BROOKS, Maine (NEWS CENTER) -- Once featured in Martha Stewart magazine -- now unrecognizable -- business owner Peter Baldwin is hoping to rebuild Baldwin Apple Ladders from the ground up.
A Monday night fire destroyed 200 finished orchard ladders, his building, and machinery.
"I guess there's a term: surreal, might apply," said Baldwin.
Open since 1984, Baldwin has produced more than 30 thousand orchard ladders at his Brooks business.
A useful tool for farmers, the ladders were known for their durability and signature style.
"Peter's developed a tool that actually has an aesthetic," said friend Vernon LeCount. "Peter has done what Steve Jobs has done with the computer."
The Fire Marshall was not able to determine the cause of the fire due to the extent of the damage.
Baldwin believes it started in the machinery.
Without much money coming from insurance, he is cautiously optimistic about rebuilding the business -- even 30 years into his career.
"My dad's 97 and he is still farming and playing golf, so I'll probably have the chance to be active for a few more years," said Baldwin, adding that his customers can expect more ladders in the future because "they won't let me off the hook that easy."
Because he purchased logs locally, hired local employees, generated transportation jobs with shipping, and had customers nationwide -- the effects of the fire are far-reaching.
"It may not seem like the loss of one manufacturing facility is a big deal, but it does spread across the state of Maine," said LeCount.
Donations to help Baldwin rebuild can be mailed to:
Baldwin Apple Ladder
Camden National Bank
156 Main St
Belfast ME 04915