Meet Shelly

Shelly is the Volunteer Coordinator and Plant Administrative Assistant at the bottling facility in Poland, Maine
A helping hand.I guess I’ve always liked the idea of going where I’m needed. As our factory’s volunteer coordinator, part of my job is listening – understanding the needs of the food bank or other organizations we’re partnering with, and making sure our volunteers are there to get it done. We’ve worked on all sorts of things at the food bank: facility repairs, yard clean-ups, building shelving for food storage, painting and replacing windows that needed some love and food distribution. It’s a lot, but somehow it never feels like enough.

Our team has made an incredible impact, and together we really make the food bank shine. A better looking facility helps build morale, and helps build even more outreach in the community. And that’s something I take a lot of pride in.

Al is the Transportation Resource at Poland Spring
Every team needs a cheerleader.

Every year, I count down the days until the Dempsey Challenge. It’s an incredible fundraising initiative that includes a combination of biking, walking, and running over the course of two days in October. It raises money for the Dempsey Center – a facility dedicated to improving the healing experience for those impacted by cancer, free of charge. That’s something I’m afraid I know a lot about. My wife is currently fighting it. And sadly, it’s a fight my father lost.

So rather than let that bring me down, I cheer on those who bike, race, and walk towards improvement.

I volunteer and organize the efforts to make sure everyone participating feels like they’re being cheered on. I help stock our Poland Spring cheer station with food, music, and plenty of water and swag. I probably get a bit too into it by dressing up in a costume to match the theme (I make a mean Wonder Woman), but it’s all for a good cause.

Jesse is a Transport Driver for Poland Spring
It’s a matter of pride.

I drive trucks for a living. My cargo is Poland Spring water, and I deliver it all over the Northeast. But in the winter of 2016 it was something else entirely. I was selected to be one of ten drivers to embark on a special journey, leaving my regular shipment behind and instead heading out on the road carrying 4,000 wreaths as part of the Wreaths Across America project.

But I wasn’t the first. I greatly respect the three drivers that participated before me, and we’ve all been proud to represent Poland Spring in the convoy to Arlington. Mike Lachance, with over 30 years of dedication to Poland Spring and a veteran, was the first to participate in 2013. Scott Edwards and Brett Hinkley, both with over 20 years at the company, took on the honor the next two years.

After talking to the guys, I knew this was going to be a memorable trip, so I invited my teenage son to ride with me. We started off in Columbia Falls, Maine, and drove all the way down to Arlington National Cemetery. All in all, it took us a week to get down there. We stopped at VFW and American Legion halls to honor local veterans lost to war with wreaths, and to thank those organizations for their support. We also stopped at schools to teach younger generations to remember the fallen, honor their service, and to learn the value of freedom. And everywhere we looked, people were waving American flags in support. The whole experience left me with an overwhelming sense of pride that I’ll never forget.

Shelly is the Volunteer Coordinator and Plant Administrative Assistant at the bottling facility in Poland, Maine
A helping hand.

I guess I’ve always liked the idea of going where I’m needed. As our factory’s volunteer coordinator, part of my job is listening - understanding the needs of the food bank or other organizations we’re partnering with, and making sure our volunteers are there to get it done. We’ve worked on all sorts of things at the food bank: facility repairs, yard clean-ups, building shelving for food storage, painting and replacing windows that needed some love and food distribution. It’s a lot, but somehow it never feels like enough.

Our team has made an incredible impact, and together we really make the food bank shine. A better looking facility helps build morale, and helps build even more outreach in the community. And that’s something I take a lot of pride in.

Terry is the Technical / Operations Manager at the bottling facility in Kingfield, Maine
Protect and serve.

For more than 15 years, I’ve balanced my time working for Poland Spring with my time as a volunteer firefighter and EMT. That means I have to be ready at a moment’s notice to drop everything when the call comes in. A fire doesn’t happen on our terms. So morning, noon, or night, I keep my gear nearby, either in my car or by my bedside, so I can be at the firehouse within 2 minutes of getting the call.

And the folks at Poland Spring support me all the way.

If I get the call, they allow me to take it. They’ve also gone above and beyond in helping the firehouse get the gear we need to get the job done with donations for equipment, supplies, and of course plenty of water.

Kirk is the Warehouse Resource for the bottling facility in Poland, Maine
Trust the Journey.

You never know where life is going to take you.

I was an athlete, then a police officer in Philly, and then in the service in Iraq. But in 2009, I was injured, and life started over.

I had to take everything I learned and transition my skills into the civilian workforce. Instead of letting that get me down, I got to work. I moved to Maine to work at Poland Spring and started focusing on what matters: moving forward. So I found a way to do that, literally. I started mentoring and coaching young athletes, channeling all that I had learned – as an athlete, as a cop, a veteran – and help train the next generation to push themselves forward. To be their best selves.

I coach track & field and football, but above all I try to be a positive role model. I help the students learn how to be leaders on the field so they can take that confidence and become leaders off the field.

Pete has been with Poland Spring for over 31 years. His current job is Team Leader – Production

Looking out for your brother or your sister, that’s what safety is all about.

I am very fortunate. I’m going to stand on the soapbox for this a little bit: First, I’m proud to be an American. We’re free. A lot of people have given the ultimate sacrifice for us to be free, and that’s the most important thing we have as citizens of this country. Then, of course, comes family; it’s not about the cars, it’s not about the trucks — although those things are good, it’s actually your family. And you don’t have to be blood to be family.

As you go through life, friends that have stuck with you through hard times are still there. Nobody goes hungry. Nobody goes without. And as you live in a location you get to know your neighbors and the community. You understand what really needs to be done. If somebody’s struggling you try to help. You just do it. And it’s the same at work. Safety at the plant is number one. You take care of yourself, and someone next to you.

We start all our meetings off with a question or two about safety, and we do SBOs [Safety Behavior Observations.] I try to be proactive in the safety committee. That’s ongoing and the subject always changes because the equipment changes. We do safety walks and make sure everybody knows what they are doing. You might see someone doing something a little out of the ordinary, so you go in and coach them. That’s open to everyone in the facility. We can always stop for safety. We can always take time to discuss it. The company promotes it, and that’s a good thing.

You come to work whole, and you leave whole

Of course you watch to see what people are doing, especially the new hires. Even though they’ve been trained, until they’ve done it a few times, you really don’t want to take chances. That’s no fault to anyone. It just takes time, and a little patience. People operate the machines, but they are not machines. They have strengths and weaknesses, and they may not know their weaknesses. There’s a lot to learn, so we talk to people. Communication is the key. Everyone knows safety comes first. If you explain it, and demonstrate it with the equipment, that makes them feel comfortable. Everybody needs a little support.

At Poland Spring we have a really strong safety program: it’s deep, and it’s intense.

What you do is you come to work whole, and you leave whole. And the people that you work with do too. We all go home in one piece. That’s what looking out for your brother, or your sister is all about.

Starting on the frontlines at age 23, Chris has worked at Poland Spring for 18 years. He is now the factory manager at Poland Spring bottling.

Why am I Proud?

Poland Spring Bottling is the original Poland Spring factory in the state of Maine. I’ve been with the company 18 years, and I’ve been the Factory Manager here for just over two. Working for Poland Spring is only the second job I’ve ever had.

I worked in manufacturing for a short stint right out of high school, in a business that ended up closing. At 23 years old I was out of work and I had a young son at home. I came across an ad for forklift drivers for Poland Spring, so I went to apply. I didn’t have the qualifications for that job, but I knew then that I wanted to be part of that business.

As luck would have it another opening at the site came up, and it was around leadership. I really enjoyed working with people and helping them make a new day easier. I thought, “this might be my way in.” Lo and behold, I got hired at Poland Spring as a supervisor on the second shift. That was 1998.

Since then I have held a different role in this company every 18 to 24 months. I’ve got to do everything: I’ve worked in manufacturing, I’ve worked in logistics, I’ve worked in the warehouse, and on tankers and transportation. It’s been a process of continuous learning and improvement. Then, two and a half years ago, my dream opportunity came along. Factory Manager at Poland Spring is the job I’ve always wanted, and I got to do that.

My friends and peers in other industries have bounced around, relocating from job to job. It’s rare that I run into somebody that has been with a single company for decades. In this building, and in this company, it is common. In my opinion, a big part of the reason is that the people who work here appreciate the level of skill and knowledge they gain, and the responsibility they carry in being part of this business.

My two boys are 19 and 17. The only thing they’ve ever known is: dad works for Poland Spring. They know that there’s always Poland Spring in the fridge. When their little league teams need water, they know to call dad. And everybody knows that their dad works for the water company. It’s kind of cool.

I feel that I’m setting a good example to the boys, about being proud of what you do and being loyal. Working hard and getting where you want to get to, that is possible. I tell them all the time: dad’s got his dream job. They’re both getting ready for their college experience and all I want them to have is what I have, which is to get up in the morning and look forward to what I’m going to do today. Whatever your career is to be, you’ve got to enjoy it. I think about what I am going to do next week, and I get excited. I always have.

In 2018 we’re going to have 100 employees that have been here more than 20 years.

When I first started here I felt I was in over my head. But once I got my feet under me I began to see what the brand was becoming. We were a small business, now we’re a powerhouse in the beverage industry: Poland Spring is the only regional brand on the top 10 beverages list in the United States; the number one Universal Product Code scanned in New York City and the flagship brand for Nestlé Waters North America.

Why am I proud? I’m proud of what we have accomplished as a company. I’m most proud of our employees. I’m proud that in 2018 we’re going to have 100 employees here that have been here more than 20 years. There’s two employees in the building who worked in the original bottling plant — that is now a museum. We have people here who have been part of our evolution from a basic mechanical process to a state of the art facility. They’ve seen this brand explode. They’ve lived it, and they’re here. And I know they feel the same way I do.

I’ve been here almost twenty years now and I feel I can do another twenty, easy. I can’t imagine working anywhere else but Poland Spring.

Heather is the Community Relations Manager for Poland Spring. She has lived in Maine all her life, and worked for the company for 15 years.

Anyone would be drawn to work for a company with a heritage like ours.

A Mainer is a specific type of person; you can tell us by the way we talk, by the way we dress, and by how friendly we are. But when it comes down to it, you could ask any Mainer and they’d all agree on one thing: you can tell us by our work ethic. The Maine character is that hard working traditionalist, that friendly face: and those are qualities you see in each one of our employees.

The Poland Spring Brand is iconic to the state. When I was little, I was very familiar with the water; I felt like it identified Maine. Whenever I would travel, I was so proud to tell people my home was close to the original source of Poland Spring. I had no connection other than just living near it, but I wanted to share that. And people got it: “You live next to Poland Spring? That’s really neat!”

That really goes back to what originally drew me to work for the company: I was 19 years old. The mother of one of my childhood friends worked for Poland Spring. She spearheaded the original bottling plant and spring house restoration project. And soon after its completion, she asked me to work for her at the museum. The moment I stepped foot on the property, I was blown away. I fell in love with the history.

As my role evolved, I had the opportunity to give tours to the public. People had a lot of questions about bottled water, and specifically about Poland Spring because of its recognition across New England. So we developed an education program, going into classrooms and teaching students about water and the environment.

We are fortunate to have a great team of hydrogeologists and third party consultants that not only monitor our spring sites on a regular basis, but also the bodies of water surrounding the sites, to make sure our operations are not harmful to the local environment.

One of the activities we have incorporated into our environmental education curricula is a bio-monitoring program that is also conducted at our spring locations, called ‘rock bags’. Literally it’s a bag of rocks placed into a body of water to collect the macro-invertebrates. After about a month, the bags are pulled and students pick through the rocks looking for creatures. . They find dragonflies, mayflies and other organisms that tell us a story about the health of a body of water. Then the kids classify the macros and are able to determine what classification the water is.

It’s a fascinating industry with a lot of exciting work that goes along with it. You wouldn’t think it would be; we put water in a bottle. But the company has such a background and belief in their product that you can’t help but be proud and want to share that with people.

There were 25 employees when the company first began bottling water in 1845. It was a male dominated industry, and they were required to shower every morning – not like you or I would shower at home, they actually had to shower inside the facility, put on their white linen uniforms and take the staircase down to work on the bottling room floor. What that showering represented was the quality of the product. They took every step possible to ensure the purity of the product. And it was recognized worldwide.

Famous people flocked to Poland Spring. There was a grand hotel here, and it was well known at the time that the spring water had curative qualities. Those who were known to frequent the resort, and drink the water, raved that they had never tasted such a pure tasting source before. In addition to drinking the water, there was a spa on the property where guests bathed and showered in, you guessed it! Poland Spring water. Visitors couldn’t help but fall in love with our water.

Today we’ve grown into an industry employing over 800 Maine people statewide and sourcing water from 8 springs throughout Maine. We value the quality of the water and are just as dedicated as those who had worked in the facility in the early 1900’s. That heritage, that obsession, that extra step that goes into caring for the source, is something I’m passionate about. I truly believe in our product and I know the rest of our employees do too.

Mark is a natural resource supervisor for the Poland Spring brand. He has been with the company for 16 years.

I wouldn’t trade jobs with any other person in this company.

I’ve lived here since I was three years old so Maine is my home. I have a great job. The woods, the streams, the sky and the animals are the four walls of my office.

When you live in Maine, you can’t help but love nature. It’s very important to me that the beauty of the state stays the same. We have beaches, we have rocky coastline, we have mountains — we just have this beautiful surrounding. It’s nature at its finest. I think that’s why we have such great tasting water.

Caring for the spring water resources is a top priority. At Poland Spring brand, we collect spring water out of the aquifers. Every month, we go out and compile a battery of data about the health of the aquifers and the watersheds and study it. We also provide this data in reports that are sent to town and state officials. These monitoring efforts ensure that our operations do not have an adverse impact on the natural environment.

It takes a team of skilled people who care about Maine’s environment to care for the resources. I get to work with some of the smartest scientific minds here in Maine; be it a geologist overseeing the water level of the aquifers, a biologist who studies the macro invertebrates in the streams to make sure that the ecosystems are staying healthy, or a forester who manages our land. It’s like being in science class: every day I learn something new, and it’s all about protecting the environment.

Just as it is important to maintain the water as a resource, it’s equally important that the ecosystem and biodiversity are not negatively impacted by what we do. We have very extensive monitoring systems in place and each site’s monitoring plan is unique. It could be stream-gauging the inlets and outlets of the watershed. It could be collecting rock bags, looking at the biodiversity of the bugs that are clinging to those rocks. As a company which cares about sustainability, we work to keep the biodiversity of these ecosystems healthy.

I love working for Poland Spring. It’s a Maine brand with Maine values, those being: we care about what goes into the bottle, we care about the health of the resources and we care about nature. We understand the importance of being sustainable. I hope that people who drink the Poland Spring brand in New York and Boston understand how pristine the water is, and where it comes from. There’s a lot that goes into caring for that clean, crisp spring water that New Englanders love.

I feel blessed to be a steward of this natural and bountiful resource so future generations can enjoy Poland Spring brand water just like people have for over a hundred years. And every day is a different adventure out in the woods. I’ve seen deer, I’ve seen owls, I’ve seen moose, and bear… I get to see the beauty of Maine, and I get paid for doing it. I wouldn’t trade jobs with any other person in this company.