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Chris Wheeler retires from Normandeau Trucking

October 05, 2011
GROVETON — Change has come to Normandeau Trucking, Inc.

On Thursday, Chris Wheeler of Lancaster clocked in his last day of work as the operations manager at the family-owned enterprise that he joined more than 15 years ago in May 1996. A native of Lancaster, Wheeler was in the first graduating class at White Mountains Regional High School.

He served for 23-plus years in the Navy, finishing up as a Master Chief, damage control, in the Naval Technical Education Center in Newport, R.I.

"That was my career," Wheeler said proudly. His wife, Marilyn, also served for four years in the Navy. "That's how we met," he said happily. She retired in June after working first in Superior Court and then finished in Family Court, both at the Cos County Courthouse in Lancaster.

"We moved to Lancaster when I retired from the Navy, and, after renovating the house on Prospect Street, I worked for a year-and-a-half at the Littleton Bowling Center," Wheeler said. "Then I was hired by Normandeau."

Right from the get-go, company president Barry Normandeau gave him the freedom to learn the job, to negotiate contracts both on the spot market and long-term, and to be responsible for compliance, he explained. "I loved the family atmosphere in which nothing was hidden from me," Wheeler said, noting that the range of tasks he handled required keeping a lot of balls in the air at once.

"The economy is still slow, making today's pace a bit less hectic," Wheeler said.

"We're certainly going to miss Chris," Barry Normandeau said. "But we've been planning for this transition for four years."

His brother, Dennis Normandeau, who had a highly successful career in the music industry, will take on Wheeler's duties.

"Dennis already had a great overview of operations due to his long history here in the family business as well as at other trucking companies," his brother said. "Over the last four years he has handled moving and stone coordination for Normandeau Stone and McCormack/Whitco Memorials, and he will keep those responsibilities."

Wheeler and his wife have purchased a very comfortable and up-to-date doublewide trailer with an added sun porch in a 350-unit retirement community in Leesburg, Fla., where they plan to spend most of the cold-weather months. "There is a clubhouse, docks, and pool, lots of fishing, and a range of clubs and classes to enjoy; it's right on Lake Griffin, the second largest of the Harris Chain of Lakes and the 3,000-mile-long Intercoastal Waterway," Wheeler said. "It's 40 miles from Disney World. Costs are reasonable; we pay a lot fee and $11.20 a month in property taxes."

They'll miss regularly seeing their daughter Kimberly Wheelock of Groveton, who teaches at the Groveton Middle School, and her husband Chris, as well as their two local grandchildren: Jordan, who now works at Nordic Construction in Berlin, and Jena, a GHS sophomore who plays both soccer and basketball.

Their other daughter, Victoria Schultz, lives in Michigan and also has two children: a 14-year-old daughter, Chelsey, and an 11-year-old son, Cody.

Wheeler said, "We're going to have a new way of life."

Martin Lord Osman
Salmon Press
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