Lewis got into the lumber drying business when a friend, who owned a sawmill near Bangor, asked Lewis to help evaluate three proposals he received from European manufacturers of dehumidifiers for drying lumber. At the time, Lewis had his own HVAC contracting business in Brewer, Maine.
Lewis looked over the proposals, then did some research at the University of Maine on drying pine. He discovered the optimum temperature to remove the water and figured the European kilns would not get hot enough to crystallize the pitch in the wood, leaving it gooey with stains and mold. More importantly, he wanted to produce better equipment for his friend.
Lewis' dry kiln performed so well that when his friend's lumber broker saw it, he recommended it to another company, which soon bought two units. More orders came in and the Nyle Corp. was born in 1977. The name comes from the first two letters of the founder's surnames, Samuel Nyer and Lewis himself.
Headquartered in Brewer, Nyle is the exclusive provider of this kind of equipment. The company is a modest size operation with $4 million in annual sales and about 20 employees.
"Because of our size, we don't have a lot of people to shop around all that much when it comes to vendors and suppliers," he said. "When we find a good supplier, we stick with him."
Super Radiator Coils supplies Nyle with up to 20 standard size coils and custom made units, all from its Richmond plant. In the more than 20 years it has been associated with Nyle, SRC has produced about 8,000 coils, including 2,000 of the stainless steel units.