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Prominent local businessman’s memoir to launch at Museum L-A

LEWISTON - "Business Boy to Business Man" will be the feature of a book launch at Museum L-A on October 26 from 1:00 to 3:00 p.m. The event is free and open to the public. The book’s subject is a prominent Lewiston business man of a previous generation. Robert “Bob” Verreault founded the Lewiston Machine Shop in 1946. He grew the company from a two-person shop to employing more than 200 as the Diamond Machine Company in the 1980s. In 1975, Verreault was honored by the Small Business Administration when it named him Maine Small Business Man of the Year.

Many will remember the spectacular fire of July 18, 1972, that razed the company’s facility on River Road, destroying months of production inventory that was scheduled for shipping in the coming days—and subject to being turned over to accounts receivable. “I knew that I had lost my building,” reminisced Verreault in his memoir, “but I was determined that I would not lose my company.” Verreault and his staff rebuilt the company, receiving generous help from the local business community. “It was a show of support that could only happen in a community like Lewiston and Auburn. Without my fellow business colleagues, I don’t know if I could have rallied. I’m sure it would have been harder.”

“As director of a museum dedicated to work in Lewiston and Auburn,” said Rachel Desgroseilliers, “I said Yes! right away when we were invited to host this book launch. What better venue in the Twin Cities to celebrate the life of this man who created employment for hundreds of local workers and was an inventor and innovator.”

One of his many inventions and patents was a revolutionary process that installed specialized heels on shoes. Besides shoe machinery, Diamond Machine diversified into high quality snow plows, traction aids, wood stoves, and its most successful business, material handling/conveyor systems.

Business Boy to Business Man is a production of the Memoir Network, a Lisbon Falls-based company that has been helping people to write personal and family stories since 1988. “What Robert Verreault did was outstanding,” said Denis Ledoux, who co-authored the book for Verreault. “Here was a poor boy who had a sense that he would create his own business someday. After graduating from Holy Family School, he refused to go on to high school. Instead he began the work that would bring him to learning to be a machinist and eventually to owning a company.”

The afternoon program will feature short readings by family members and a discussion of work in Lewiston and Auburn in yesteryear. “We hope to generate stories in the audience of what life was like in the area in the 1930-1960 period which was the youth and early adulthood of Robert Verreault,” said Ledoux, who is well known locally for his work helping people to write memoirs as well as for his Franco-American advocacy. This program will be followed by a reception at which light refreshments will be served. Copies of Business Boy to Business Man will be available for purchase.

Museum L-A is located at 25 Canal Street, in the historic Bates Mill at the corner of Canal and Chestnut streets. Attendees are encouraged to park in the nearby Canal or Chestnut Street municipal garages, which are free of charge on Saturdays. For more information about the program, please contact the Museum at 207-333-3881 or info@museumla.org.