Our family has been a key supplier to the footwear industry.
Whether it be from our early days manufacturing rubber soles and arches, distributing hand sewing and machine threads to companies around New England, or later manufacturing our own waxed hand sewing threads, we’ve always been a part of the picture and providing companies with what they need.
Alfred “Honey” Baril
Honey has been involved in the shoe industry since he entered the workforce. As a young man he worked at a Massachusetts shoe factory in Lowell. When the factory relocated to Maine, Honey came with it. After moving to Maine, he became the manager of the shoe factory before finding his entrepreneurial spirit as a small business owner in both the rubber and textile industries. With a wide breadth of first hand experience and industry knowledge gained, Honey founded Maine Thread Company in 1965. A legacy that has lived on through his children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren.
The torch has been passed from generation to generation.
And through those years, Maine Thread has adapted and evolved to provide the best products and services that we can. In Maine Thread’s infancy, almost all of our business was geared toward the footwear industry – supplying shoe factories with tapered threads used in hand sewing shoes like loafers, moccasins, and boat shoes.
As the decades rolled on, things began to change and factories moved overseas. As companies moved away, we began exporting our threads across the world to reach our customers, but we also turned the page and began to reach new communities.
In the early 2000s, with the third generation at the helm, we branched into ecommerce with a website and a small selection of products. The mission of delving into retail sales was to give the cottage industries–small businesses and crafters–access to the same top quality threads we sell to companies making some of the best shoes in the world, but on small single tubes for just a few dollars.
The Makers Movement has surged
With that, we’ve seen a surge in the number of crafters in the cottage industries, and not only that, but crafters that value and seek American made supplies. While some factions of our business cater to our large footwear industry customers, our website is here for you–for makers. For those of you hand-stitching in your garage studio, weaving baskets on the weekends, making to order on Etsy, or starting your own small businesses. We want to provide you with the same quality materials we provide to some of the biggest leather goods factories in the world.
With 70+ years in the industry, and almost 60 years as Maine Thread Company has innovated, adapted, and worn many hats, but a few things have always been true. First, we’re a family business; second, we strive to manufacture the best materials; and last, Maine Thread has been, and always will be, Made in USA.
Second Generation. Former Owner and President -- Ron joined the business in 1975 after retiring from the Navy to work with his father-in-law (our founder, Alfred "Honey" Baril). Back in the day, Ron spent a lot of time on the road, calling on customers and meeting with business partners and vendors all over New England, fostering relationships that many of which still exist today, before taking over as President in the early 1980s. For almost 30 years, Ron ran the business before passing the torch to his son Rusty. Today, while he has taken a step back, Ron is still very much a part of the fabric of Maine Thread.
Third Generation, Current Owner and President -- Rusty is our current owner and President. He started working at Maine Thread around the time as his father, Ron. At that time, Rusty was working in the factory during the summers through high school and college. After graduating from UMaine in 1985, he came on full time. He spent his first 10 years working in the factory before moving on to running wider aspects of the business, and officially taking the lead in the early 2000s. Rusty has steered Maine Thread through many adverse events from shifts in the economy and global business, a disastrous flood, many things in between. Rusty can be seen in the office and out in the factory every day, both handling the business aspects and rolling up his sleeves on the production floor.
Fourth Generation -- Jenn is a fourth generation member of our family business. Like her father, Rusty, Jenn also graduated from UMaine before spending the next five years in education as a college instructor, and at the elementary level as a 2nd grade teacher. Jenn decided to leave teaching in 2019 to join the family at Maine Thread where she gets to work alongside her father and grandfather, learning about the business that her great-grandfather started in the 1960s. Like many others at Maine Thread, Jenn wears many hats. From production to product development, and ecommerce to social media, Jenn can be seen all over the factory doing something different each day.
Factory Supervisor -- In the nearly 20 years that Rick has been with Maine Thread, he’s become an expert in all aspects of the thread manufacturing process and is now our factory supervisor. He’s learned a lot himself over the years, and he’s taught and trained many employees that have come and gone during his time. If you’ve got a spool of our twisted thread at home, it’s more than likely that Rick was the one that plied, twisted, backwound, conditioned, and waxed your thread. Rick can handle any job or additional responsibility that’s thrown his way, and he’ll do it well and with care.
Production Team -- Robert has worked at Maine Thread for the better part of the last 8 years. He has worked all over the building during his time here, but is presently a fixture of our factory team. Robert is currently responsible for winding just about every 70 yard spool of twisted waxed cord that leaves the building. Robert also cuts, tapers, and prepares the bulk of our hand sewing thread that gets shipped all over the world to companies that hand sew footwear. While Robert currently works down in our factory, he has had stretches of time where he’ll work upstairs sewing speciality products, winding thread, or helping with whatever else may be needed at the time.
Production Team -- Ron has worked on and off at Maine Thread for many years. Ron’s official job is to run a section of our factory that produces a specialty twisted thread, so he can be seen working our twisters, wax tanks, and winders. Aside from that, Ron will pitch in with any production tasks that need doing, and he’s also our resident jack of all trades. Whether we need a shelf built, a ceiling painted, a jig made, or a special order fulfilled, Ron has the skill to get it done.