Sunday, January 26, 2014

Spotlight - Southern Maine Renewable Fuels

“Fueling Maine”

After 18 months of renovating a place most people would walk away from or condemn, Bob Maurais and his brother dug into the mess and created a beautiful new home for Southern Maine Renewable Fuels (SMRF) on the old site of Heritage Metal Crafts at 354 Gray Road almost across from the Windham Public Safety building. They moved into the building June 1, 2013. 

Seeing the need for alternative heating options, Bob and his brother Ed, and Bob’s son Jim started SMRF in 2008. SMRF is a division of Mainely Ticks a company that Ed and Bob own. 

SMRF offers bio-products and alternatives to heating with wood. These all natural products are cleaner and take up less than half the space of a cord of wood. The bio logs extend the length of the burn, usually lasting eight hours through the night making it easier to start the fire in the morning with the left over coals. 

Right now the wait for kiln dried firewood is between six and eight weeks, according to Bob. Regular seasoned firewood is non-existent. “Therein lies the beauty of the business we have,” said Bob. 

On hand right now, SMRF has the equivalent of 80 cords of dry firewood in their storage facility, but Bob guarantees it will go fast. The prices are also comparable with kiln dried wood. A cord of wood is generally $250 to $275, said Bob. Kiln dried wood is over $300. The bio-products are between $289 and $314. 

 “People love the cleanliness and convenience and it burns hot and slow,” Bob said of his products. “We’re seeing more and more of a trend with the older population.” Bio-products require a lot less work, he said.
Customers can purchase the products by the ton, but also are able to purchase bags individually. “People living paycheck to paycheck come in every week to buy 10 bags. That’s their heat for the week,” Bob said.
SMRF does offer home deliveries, but right now that is suspended due to road conditions. With four tons of pellets or bio-bricks, having it delivered is much more cost effective even with the delivery charge, said Bob.

SMRF offers a discount for new customers and also provides a new customer bundle for bio-products so they can see what works best in their stove. Due to their products and customer service SMRF has seen 20 percent growth last year and 20 percent growth the year before. “People are being educated on the products. They try four bags and say ‘you’re right.’ There is a difference in fuel.” 

The most popular products at SMRF are Rio logs and Canawick Bricks and in pellets, the Cubex hardwood pellets and Okanagan softwood pellets. Bob suggests that customers find what works best in their appliance and stick with it. 

The big box stores that sell pellets concern bother Bob. “It’s the value of service and quality of the product that distinguishes us from the big box stores,” he said. 

The only negative about bio-products is that they can’t be stored outside or “you’ll have an expensive pile of sawdust,” Bob joked.

SMRF also has another facility in on Route 9 in Wells, which is the main office for Mainely Ticks and also a place for customers to pick up bio-fuel. 

The SMRF website,, is a great place to get information on all of the products they sell and the burn time of different products. Customers can also call Jim at 892-3702.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Business Spotlight - Maine Pawn & Jewelry

The mystique of a pawn shop goes back to the time before there were banks, according to Maine Pawn & Jewelry owner Jonathan Burnham. “The pawn shop is actually the oldest form of banking we’ve ever had,” he said. It’s a secured loan with a piece of collateral that will be held on to for a period of time. When the time is up, usually a month, the person returns, pays back the loan plus interest and takes back his or her item. No credit check needed. 

Burnham, a resident of Raymond, has been in business for 23 years. His shop is now located at 760 Roosevelt Trail in Windham. 

More than just a place to get a loan, pawn shops are also a place to sell items outright or to purchase items at prices that rival any box store. When someone doesn’t return for their collateral, the item goes out on the floor for sale. 

Maine Pawn & Jewelry has everything from flat screen TVs to rifles to video games and video game systems to movies and sporting equipment and electronics. Burnham has display cases with coins, gold, silver and platinum jewelry. He also has an assortment of diamond and other gem jewelry. And his inventory is always changing. Tools that are in the shop one day, might be gone the next. He is the only pawn shop that is a federally licensed firearms dealer in the area. 

The shop also has a large selection of guitars and other musical instruments to choose from.
Burnham said that he has customers who shop knowing they can get great deals on jewelry, others need a little cash to get through to the next paycheck. 

“Everybody gets in a pinch for money. Pawn shop is sort of a barometer for the state of the economy. If they need money right now, they can walk out with money right now,” he said.  

Pawn shops have become more popular in recent years thanks to reality shows like Pawn Stars. 

Burnham looks for items that he’d be proud to put on his shelf. He doesn’t take furs or broken electronics and is looking to buy gold. Hours are Tuesday to Friday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Saturday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and Monday by appointment. When pawning items the person must be over 18 years old and be the legal owner of the item. There are no refunds and no checks accepted. 

For more about the shop, visit

Monday, January 13, 2014

Spotlight - Rohan Strength and Fitness - "Working towards a stronger ME!"

When former history teacher Meredith Hanby and her husband Bob bought a gym in Windham on July 1, 2013, they had no idea what life would be like and how they would impact the community in such a short amount of time. 

Rohan Strength and Fitness is the new name of the gym at 8 Heathwood Drive, behind Domino’s Pizza and although the appearance hasn’t changed much, Hanby said that there have been many changes that have impacted working out at the gym. 

“I know every members name when they walk through the door. They come here to decompress before they start their day or after their day. It’s their sanctuary,” Hanby said. The atmosphere at Rohan is one of camaraderie. From the 80-year-olds doing ZumbaGold to the 250-pound man doing deadlifts to the man training for a marathon to the woman with special needs shooting basketball hoops, they all find a home at Rohan. 
“We have something for everybody,” Hanby said. “I have some members who are very inspiring.” The streamlined membership rates give members access to everything in the facility with the exception of Zumba. They can go to classes, lift weights, running or biking, babysitting or have unlimited access to tanning or use the sauna to warm up. 

Hanby has also created a packed class schedule including kettlebells, bootcamps, interval training starting at 5:15 a.m. and lasting all morning and more classes in the evening. “We cater to all abilities,” she said, adding that there are no age or ability restrictions for the classes. “It’s a community here. It’s better than public schools, no one get bullied here.” 

For members who need more accountability or want help in a specific area, Rohan has six trainers. Each one has a specialty that can help Hanby when she matches people to a trainer. Hanby is also a trainer who works out at Rohan. Her members see her training for a weightlifting competition in February and feel comfortable asking her for help. 

Teens are also welcome to become members if they workout with their family member. Once they reach 14, the teen can be unsupervised. “I think it’s great. It gives them good perceptions for healthy lifestyles,” said Hanby. 

To become a member at Rohan, stop by for a tour. They have many plans from month to month EFT withdrawals or prepay rates with senior and military discounts. For more information, visit or see the Facebook page that is used for immediate information for members.  

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Onsite Auto Glass - By Michelle Libby

Onsite Auto Glass is a local company that cares about its customers, its quality work and making sure that customers have the knowledge to make informed decisions when it comes to dealing with insurance companies. 

“We are a small business for a reason, so we can service our customers,” said Betty Jo Cash, who owns Onsite Auto Glass with her husband Norman. The company, which began 12 years ago, bought and renovated the building on the corner of Falmouth Road and Route 202 almost two years ago. The like new facility is perfect for replacing broken glass, fixing broken window motors and keeping the cold out of cars.

This is the broken glass season, according to Norm. People chip at the ice on their windows or sand trucks kick up rocks cracking or shattering windows. “As soon as the weather starts,” Norm said, that’s when the phone starts ringing. 

Although Onsite does work on the road, Norm will not do replacement or repair work away from the shop if the temperature is below 40 degrees. “I care about what I am doing,” he said. “I’m not jeopardizing someone’s safety over money.” 

When Norm does travel for a job he generally stays within a 25 mile radius. 

A challenge that Onsite deals with on a daily basis is insurance companies using terminology that is intended to scare customers into using a particular glass replacement company. 

“State law says that the consumer has the right to use anyone they want,” said Betty Jo. “We educate (the customers).” 

Onsite deals directly with insurance companies for their customers. “We want people to choose their shop. Everybody deserves to have a fair shot,” Norm said. 

Onsite Auto Glass uses only quality materials and Norm will go above and beyond for his customers. Bad replacement glass can become a safety nightmare more now than ever. “The glass is part of the structural strength of the vehicle,” Norm pointed out. 

His favorite job in all of his 27 years of work was repairing the glass on a Windham resident’s Rolls Royce. “We’re in Maine. It’s an honor out of all the glass shops to be chosen to be the one to repair it,” Norm said.
“I like small people to do business with. Someone in the community,” said Onsite Auto Glass customer Donna Dunham. 

The new location has been great for business with walk-in customers increasing 100 percent over the North Windham site. In North Windham Norm felt that his business tended to get lost. Now, everyone knows where Onsite Auto Glass is located. 

“We put that small town feel out there. It’s part of us. It’s what we do,” Norm said.
“Our customers become our friends,” said Betty Jo. 

To schedule an appointment, call 892-6477 or visit