Friday, September 26, 2014

Business spotlight on Lee Auto Care Service Center - By Michelle Libby

Tucked behind Lee Credit Express in North Windham is Lee Auto Care Service Center, a full service auto shop that services all makes and models from Fords to Ferraris. Under the direction of parts and service manager David Allen who took over in February, Lee Auto Care Service Center has become a full service shop with a focus on customer service. 
Allen is a Ford senior master technician and between him and his four main service techs they have over 120 years of experience working on cars. 

“We fix our neighbors’ cars,” Allen said. “We support the community businesses and they know they can count on us to get their cars fixed, but not get taken to the cleaners.” Prices are extremely competitive and they will honor reasonable competitor coupons. 

The service center wants to be known as the go to shop for everything from coolant flushes and oil changes to tires and alignments. Allen noted that they do everything except transmission and engine overhauls. Everything else, tire balancing, inspection stickers and tune ups are all on the menu. The center has drive-in service for customers during inclement weather. There is also a night drop box for those who like to drop their car off before or after hours. 

“Our job is to get it done in a timely manner. After, we offer a complimentary car wash and vacuum when requested,” he added. The center also offers shuttle service to local businesses and Windham customers.
Lee Auto Care Service Center is a Napa Auto Care Center, which provides additional warranties for customers. They have a full complement of car batteries. The center has six bays and one that can handle up to a one ton truck. 

An oil change takes about 30 minutes and there is a waiting room for customers with beverages and a television. Appointment for service be in a simple oil change to a larger job, Allen can flex the schedule for what works for the customer. 

“Not because you want your car fixed,” Allen said, “but it’s because you need your car fixed.” 

Lee Auto Care Service Center also has a reconditioning department with a technician who has 30 years of experience. He works on the cars that Lee Credit Express sells as well as customers who want the inside and outside of their cars to look stellar. Allen described cars that drive away as “gleaming and showroom quality.” 

The Windham service center is also the primary service center for all Lee Credit Express stores, but they are never too busy for their local customers. 

“Everyone here is geared toward customer satisfaction,” said Allen. “We fix the car right the first time and that keeps everyone happy.” 

Desiree Barriault is the service advisor for the shop. Once someone has been to Lee, they are like family. “We want that rapport,” said Allen.

To schedule an appointment call Desiree at 892-7138 or schedule an appointment online at, click service, then location as Windham. Hours are Monday through Friday 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and Saturday 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Friday, September 19, 2014

Business Spotlight - Half Moon Antiques - By Michelle Libby

Half Moon Antiques is a misleading name for all of the services that Milinda Zink provides in her shop at 686 Roosevelt Trail in Windham. Half Moon offers many antique buying opportunities, but as of July, they are an official Annie Sloan Stockist, selling original Chalk Paint®, brushes and wax to help any budding artist take their good quality furniture to the next level. 
“I’m here for the families who want to be urban, creative, budget conscious and want to have fun,” Milinda said. “I’m not a crafty person.” That being said, she has been refinishing furniture with Annie Sloan Chalk Paint® for over a year and a half and selling it, first in her vendor space and then in the storefront she has had for the last year. 

Milinda said opening her own shop afforded her the opportunity to get to know her customers and their styles. It also brought her one step closer to becoming a stockist for Annie Sloan, a goal she had in mind all along.  

Chalk paint has no chalk in it. It is a water-based, low VOC paint that when you run your hand over it after it has been painted it feels chalky. This paint is meant to adhere to any type of surface, from already sealed wood to lamp shades and can even be used to dye material. Once the paint is on in one, two or three layers depending on what look a person is going for with their piece (20 minute drying time), the cabinet or chair is waxed with the Annie Sloan wax and buffed to a shine. The wax will cure completely after 30 days and it will be very smooth to the touch. The wax repels water and hot soapy water can be used to clean it. It can also be waxed with Pledge, said Milinda. 

This process is quite amazing, as it requires no sanding or prepping. There is no bleeding through of the wood, and there is no odor. 

“I can paint in here all day long and never offend anyone with a low tolerance to smells,” Milinda said. There are 30 colors to choose from and two wax colors, soft and dark. 

In order to be a stockist, Milinda had to be accepted into the program and attend a training in Highpoint, NC. She had to have her own boutique, complete an application, do a phone interview and they had to determine if there was a want or a need in the area. There are only five stockists in Maine. Each year Milinda must take two more courses to remain a stockist.

“Annie Sloan Chalk Paint® takes all the labor and hard work out of it,” she said. She completed refinishing a dresser in six hours and a buffet in eight hours from start to finish. 

“You can paint existing well-made furniture without the cost of buying new,” she said. 

The paints come in 4-ounce sample sizes or quarts, which will cover 125 square feet. And with this paint, one coat is okay. Bathroom cabinets, floors or concrete can all be painted with this paint. Furniture that looks “ugly” can be painted and the “scars” become character. 

“I still get excited about new furniture. The best part is that people take them home and love them as much as I do,” she said. 

Half Moon Antiques offers one class a week on techniques from “having a bad chair day” to how to redo kitchen cabinets. She’s even considering opening for Sunday afternoon sessions to give women something to do if they don’t watch football. 

“Annie Sloan Chalk Paint® is new cutting edge technology. The labor intensity is gone,” she said.
Milinda hopes to become more of a do-it-yourself studio in the next year. Her motto is and has always been “Bringing vintage furniture back to life with color.”

“Working women can still have an artistic life without it taking over their life,” she finished.

Not a painter and don’t want to be? There are plenty of dining room sets, living room furniture and bureaus for sale at Half Moon Antiques, which is open six days a week from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. It is closed on Wednesday. You can also bring in your own pieces and Milinda will rejuvenate them for you for a nominal fee. For more information on Half Moon Antiques find them on Facebook or call 207-351-0069. You can also find her upcoming class schedule at

Financial Focus - Prepare yourself for the unexpected - Edward Jones

Are you ready for this? September is National Preparedness Month. Sponsored by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), National Preparedness Month seeks to educate Americans on preparing for natural disasters and other types of emergencies. But you’ll also need to prepare for unexpected events in many other areas of your life — particularly those events related to the financial security of you and your family. 
Here are some of the most important of these events, along with possible preparations for them: 

            Unanticipated early retirement – If you encounter a “downsizing” or other occurrence that results in the loss of a job, or even the end of a career, before you expected it, would you be able to avoid major disruptions to your lifestyle? To help prepare for such a loss of income, make sure to fully fund your IRA each year. The maximum contribution is $5,500 per year plus an additional $1,000 for those age 50 and older.

             Disability – Even a short-term disability can seriously harm your finances — and a long-term disability could prove devastating. Your employer might offer some form of disability insurance, but it may not be sufficient. So you may need to explore private coverage.

            Personal liability – If someone were ever injured on your property or due to some action of yours, you could face legal actions demanding hundreds of thousands of dollars. To help protect yourself, consider adding umbrella liability insurance. 

            Changing family situation – Changes in your life — marriage, divorce, remarriage, children, stepchildren — can drastically affect your estate plans and the type of legacy you want to leave. To prevent unpleasant surprises for your family, make sure you periodically review beneficiary designations on your investment accounts, such as your IRA and 401(k), and work with your tax and legal advisors to update your estate-planning documents — will, living trust and so on — as needed. 

            Outliving your money – Once you reach retirement, your greatest concern may be that you’ll outlive your money. To help prevent this from happening, create a sustainable withdrawal strategy — that is, determine how much you can take out each year from your investment and retirement accounts, and stick to this amount. 

            Need for long-term care – You can’t predict whether you will ever need to enter a nursing home or require the assistance of a home health care worker, but one thing is for sure — these services are extremely expensive. Consider this: The national average for a private room in a nursing home is nearly $84,000 per year, according to a recent survey by Genworth, a financial security company. To help prepare for these costs, you may want to consult with a professional financial advisor, who can suggest appropriate solutions. 

            Untimely death – Your absence could jeopardize your family’s financial security, particularly if you passed away while your children were still at home. To help ensure that your family could remain in the home and that your children could go to college, if they choose, make sure you have adequate life insurance. 

Your passage through life will be filled with twists and turns, and you can’t always see what lies ahead. But you can ease your journey by preparing yourself for the unexpected.

This article was written by Edward Jones for use by your local Edward Jones Financial Advisor.

Business Spotlight - Landing Real Estate - By Michelle Libby

For Landing Real Estate based in Portland, it’s all about the people and getting them into their dream home or selling their home so they can move on with their lives. Co-owners Lisa and Matt DiBiase started the company in January 2012. In the small amount of time, they have taken on three new agents, Mike Joyce, Craig Candage and Katie Else. 
“The best part is working with the people, helping them buy their dream home and getting their property sold for them,” said Matt. “Sometimes you have to go above and beyond.” 

The motto of Landing Real Estate comes from the wings on their signs, “We’ll guide you home.”
Lisa and Matt have been in real estate since the early 2000s. Lisa started before Matt in Laguna Beach, California. She brings the west coast marketing, professionalism and guidance to Maine. It was different when she first moved here. “The experience of basements, California is on slabs,” she said with a laugh.
“We seized the opportunity to set up our own company, make all the decisions and marketing. We’re extremely grateful and happy,” Lisa said. 

The different mindset and a higher level of expectation is what Maine home buyers and sellers can expect when they work with Landing Real Estate. The expectations for a seller is the same, sell my property or for a buyer, put me in the right house for the right price. That’s what they can do for their clients.

“We have four under contract right now. Being able to see an agent use the tools – watch them succeed, it’s pride, that proud parent type feeling.

“There’s an office synergy that screams success. Matt and myself are so driven that it comes from the top down,” Lisa said. 

Matt alone completes over 50 transactions a year, when the average is seven to 12. Matt takes an aggressive and proactive approach to his work. “I have the energy and enthusiasm to help people out,” he said. “I love putting deals together for people. There’s a sense of accomplishment when it’s all said and done.”

Landing has started to see repeat business. They help clients into their first homes, then when they are ready to move up because they are now married and have children, Landing as had the opportunity to put them in a new home, again. “We watch our customers grow in life,” Lisa said. 

Landing Real Estate works primarily in the Greater Portland area, but at times travels to clients in Auburn, Raymond and beyond. 

Matt describes everyone at Landing Real Estate as innovative, young and technology savvy. “We are proactive and all of our agents are hungry to succeed,” Matt said. From the advertising they do, to the post cards and direct mail they use, they are always trying to stand out.

We have a proven marketing plan, Matt said. “The last thing we want to do is sit back and wait for our homes to sell.” 

The sage green color of their signs is unique. Justin Levesque was pivotal in the website design and branding as a company, said Lisa. Landing Real Estate wants to be recognizable. 

Being in the industry has its perks, Lisa said. She has a flexible schedule and personally, she has the “pure satisfaction to place someone in a new home.” She sees happy clients beaming at the closing. Whether they sold or bought the home, they are happy. “That’s the best part of our job.”

Landing also posts pictures of their clients in front of their new homes and they are given a T-shirt that says “homeowner” on it. 

Landing Real Estate is interested in taking on new realtors for their team. New or been in the business, Lisa and Matt with go over what they can provide for new realtors in the industry. 

“Sometimes to be recognizable you have to do things a little different,” Matt said. 

For more information on Landing Real Estate, visit, email or call 775-7653.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Business spotlight - Eagles Nest Child Care - By Michelle Libby

In August a new childcare officially opened on Main Street in South Windham under the direction of Julia Duchaine. Miss Julia and her husband, affectionately known as “Poppy”, moved back to the area after three years in Atlanta. They both grew up here. 
The childcare is licensed and Christian based. Duchaine felt it was important for the daycare to be faith-based for this neighborhood and community. She also has many years of experience teaching Sunday school. 

“God brought us back here. This little, tiny church next door made it all happen,” Duchaine said, of the South Windham Community Church. People from the church volunteered their times and talents to get the daycare up and running, from the engineering, plumbing, electrical work to making curtains for the windows. Everyone pitched in. Duchaine said that even now, people are still dropping off equipment and toys. 

“This is not about money and business. This is about people, children and families,” Duchaine said. With that said, her prices are right in the middle of other places nearby, she added. 

The biggest challenge for families is paying for childcare and if the family has more than one child it adds up quickly. Duchaine wants to help ease the burden for people. She is licensed for 12 children and has plans to expand once everything is up and running. 

“A lot of these kids need nurturing and extra love. Each child is unique and special. I’m just blessed to be a part of the lives of children,” she said. 

Eagles Nest Childcare takes children from birth to 12 years old from both Windham and Gorham since she is almost on the town line. 

The name for the center came from a verse in The Bible. She wants the children in her care to “soar like an eagle,” and it’s her job to teach them to fly. She didn’t realize that the Eagle was the Windham High School mascot at the time. 

Duchaine and the children already enrolled are always spotting eagles now, on clothing, in magazines and even in the sky over the childcare. “Being around kids you get to be younger,” she said. 

Through structured, creative play, she plans to help them grow. She tries to develop different activities for each child depending on what their strengths and likes are. “We’re all different for a reason,” she said. Duchaine also takes the children on trips around town. 

The center is made up of four rooms, a small kitchen area and a large backyard enclosed play area.
Eagles Nest Childcare is also big on safety and positive rewards rather than focusing on the negative things that might happen. 

There are future plans already in the early stages. Duchaine would like to install a video camera for parents to check in on their children. She already invites them to come for lunch to visit.

Duchaine also plans to mentor teen moms because of her history, she knows how difficult it can be. She is now a grandmother and believes that she has more energy now than she did when her own three children were small. 

Every other Friday night will be teen night at the South Windham Community Church. Duchaine believes in back to basics. She wants the children to come, learn and have a good time. 

Eagles Nest Childcare still has openings and the hours are from 6:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Monday through Friday. Duchaine is certified in First Aid/CPR. FMI, visit or call 893-8461. Until October, enroll full time and get a free week of childcare.