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Dragon Products owner announces plan to close Thomaston cement plant – Press Herald

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The company cited escalating operating and logistical costs for the plant's closure, which will result in the loss of 65 jobs.
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The Dragon Products cement plant in Thomaston. The owner, Giant Cement Holding, Inc., says phased layoffs of the roughly 65 workers at the plant will begin in December and conclude by the beginning of 2025. The plant dates to the early 1900s. Courier-Gazette photo
THOMASTON — Dragon Products, a large Midcoast employer and the town’s largest property taxpayer, informed its workers on Wednesday that the company plans to shut down the cement plant.
The company employs about 65 workers. The plant will continue to operate while it processes the remaining product, which could continue into early 2025, although some people will lose their jobs as soon as later this year.
“The facility, which has been operational for almost a century and has been under GCHI’s ownership since 2006, will undergo a gradual process of idling the production operations beginning December 2023. This careful step has been prompted by the persistent escalation of operating and logistical costs, exerting a negative impact on the Thomaston plant’s viability,” Giant Cement Holding, Inc. stated in an email in response to an inquiry by The Courier-Gazette.
“Despite our best efforts to adapt and navigate through these challenging circumstances, we have determined that these actions are necessary for the long-term sustainability of our business,” Vice President of Operations Roberto Polit said in the email.
Jeff Cash Jr., who has worked in the maintenance department for Dragon for eight years, said the workers were called together Wednesday and informed of the closure. He said some employees have worked at the plant for up to 40 years.
The reason for the decision to close is due to the high cost of fuel to operate the plant as well as the fuel to transport the product to markets, Cash said the workers were told.

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Workers will receive severance and those who agree to stay on until the closure will receive retention bonuses.
The phased employee separations are scheduled to commence in December 2023, with the process anticipated to conclude by the beginning of 2025, the company stated.
“We extend our sincere gratitude to all employees who have contributed significantly to our plant in Thomaston,” Polit said. “Their hard work, dedication, and commitment have been invaluable to our operations. We are also grateful for the support and understanding shown by the local community throughout the years.”
Cash said the jobs are good ones but he is not worried, noting that it seems like everybody in the area is hiring workers.
Dragon is the town’s largest property taxpayer, paying more than $1 million to the town annually for the plant, equipment, and its approximately 900 acres.
The company said Dragon is committed to handling the idling of the production operations at the Thomaston plant with “transparency and appreciates the support and understanding of its stakeholders, customers, vendors, and the local community during this transition.”

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The Maine Department of Environmental Protection has two active enforcement cases against Dragon Products for possible violation of air emissions standards at its cement plant.
“The department currently has two active enforcement cases spanning the years 2019–2020 and 2021-2023. These range from relatively minor to significant violations,” DEP spokesman David Madore said July 6, in response to an inquiry by The Courier-Gazette.
The announcement of the two active air-quality enforcement cases comes a week after the federal Mine Safety Health Administration announced that its May 2023 inspection led to 33 citations for safety violations at the cement plant.
The cement plant’s history dates to the early 1900s, according to the company’s website.
In the early 1900s, Alfred Black acquired the knowledge of the first cement plant attempt, and considerable land with significant limestone deposits, creating what became known as the New England Cement Company. For 20 years Black tried to promote the new cement business and attract investors, but was only successful in manufacturing lime, according to the website.
In 1926, the New England Cement Company was sold to the Lawrence Cement Company of Pennsylvania. The first investment by Lawrence was a $4 million-dollar grinding operation, the largest initial industrial investment in Maine to that date. At time of completion in 1928, it was one of the most modern cement plants in the world.

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In 1951, the Lawrence Cement Company became Dragon Cement Company, a Maine corporation. An upgrade to the plant in 1952 doubled the cement production capacity from 1 million barrels annually to 2 million barrels.
In 1956, the Thomaston plant/Dragon Cement Company was sold by the Lawrence Cement Company to American-Marietta Company of Chicago.
In 1961, American-Marietta merged with the Martin Company of Baltimore, to become Martin-Marietta, headquartered in New York.
In 1971, a major plant upgrade by Martin-Marietta, rebuilt into a single kiln wet process operation, with a 500,000-ton annual capacity.
In 1983, after the plant had been closed for a year, Martin-Marietta sold the plant to the Cianbro Corporation, and the Maine construction company who resumed operation under the Dragon Cement name.
In 1984, Cianbro sold the plant to the Passamaquoddy Indian Tribe; this was a Maine investment as required under the 1981 Maine Land Settlement Agreement with the Tribe.

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In 1988, the Passamaquoddy Tribe sold the plant to CDN-USA, a Spanish partnership whose major partners were Cementos Portland Valderrivas and Cementos Lemona. CDN-USA had earlier entered the New England cement market under the name Coastal Cement Corporation, with water terminals constructed in Boston and Newington, New Hampshire.
In 1999, Cementos Portland Valderrivas became the sole owner of Dragon Cement Company and Coastal Cement Corporation.
In 2004, CPV spent $50 million-plus to take the Dragon Cement plant from a wet process to dry process, improving product quality, and again, increasing capacity, according to the company.
In 2007, Dragon Cement Company merged under the Giant Cement Holding, Inc. (GCHI) banner, with Giant Cement and Keystone Cement, with GCHI owned by CPV.
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