Following the commissioning of the Kittery ASU plant in 1985, placing the Airco logo on a storage tank was rejected by the Town of Kittery planning office. The Town sign ordinance did not address tanks and only allowed for placement of company signs and logos below the eaves of a building.
Over the next few years, plant manager George Penrod had made additional attempts with a similar negative response from the Town planning office.
Following Penrod’s retirement in 1989, new plant manager Brian Golightly and regional manager Steve Mitchell continued the attempts to place the Airco logo on a storage tank. In a discussion Golightly had with the Kittery Code Enforcement Officer, the Officer was again quite adamant that the size and placement of advertising logos was strictly governed by Town ordinance and could not be altered under any circumstances. As a side remark, the Officer said that if it was a graphic there was no ordinance on the size or placement. In response, Golightly jokingly said, “So say a giant lobster was placed on one of the tanks, you would be ok with that?” The Officer said that would probably be ok, subject to the approval of the Planning Board.
So the idea was born - a giant lobster as a “Welcome to Maine” symbol on one storage tank and the Airco logo on the other tank. Golightly worked with a graphic artist to create some sketches with various lobster orientations and sizes. The plant employees voted on which design to select.
Once the lobster design was selected, Golightly approached the Town Code Enforcement Officer with the proposal. The Officer supported the idea and agreed that the lobster was a graphic and not a company logo since Airco was not in the business of selling lobsters. Golightly presented the proposal of the lobster and the Airco logo to the Town Planning Board. The Planning Board thought the lobster logo was a great idea and quickly approved the application for the Airco logo.
Once the lobster and Airco logo were finally installed, it was viewed as a great success. However, a week later one of the neighbours contacted the plant to say that the logo looked great but it was a shame that they had installed a “mutant” lobster. The initial lobster only had three pairs of rear legs rather than what lobsters really have –four pairs. The missing legs were quickly added.
Over the years, the lobster has continued to be the symbol of the Kittery plant. It continues to be asked about by customers, visitors, and the community. For over 20 years now it has been a landmark welcoming people to Maine as they cross from New Hampshire into Maine on I-95.
As the plant prepared to install the new Linde logo this fall, there was another brief bump in the road with the Town Code Enforcement Office as the Town sign ordinance still does not address tanks. However, once the past records and history were reviewed, the plant was approved to install the new Linde logo in a size similar to the past Airco and BOC Gases logos.
Since the storage tanks were painted and the new lobster was installed in October, it has even made the rounds in social media with over 800 “likes” on one local Facebook page.