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Paying Tribute to Paul A. Wescott, August 22, 1931 – August 13, 2013

A damn good sense of direction, and a steady hand on the wheel, for over 30 years

When Paul took the helm in 1977, Howell Laboratories was a small company of “terminal Yankees” trying to make a living in a worn-out 19th century schoolhouse; selling a bewildering array of completely non-related products – everything from optical sensing devices to Navy spare parts, and anything else that “sounded like a good fit” from the pages of the Commerce Business Daily.

But, just a year later, Paul had successfully focused its energies, and Howell had become the US Navy’s primary supplier of air dehydrators, a position it still enjoys.  That change from opportunistic job shop, to a manufacturing company capable of engineering its own product lines was Paul’s vision and the basis of Howell’s success today.

Under his leadership, the company rapidly outgrew the old schoolhouse, and in 1980, built a modern, efficient manufacturing facility, expanding it once again, in 1985.  Howell purchased Shively Labs in a forward-looking move to diversify its customer base into commercial markets, not only protecting the interests of the company, but also bolstering its ability to maintain traditional products during cyclical periods of military contraction.  Not only did the company survive, but under Paul’s tenure, Howell saw growth and further refinement, evolving from “dehydrator specialists” to “fluid processing specialists.”  Throughout it all, the common denominator was Paul, steering the way.

Paul played a lot of roles in the company, but at the core, his dedication to the company, its employees, and the Lakes Region was always evident.  Through the years he saw other manufacturers close down or relocate, but Paul never considered moving the company, as he knew this part of the state was home to our employees.  And in 1995, when even the concept of an ESOP was quite rare in this area, Paul knew it was the right course to pursue. Implementing a change of that magnitude was not easy, but he backed the effort in every way possible, thereby providing all employees a more active role in their company.

Paul was a typical Mainer: complex, and multi-faceted – a lawyer and a Civil War historian; a linguist and an avid reader; a devoted husband and father; but most of all, he was truly a man of character, and we will miss him.

“What I mean by character is a firm seasoned substance of soul.  I mean such qualities or acquirements as intelligence, thoughtfulness, conscientiousness, right-mindedness, patience, fortitude, long-suffering and unconquerable resolve.”

Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain, from his speech at the dedication of the 20th Maine Monument at Gettysburg, 1891