Shaw & Tenney, the oldest manufacturer of oars and paddles in the U.S. and the third oldest manufacturer of marine products, turns 150 this year. Started in 1858 as a water-powered manufacturer on the Stillwater River in Orono, Maine, the company has moved twice within the same town and changed owners only three times. Shaw & Tenney has remained much the same business, and is renowned for its quality. In addition to the manufacture of traditionally handcrafted solid wooden oars, paddles and other related items, owner Steve Holt has introduced wooden masts, spars, and flagpoles, and specialty paddles. Also, Shaw & Tenney now offers custom laser engraving on many items – most notably on commemorative paddles for the Marine Reconnaissance units, which honor their members for their service.
Steve Holt credits the company’s longevity to the employees, whose quality, craftsmanship, consistency, and commitment to the customer are first-class: “We’re a manufacturer, not a production company, and making these products takes a lot of hand/eye coordination – the key is wood, but the craftsmen need to know how to respond to wood.
“On a daily basis, we are both excited and honored to carry on the incredible reputation for excellence that Shaw & Tenney has developed worldwide,” says Holt. Its commitment to quality is also reflected in its choice of raw materials that come primarily from Maine. “We get unsolicited letters and comments often, people saying thanks for being what you are, for doing what you do, that we have exceeded all expectations,” he adds.
The Shaw & Tenney website features descriptions and photographs of all products as well as an online store for purchase of most items. The entire Shaw & Tenney product line is on display at www.shawandtenney.com, including specialty items such as boathooks, canoe seats, handmade pack baskets, and marine hardware. A factory showroom at 20 Water Street, Orono, is open most business days.
In celebration of its 150 anniversary, the company is offering a limited edition paddle with laser engraved artwork by renowned canoe builder Jerry Stelmok of Atkinson, Maine.