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1914-2007, Harold Alfond, philanthropist, businessman and entrepreneur purchased a vacant shoe factory in Norridgewock, Maine along with his father for $1000 in 1940 and sold it 4 years later for $1.1 million. Eight years later, the Harold Alfond Foundation was established, the first private foundation in Maine. Alfond's philanthropy resulted in models of collaboration, teamwork and community involvement gaining national recognition.
In 1956, U.S. Senator Margaret Chase Smith and former Maine Governor and U.S. Senator Owen Brewster sought out Alfond to help create jobs in Brewster's hometown of Dexter, Maine. Alfond purchased a vacant woolen mill in Dexter for $10,000 in 1958 and Dexter Shoe Company was born. At its peak, the company manufactured over 7.5 million pairs of shoes annually. In 1971, Alfond pioneered the factory outlet store at Dexter's Skowhegan, Maine plant. By the 1990s, Dexter had expanded to over 80 outlet stores nationwide, employed nearly 4,000 people and had annual sales exceeding $250 million. Alfond assured Dexter's success by avoiding debt and investing all company profits in state-of-the-art manufacturing technology. In 1993, Alfond sold Dexter Shoe to Berkshire Hathaway.
In 1996, Alfond founded Dexter Enterprises, Inc. to manage his family's philanthropy, investments, legal and business interests. At the time of his death, Alfond was focused on two of his largest projects ever – MaineGeneral Hospital's Harold Alfond Center for Cancer Care in Augusta and The Harold Alfond College Challenge, a model initiative to enhance college opportunities for children in Maine. Alfond committed nearly all of his wealth to the Harold Alfond Foundation to fund charitable causes in the State of Maine for generations to come.
Photo courtesy of Harold Alfond Foundation
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