Maine Urban Timber Company Is Making Forest Products Without the Forest

The Gardiner company is turning what would-be waste wood into things of beauty.

By Adrienne Perron
Photographs courtesy of Maine Urban Timber Company
From our October 2021 issue

The huge wooden slabs that Niles Krech and Stephen Pracher mill in their Maine Urban Timber Company workshop, in Gardiner, make beautiful tables, bar tops, headboards, and more. They also sequester loads of carbon that would have ended up in the atmosphere had Krech and Pracher not saved their source trees from the chipper, the landfill, or the firewood pile.

That’s where most downed urban trees end up, whether they’re felled by arborists, blight, or storms. After Krech and Pracher built a sawmill together in 2019 (just for fun, Krech says), the woodworking buddies realized that no Maine companies were sourcing wood from downed trees in residential areas and saw a business opportunity. Now, local arborists tip them off to fallen trees, and Krech and Pracher trailer the wood back to their shop, mill it with one of three custom-built sawmills (one can cut logs more than six feet in diameter!), and kiln-dry it — all while juggling their day jobs, as a detective for the AG’s office and a pharmacist, respectively.

Maine Urban Timber Company sells slabs online (pickup only) and takes orders for custom projects. Last summer, a family commissioned Krech and Pracher to salvage a silver maple that grew too large and had to come down: they turned the tree into a bar top and table for the sisters who grew up climbing it. “People see the beauty in a tree’s story,” Krech says. “We make sure these trees can live on and serve a second life.”