Recently, at one of our Tuesday morning shop meetings, Ethan announced that our air compressor had died the day before. He had been keeping an eye on it for quite some time; giving it little fixes and repairs as needed, allowing it to limp along. But now it was, indeed, dead.
The air compressor sends forced air throughout our shop to power all of our pneumatic tools, such as hand sanders and our CNC machine. Without the compressor, we can’t do any sanding, we can’t use our wide-belt sander, our CNC and some of our clamping tools. Heck, we can’t even dust ourselves off properly. More than a day without our air compressor makes our work uncomfortable and sluggish. Ethan had already gussied up a much smaller compressor to ‘make-do’ until a new one arrived, but he warned Saer and Josh, “Only one person can be sanding at a time, and we’ll have to take turns using anything that uses the lines [the compressed air].”
Having just purchased several new machines for the shop, and having not added a new air compressor into the budget for this year, I really thought Bill would be upset. But instead, he smiled and remembered aloud that he had purchased that air compressor 25 years ago, for his first workshop in Poland Spring, ME; “I guess I’ve gotten my monies worth.” Right after the meeting, he made a call and ordered a new air compressor.
The original air compressor was purchased from Maine Air Power in Auburn, Maine. Bill called Maine Air Power to order the new one. He says he didn’t even think for a moment about calling anyone else.
Maine Air Power is a family owned business, celebrating 30 years this year. Opened in 1984 by Bruce and Sylvia Morse, Maine Air Power specializes in industrial/medical air compressors and vacuum systems for clients in Maine and all of New England. The Morse’s son, Barlow, joined the business as the first employee when he was 25 and now he and his sister, Andrea Bjork, own and run Maine Air Power while their parents enjoy a retirement siesta in a warmer climate.
Bill purchased his first air compressor in 1988; one of the first major tools Bill purchased for his brand new business. Barlow Morse remembers that he and his father installed that compressor in Bill’s brand new shop in Poland Spring. Bill remembers the Morse’s being very attentive and very easy to work with. Since then, Bill’s barely had to contact Maine Air Power. A few times Bill has called Barlow for advice about piping air to new machines from the compressor, but never regarding the faithful compressor itself. The air compressor didn’t have any major issues in its 25 year lifespan.
For those who want to know, it was a Quincy Airstar, splash-lubricated, 5 hp, single phase compressor with an 80 gallon tank. Our new compressor is the same, just a newer model.
When Bill called Barlow about a new compressor, Barlow had a brand new version of the same model in stock and ready to go. It was delivered the very next day and installed and working within a few hours. We were able to dust off, get back to work and back up to speed with barely a hiccup.
We always want to work with local businesses when we can. One of the things Bill has always loved about his work is the relationships he is able to form with clients and vendors. It’s very comforting to be able to call on a vendor after 25 years, knowing they are still there, they’ll remember you and they’ll provide you with the same great service they did a quarter century before. We sometimes joke that some might not consider it a good business practice to sell a product that never needs to be replaced. But we do. And Maine Air Power does.