Honesty, hard work take Burpee Pond far in life

 

 

LOVE AND HARD WORK — Burpee Pond and his wife, Nancy, have been married for 53 years. In their 70s, they continue to put in a work week at Naples Small Engine. (De Busk Photo)

By Dawn De Busk

Staff Writer

NAPLES — Burpee Pond wasn’t born and raised in Naples — that’s his wife’s family, the Dillinghams, who during the depression sold tracts of their property which became Sebago Lake State Park.

Pond was born in “Farmington, Maine. I am from a family of 14 kids, nine boys and five sisters.”

Pond came to Naples in 1961 to invest in a business, one that he has owned and operated for 55 years, Naples Small Engine.

“I bought the place in ‘62. I bought the garage. It was a CN Brown gas station,” he said.

He learned about the business for sale while pumping gas in his hometown.

In 1958, Pond graduated from high school in Farmington, and went into the military. After getting back from his service overseas, he looked for a job. It was 1961.

“I wanted to be a State Trooper because of the military police. You had to know someone to get in. So, I was helping a friend in Farmington at a gas station, the Flying A. A guy said, ‘Why don’t you get your own gas station? You are doing a good job here.’ I said, ‘Where is one?’ He said, ‘Naples.’ ‘Naples, Italy,’ I said since I just got back from there,” Pond said.

“I had never heard of Naples, Maine. I came and tried it out for a few days,” he said.

“Two years after I came here, my brother Phil started to work with me,” he said.

ANTIQUE CHAINSAW — A reminder of what early Mainers used, the newer chainsaws are lighter and easier to maintain. (De Busk Photo)

Owning a gas station and garage is a good way to meet women. That is how Pond met his wife, Nancy.

“She came over to get gas. I pumped the gas for her,” he said. “We got married in ‘64.”

“I learned how to get the last word in,” he joked.

In 1964, the newlyweds had a home built on the Edes Falls Road.

“Her father built the house. He was a master carpenter, a master plumber and an electrician. He built a lot of houses on Thompson Point and on Tricky Pond,” he said.

Seven years later, their son and only child, Christopher, was born. Chris Pond is the Naples Fire Chief; and along with his cousin Jason, he works in the garage portion of the business.

To this day, Burpee Pond and his wife work side-by-side at the local business.

One recent Friday, Pond talked about the importance of a strong work ethic and being an honest businessman.

Honesty is the best policy — it an old adage that Pond tries to live by.

“You be honest and tell the truth. My father always told us that,” he said. “He had a fifth-grade education but he knew that.”

“Honesty is your best policy on anything going,” he said.

Honesty pays off in repeat customers for the business, he said.

The proof was in the pudding as a customer walked through the door, looking to buy a chain, and commented how he was still using the chainsaw he purchased from Pond six years ago.

“You know that made me proud. Seven years ago, I ran into the guy I used to work for at the Farmington Fair. He saw me and he waved to bring his friends over. He said, ‘I want you to meet one of the most honest boys I met. I could leave him to run my place and not worry.’ He said that in front of every one. That made me feel good.”

Staying true to one’s word is part of honesty — another quality that Pond’s dad instilled in him and likewise Pond passed onto his son, he said.

Pond had the opportunity to put his money where his mouth is. In the 1970s, he was the second winner of the Maine State Lottery, Megabucks.

“In 1975, I took the whole crew to Florida with me. I told them I would if I won the lottery. One of the guys said, ‘You don’t have to keep your word on it.’ I said, ‘The only thing you are worth is your word and my father told me to keep it,’ ” he said.

“They said I didn’t have to keep my word. I said, ‘By golly, I won the money. I will have to pay the federal government. Why not spend it on the people — it’s like a bonus.’

We took them all to Florida. There were 17 of us,” he said.

During his lunchbreak, Pond discussed the differences between small engines 40 years ago and now.

“The newer chainsaws are a lot lighter and smaller,” he said.

“They are much simpler now. It is all electronic. If it ain’t starting, you check the fuel, check the firing, look at the pistons,” he said.

Sometimes, it is a matter of replacing the electronics which can be easier than changing the oil.

“The electronic ignition — it’s so much easier to change. Before you had point condensers that were always going bad,” he said. “It is easier than working on a car.”

“It’s basic common sense. I think the whole world is common sense,” he said.

When it comes to comparing Naples fifty years ago to what the town is like now, Pond said the biggest difference is the population.

“It has doubled. When I first came here, it was 1,500 in the whole town. Now, it goes to 100,000 during the summer,” he said.

“It has grown. There are a lot more people,” he said.

The popularity and necessity of chainsaws, lawn mowers and snowblowers has not diminished over the years.

“We are always busy. That is why I am still working at 77 years old,” he said.

Staying busy falls into that set of standards Pond tries to uphold. Or, it could just be a way to stay sane in Maine.

“If I sat around at home, I’d go absolutely foolish,” he said.

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