After 18 months of renovating a place most people would walk away from or condemn, Bob Maurais and his brother dug into the mess and created a beautiful new home for Southern Maine Renewable Fuels (SMRF) on the old site of Heritage Metal Crafts at 354 Gray Road almost across from the Windham Public Safety building. They moved into the building June 1, 2013.
Seeing the need for alternative heating options, Bob and his brother Ed, and Bob’s son Jim started SMRF in 2008. SMRF is a division of Mainely Ticks a company that Ed and Bob own.
SMRF offers bio-products and alternatives to heating with wood. These all natural products are cleaner and take up less than half the space of a cord of wood. The bio logs extend the length of the burn, usually lasting eight hours through the night making it easier to start the fire in the morning with the left over coals.
Right now the wait for kiln dried firewood is between six and eight weeks, according to Bob. Regular seasoned firewood is non-existent. “Therein lies the beauty of the business we have,” said Bob.
On hand right now, SMRF has the equivalent of 80 cords of dry firewood in their storage facility, but Bob guarantees it will go fast. The prices are also comparable with kiln dried wood. A cord of wood is generally $250 to $275, said Bob. Kiln dried wood is over $300. The bio-products are between $289 and $314.
“People love the cleanliness and convenience and it burns hot and slow,” Bob said of his products. “We’re seeing more and more of a trend with the older population.” Bio-products require a lot less work, he said.
Customers can purchase the products by the ton, but also are able to purchase bags individually. “People living paycheck to paycheck come in every week to buy 10 bags. That’s their heat for the week,” Bob said.
SMRF does offer home deliveries, but right now that is suspended due to road conditions. With four tons of pellets or bio-bricks, having it delivered is much more cost effective even with the delivery charge, said Bob.
SMRF offers a discount for new customers and also provides a new customer bundle for bio-products so they can see what works best in their stove. Due to their products and customer service SMRF has seen 20 percent growth last year and 20 percent growth the year before. “People are being educated on the products. They try four bags and say ‘you’re right.’ There is a difference in fuel.”
The most popular products at SMRF are Rio logs and Canawick Bricks and in pellets, the Cubex hardwood pellets and Okanagan softwood pellets. Bob suggests that customers find what works best in their appliance and stick with it.
The big box stores that sell pellets concern bother Bob. “It’s the value of service and quality of the product that distinguishes us from the big box stores,” he said.
The only negative about bio-products is that they can’t be stored outside or “you’ll have an expensive pile of sawdust,” Bob joked.
SMRF also has another facility in on Route 9 in Wells, which is the main office for Mainely Ticks and also a place for customers to pick up bio-fuel.
The SMRF website, www.mefuels.com, is a great place to get information on all of the products they sell and the burn time of different products. Customers can also call Jim at 892-3702.