In 2008 Main Line Fence was proud to be celebrating its 60th anniversary. Ever since we were incorporated in 1948 we have served Maine’s fencing needs while upholding the highest standards in quality. Over the years our dedicated staff has helped Main Line Fence grow to the company it is today and remain the oldest and largest fence company in Maine.
Main Line Fence began as Robbins & White (a structural steel erection company in Portland) that was formed by the partnership of Winston C. Robbins and Lloyd White. The two operated the company from the dining room table of Ken MacCready's house on Raymond Road in Portland. MacCready was in charge of the books while his wife, Ruth, was the secretary. Eventually the company rented a spacious 5 room office at the corner of Main & Dana Streets in Westbrook on the second floor of an old remolded foundry building.
The office furniture along with much of the company's original equipment and scaffolding (which later became a side business of Main Line Fence) was purchased from the old South Portland Shipyard offices which was auctioned off after the end of World War II.
In 1948 Robbins & White started to branch off into the fencing industry, creating a separate division that they named Main Line Fence, Co.. Main Line Fence was operated in the back of the Robbins & White office by Wally Harwood (the companies job estimator and accountant), Wyman Foster (an engineer who did work for both companies) and their superintendent Ed Burns (who in 1957 ventured off on his own and formed Burns' Fencing which is still in operation today). Ruth MacCready often acted as the Secretary-Treasurer and office manager. In 1953 Ken passed away from multiple sclerosis. Loren Malcolm was hired to replace Ken's bookkeeping duties. At this time Larry Berry was hired to perform all the clerical work of the growing fence company. Larry worked for Main Line Fence for over forty years until his retirement in 1995.
As Main Line Fence grew, so did the company's yard and office in Westbrook. They purchased a large equipment barn and storage yard that was located along the Presumpscot River at the rear of Dana Street.
In those days all deliveries of chain link and guard rail materials were unloaded by hand until Phil Cyr and Merile Gagnon (two of Main Line Fence's first crew members, hired in 1956) fabricated a winch hoist for unloading material. They were later joined by Leonard Lagasse, Uncle Armand P. Gagnon, Edgar Morrison, Reggie Benner and Leonard Price (who later went to work for Burns' Fencing). Armand F. Gagnon began working for Main Line at the age of 19, he is now the only remaining original employee.
As Main Line Fence was growing, the original company of Robbins & White began to decline. Robbins & White was focusing on bridge and steel construction, however, in the early 1960's Win Robbins became involved in the installation of ski lifts and tramways in Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont. As a result of this new venture, bridge and building projects received less attention and the original partnership with White was dissolved.
After the passing of Ken MacCready, his wife Ruth MacCready remarried a fisherman named Carl Smith. After the steady decline of the steel erection business, the fence company began to suffer. In 1968 Ruth (now Ruth Smith) convinced Win Robbins to sell Main Line Fence to her. After running the company for a year Ruth, being in poor health, could no longer manage the company and felt that it needed the attention and direction of an energetic businessman.
In 1969 Main Line Fence was sold to Norris Cianchette (Pictured Below) of Cumberland. He purchased nine acres of land in Cumberland and later that year a new office and plant was built by Cianbro. In February of 1970 Main Line Fence moved from its Westbrook offices to its new home in Cumberland, where it has remained ever since.
In the 1970s as the state of Maine began focusing on its highway system, Main Line Fence began to establish its reputation for highway guardrail. Main Line’s knowledge and ability grew rapidly with the completion of several major guardrail projects, including a large majority of the median guardrail on the 109-mile stretch of the Maine Turnpike, as well as the entire guardrail on I-295 from Brunswick to Augusta. During this time, Norris began the company tradition of putting emphasis on employees and equipment, believing that there needed to be careful consideration and organization of key assets to ensure a successful business. In 1976, Main Line Fence hired Ray Clark, who eventually became a guardrail foreman, heading up some of Main Line’s largest and most successful projects.
While Main Line Fence’s guardrail division continued to flourish, chain link began to become another major portion of the business. During the 1970s and 1980s, Main Line Fence successfully completed some of its largest chain link jobs in our history, including the complete enclosure of the S.D. Warren Paper Mill in Westbrook, International Paper in Jay and major security fence projects at the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard, Brunswick Naval Air Station and Loring Air Force Base.
In 1986, Norris retired and was succeeded by his son Rocky (Pictured Below) who learned the business from the ground up. Rocky began working for Main Line Fence in 1969. He worked summers while he attended Lafayette College. Rocky graduated on a Saturday in 1971 and went to work the following Monday. He worked on several of Main Line’s large guardrail projects including the original Maine Turnpike median guardrail. Rocky has successfully guided the company to the position it holds today.
In the early 1990’s, with a decrease in government spending and a lull in industrial expansion in the state, Main Line Fence began to become more involved in residential fencing. The development of Main Line’s decorative wood fence line was greatly influenced by one of its foreman, Jack Kinne, who was hired in 1982.
Due largely to the emphasis on equipment and personnel, Main Line Fence has been able to evolve with the ever-changing industry. Main Line Fence has the expertise to keep up with the trends and technological advancements that come.