    A forklift delivers pallets of packaged beans to its 40,000-square-foot warehouse. As many as six forklift operators work during a single shift.

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    The century-old B&M facility at the mouth of Back Cove. The Burnham & Morrill Company moved from its original location at 13 Franklin St. in 1913.

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