Thursday, December 31, 2020

Business Spotlight: TLC Tree

For more than two decades, Travis Corson has been accumulating insight into the care of trees and his
expertise can greatly benefit home and business owners in the Sebago Lakes Region.

Through his Raymond-based business, TLC Tree, Travis and his staff of professional arborists and expert climbers can solve any tree problem that could arise. They specialize in waterfront properties and are adept in handling both dangerous trees and associated natural aesthetics.

Travis, who has owned TLC tree for the past five years and previously owned and operated a tree business in Hallowell for 5 years, said that TLC Tree staff members are highly experienced in performing dangerous tree trimmings and takedowns near buildings and structures, around leach fields, close to utility lines and hanging over roadways. They take great pride in providing peace of mind to homeowners by eliminating weak and dead tree limbs and branches before high winds or a heavy snowfall can cause disaster.

“Arborists are experts in tree care services and when you consult with a Licensed or Certified Arborist, you can rest assured they have done their homework and are able to advise on how best to approach your tree project in a way that supports your goals and in the best interests of your safety, home, property value, and your trees,” Travis said.

Skilled and experienced, TLC Tree offers competitive and affordable pricing, superior customer service and treat each property they work on with care and respect.

 “We feel that our success is a direct relation to the excellent customer service we provide”, he said. We are your local expert, with a strong eye for detail and an even stronger commitment to be on time and courteous all the time. We sincerely value the opportunity to be of service.”   

Trees are indiscriminate about where they grow. Travis and his team can strategically remove lower limbs that hang over homes, driveways, swimming pools, walkways, and that block sunshine from your yard. TLC Tree trimmers can also assist waterfront property owners by giving them back their scenic views that have become hidden by overgrown and overhanging trees.

They work year-round and provide stump grinding, brush disposal and array of tree care services. Using high-tech stump removal machinery, TLC Tree can restore the look of yards and properties by thoroughly removing stump remains under the surface of the ground.

Additionally, TLC Tree offers basic and advanced tree trimming and seasonal pruning for fruit trees, ornamental trees, and shrubs.

Free estimates are always available for seasonal, routine, aesthetic, emergency, and non-emergency tree services. Ask about their complimentary Tree Care Wellness Check to check the overall health of your trees and to identify those that may be sick, dead or are slowly dying, assess any hazards or environmental threats that may be causing tree damage, sickness and tree death, diagnose your trees for any signs of tree rot or decay, and work with you to develop a tree care treatment and maintenance plan, and if necessary, tree removal.

“Trees take a long time to grow and we certainly take that into account,” Travis said. “Each situation is different, so we carefully explain what course of action we recommend, and we like to give people options.”

He said consulting the experts at TLC Tree in advance can be helpful when planning and budgeting for any tree care or tree removal project.

“Truly the best thing about what we do is that we are able to save trees and make a dangerous situation safe again,” Travis said.

Call 207-655-TREE (8733) to discuss your needs or begin the scheduling process on their website at www.tlc-tree.com. They are a trusted Home Advisor Service Provider and are five-star top rated. Check out their review page to see what your neighbors are saying. You can also find them on Facebook.

We love trees, and we love what we do. We are your local expert, with a strong eye for detail. We thank you for the opportunity to earn your business and to be of service.” <

Friday, December 18, 2020

Business Spotlight: Café Sebago Bar & Grill

Café Sebago Bar & Grill in Raymond has been a longtime community staple when it comes to delicious
food, a relaxed family friendly atmosphere and full bar. Earlier this year, the establishment changed hands with owner and local resident, Kyle Bancroft stepping up to save the café, which was facing permanent closure due in part to the pandemic and the interests of the management.

Kyle’s fond memories of frequenting the restaurant in his younger days, paired with his entrepreneurial spirit, made his decision to buy the café an easy one. Kyle owns KJ Bancroft General Contracting out of Raymond and is the General Manager of Vision Contracting & Supply in Westbrook, Maine. He figured his business background coupled with Devon Pepin, his general manager’s cooking experience, the café could continue to provide a dependable eatery for area residents and visitors. 

“If it wasn’t for my team, I wouldn’t be able to do this,” Kyle said. “I am so fortunate to be surrounded by a staff with experience and dedication to run the day-to-day operations while I take care of the behind-the-scenes duties.” The bartenders and servers are friendly and attentive, and the chefs combine the freshest ingredients with a creative flair to craft dishes that even the toughest critics rave about.

The first thing Kyle did when he purchased the cafe was dive into renovations, modernizing the space with fresh paint, refacing the bar, upgrading kitchen equipment, and creating an outdoor patio. He also revamped the logo to a more modern look and changed the name to Café Sebago Bar and Grill to reflect the food and atmosphere more accurately.

He opened in August and says the community has been amazingly supportive. They are open every day except Mondays for lunch and dinner from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. and serve breakfast on the weekends from 6:30 a.m. to noon. In the evenings, they encourage you to crank up the juke box and unwind with happy hour specials from 8 p.m. to close. Although the curfew has the night scene ending early during the pandemic, Kyle says in the summer he will aim to be the local go-to spot for a late-night drink and friendly camaraderie. The patio will not only be a great space to dine in the open air but will provide live music and entertainment as well.

The café is the perfect blend of bar and family restaurant. In early afternoons you will find the bar filled with friendly chatter and as dinner hours roll around, the place fills with families and couples that come for the house made food and low-key atmosphere. For weekend breakfast they offer lots of crave-worthy favorites and feature homemade corned beef hash and eggs benedict along with hearty omelets and other traditional dishes. Prices are affordable enough to treat the whole family and with a full bar, adding a bloody mary, mimosa or some Bailey’s to your coffee is no problem!

There is something for everyone on the menu and if they can make it in house, they do - homemade sauces, dressings, marinades, salsas, chowders, pickles and even chips to name a few. They take pride in quality, freshness and consistency and go the extra mile to ensure satisfaction in every dish.

Some starter favorites include their huge plates of nachos, whole wings, lobster stew, and French onion soup.  Everything is fresh never frozen and made to order including their popular Pasta Alfredo’s in several varieties and seafood dishes which are prepared lightly breaded and fried or baked casserole style. Additionally, they offer chef specials daily. Be sure to stop by on Thursdays for their perfectly cooked Prime Rib roast which is served from 4 to close or when they run out.

Café Sebago Bar & Grill is conveniently located at 1248 Roosevelt Trail in Raymond with plenty of parking. Patrons are welcome to dine in or take out and can easily place their takeout orders on their Facebook page. You can also call 207-655-4006 to order ahead. Follow them on Facebook to keep up with their entertainment schedules and to see what they are serving up for daily food and drink specials.  <

Friday, December 11, 2020

Holiday Spotlight: Maine State Society for the Protection of Animals

Unsung heroes are continuing their worthwhile efforts right here in Windham, making sure that horses
suffering from abuse and neglect receive the best possible care and treatment every day throughout the year. And despite the pandemic, the ongoing love and support offered by the Maine State Society for the Protection of Animals remains a stable force for suffering equines.

The mission of the MSSPA is to provide refuge, rehabilitation and placement of seized equines, support the placement of surrenders and educate the public. 

“I really think the best aspect of what we do is the rehabilitation of horses,” said Robert Sheckler, MSSPA community programs manager. “When you see a horse coming here in bad shape physically, and then when rehabilitated you can see their true personality, it’s amazing.”  

He cited the example of a horse named Dexter, which arrived at the MSSPA with mobility issues after not having a hoof trim in several years.

“Without having his hooves trimmed, it caused him to become crippled and lame as a result of joint problems caused by tendons and ligaments that were stretched out and his rehabilitation took a full year to complete,” Sheckler said. “Now Dexter is walking and running like a normal horse. We’re seeing a change in his personality now too. It’s like a reemergence and now that he’s recovered, he is very friendly and much more sociable. Because he’s no longer in constant physical pain, he is able to express his true personality.”

The Society is unlike any other animal welfare facility in all of New England. It was originally formed in 1872 to protect the horses who pulled Portland’s streetcars, but it now provides full-time staffing, with 24-hour access to veterinary services and offers shelter and a home for horses at its farm at 279 River Road in South Windham.

Sheckler said that the MSSPA uses its resources to provide direct care to equines who have suffered abuse. It promotes humane treatment, training and use of animals through education and hands-on experiences. It also collaborates with other animal-service agencies to maximize resources for all.

“Horses in the care of the Society have been removed from abusive situations by law enforcement and placed with the MSSPA where they receive refuge and rehabilitation,” Sheckler said. “Once the horses are restored to their best health, the next step is training and thereafter the horses become available for adoption. Horses who do not find adoptive placements receive lifetime care in the River Road shelter.”

During 2020, some 116 horses were impacted by the MSSPA. A total of 47 horses received rehabilitation services or were maintained at the farm, with eight equines under foster care, 19 horses listed on Maine House Matchmaker and 42 horses provided with emergency support from the Society’s Feed and Care Bank.  

Unlike rescue organizations for smaller pets, MSSPA faces a different set of challenges when trying to adopt out rehabilitated equines. The group of potential adopters is smaller, some level of training and experience is required and not everyone has a facility suitable for horses.

“Many horses in our care are not able to be ridden due to age, abuse or neglect,” Sheckler said. “One of our biggest challenges is finding companion-only placements.”

The pandemic has also been a significant obstacle as the MSSPA has had limited opportunities for public fundraising events and it’s had to curtail hosting a popular birthday party program.

“The year ahead is certainly uncertain because of the pandemic, but we want to resume hosting birthday parties as soon as we are able to again,” Sheckler said. “We did notice after the farm was closed to visitors some historically less-social horses became really excited when for a while over the summer we were able to host some “Picnic with Ponies” events. It showed the positive aspects for the horses of the socialization aspects and psychological benefits of interacting with the public.”

He said that the organization is a tax-exempt, 501(c)(3) public charity and receives no federal, state, or local funding. It is funded by a combination of donations, bequests, grants, and fundraising activities and does not charge for its services and does not seek reimbursement from any public funding source.

To learn more about the Maine State Society for the Protection of Animals, visit www.msspa.org and find them on Facebook and Instagram. < 

Friday, December 4, 2020

Holiday Spotlight: Shop Local with this Bonus Gift Card Promotion

It just might be time to rethink the old expression “it’s better to give than receive” when shopping for
Christmas gifts in the Lakes Region, thanks to a new bonus card program.

The initiative was created by Robin Mullins, the Executive Director of the Sebago Lakes Region Chamber of Commerce and Tom Bartell, the Executive Director of the Windham Economic Development Corporation. Customers will receive a $5 bonus card for every $25 in gift cards that they purchase at 22 different participating chamber businesses.

As an example, those who buy $100 worth of gift cards will receive four $5 bonus cards to be used during a later date.

“Residents should be excited about this because they get bonus $5 cards for gift cards they were probably going to buy anyway, and by shopping local they are helping local businesses and the community,” Mullins said. “If a consumer spends $100 at a locally owned business, $68 of that stays local, supporting community programs.”

Bartell echoed that sentiment.

“In this time of restricted business activity, buying local will help our locally owned and operated businesses through the upcoming winter season,” he said.

The promotion is modeled after successful bonus card programs offered by businesses elsewhere and was created by Mullins and Bartell during a brain storming session at Rustler’s Steakhouse.

“We said ‘Hey we can do that here,’” Mullins said.

This special promotion begins Dec. 6 and ends when the merchant’s allotment of 50 cards has been distributed or at 11:59 p.m. Dec. 31. To redeem the cards, a customer must present the card to a participating business and it will be accepted as cash against the total bill.

Bonus cards expire March 31. 2021 and the initiative is generously sponsored by the Windham Economic Development Corporation and Gorham Savings Bank.

Because the bonus cards do not expire until March 31, we hope that folks will use them well after the holiday season,” Mullins said. “By doing so, they will continue to support local businesses and the community.”

She said it is hoped that this program prompts residents to consider shopping locally this holiday season.

“Ordering online, although convenient, is hopefully a consumer’s last option, and only when an item cannot be found locally,” Mullins said. “If a consumer orders online with an organization like Amazon, none of that money stays local. Therefore, providing no benefit to our community at all.”

She said that locally owned businesses generate more tax revenue and thus promote positive economic growth by recirculating a greater share of every dollar back into the local economy, adding to the pot of many non-profit and social programs, facilitating civically based healthy communities.

Bartell said the timing of this program follows growing national trends.

“Recent studies have shown that consumer spending above gift-card value has been increasing over the last few years and is averaging $59 more than the original value of their gift card, up from $21 from 2017,” he said. “Bringing customers into your establishment with a gift card leads to increased sales.”

Mullins said the bonus card program is perfect for both local shoppers and area businesses.

I see this as a huge benefit as it will not only get shoppers in to buy gift cards but will also get them back to redeem the $5 bonus cards,” she said. “And, due to the generosity of Windham Economic Development Corporation and Gorham Savings Bank, the $5 bonus cards will not come out of the businesses’ bottom line, but rather will be reimbursed to them.”

According to Mullins, local businesses are excited to offer the bonus card initiative this year.

“Every business has been happy to participate,” she said. “In fact, they say ‘This is a no brainer.’ And they asked if we wanted them to reach out to other business owners about the program.”

Bartell said that Windham Economic Development Corporation is grateful to Gorham Savings Bank for funding the initiative.

“It was great that Gorham Savings Bank reached out to us and agreed to provide the resources to be able to double the participating local businesses,” he said. <

Friday, November 27, 2020

Business Spotlight: Stockhouse Restaurant & Sandbar Pub

Three basic principles guide Dan and Jennifer Drouin, the owners of the new Stockhouse Restaurant &
Sandbar Pub in Windham, who believe that great food, outstanding service and knowing the community are the building blocks for any successful eatery.

The Drouins, who live in Standish, opened the Stockhouse Restaurant & Sandbar Pub at the intersection of River Road and Roosevelt Trail earlier this month and it follows the success of their Stockhouse Restaurant & Sports Pub, a mainstay in Westbrook.                     

They say the most important thing to succeed in the restaurant business is a presence and investment in the community in which you are located.

“In order to be successful in any small business you have to be present and invested in the community or you will never truly enjoy success,” Dan Drouin said. “Take the time to know the community, live there, be a patron of the local businesses yourself, support other small businesses, support the schools, support the things the community supports, this is what it takes to be successful.”

Employing a staff of 35 at the Stockhouse Restaurant & Sandbar Pub in Windham, the Drouins are still faced with all of the same challenges that existed prior to the pandemic of delivering quality service and great tasting food to customers all in the context of maintaining the safest possible environment for their staff and visitors.

“We have to stay up to date on the latest regulations and restrictions while continuing to offer a little bit of relaxation and “normalcy” to our customers in a world that doesn’t feel very normal right now, Jennifer Drouin said. “The absolutely most significant aspect of our business is serving our customers and giving the community a place to come enjoy a good meal and good company.”

The Drouins say what distinguishes Stockhouse Restaurant & Sandbar Pub from other similar businesses is the atmosphere and ambiance that instantly gives customers a taste of the Lakes Region.

“We invite our customers to relax and leave their worries at the door and “Meet us at the Sandbar,” Dan Drouin said. “The best thing about being in the restaurant business is the many customers that over the years have come to be like family. We have been in business in our Westbrook location for 15 years this past July. We have watched children grow up, go to college, and get married. We are so excited to expand those relationships in the Windham community.”

Menu top sellers at the Stockhouse Restaurant & Sandbar Pub include chicken wings; dirty, garlic parmesan, or blueberry habanero; steak and cheese pizza; rodeo burgers; Stockhouse burgers; homemade macaroni and cheese; sweet chili chicken pineapple pizza; and chicken bacon ranch calzones. There are 24 different drafts on tap, making the location the leader in Windham for draft beers and ciders.

“With a healthy mix of old favorites and interesting newer brews, everyone is bound to find something to their liking,” Jennifer Drouin said. “We also offer a full bar at the Sandbar if beers are not your style.”

Families will find Stockhouse Restaurant popular with those of all ages with something for everyone at reasonable prices.

“We serve a large portion of food at a fair price,” Dan Drouin said. “We strive to keep our pricing affordable, offering dishes made from quality products, with a wide variety of menu items to satisfy any appetite.”

The owners say they are pleased to be part of the Windham community and the Lakes Region family.

“We are off to a great start and have met so many great residents of Windham and the surrounding communities since we opened our doors. We are grateful for the opportunity to do business here,” Dan Drouin said. “We cannot say enough about the warm welcome that we have received from this community. So many wonderful individuals and organizations have reached out to us in person or messaged our Facebook page to thank us for investing in this community. It has been wonderful to hear our customers say time and again during their visits that they are so happy we chose to open our second Stockhouse location in Windham and that they wish us success here, each one acknowledging the unique challenges that we face opening a restaurant during a pandemic.”

Stockhouse Restaurant & Sandbar Pub is at 4 Turning Leaf Drive in Windham. For more details, call 207-893-8412 or visit them online at https://www.thestockhouserestaurant.com/ or on Facebook at  https://www.facebook.com/stockhouserestaurantwindham <

Friday, November 20, 2020

Business Spotlight: Maine Pointe Lending

The foundation of any successful business is always outstanding customer service and that is precisely
what Skylar Welch of Maine Point Lending is striving to achieve. 

Welch, a residential mortgage broker, provides Conventional, FHA, USDA, VA and construction loan options for purchasing and refinancing homes and is the only VettedVA Lender in the state of Maine. She has the knowledge and experience required to navigate the complexities of home loans and has been recognized as one of the top loan originators in America. 

But for Welch and her business, Maine Pointe Lending, defining success is truly all about being someone that clients can trust to have their best interest at heart at all times and delivering exceptional and personable service to everyone that seeks her help and expertise.

“I truly care about my clients, and create a memorable and personal experience,” Welch said. “I also am able to close loans extremely quickly and am always available for my clients, who are the main point of the transaction. We make it a personal, stress-free, easy process with a local, reliable, friendly mortgage broker by providing lots of loan options, great rates and fast service.” 

According to Welch, what motivates her the most is genuinely liking what she does each and every single day. 

“For me, I work a lot of hours because I love helping people to get into a home and to change their life,” she said. “I’m local and I’m very responsive. I don’t work banker’s hours and many times we can obtain same-day approval where some loan applications at banks can take 60 to 90 days. My goal is to give those I work for a personal experience and no additional fees and lots of options.” 

She says everyone looking to buy a home should call Maine Pointe Lending first to be qualified for a loan prior to entering the real estate process. 

“Every single real estate agent will ask them if they have been prequalified. I can help them find the perfect loan program for them, what they are qualified up to, and most importantly help them find a purchase price that gives them a comfortable monthly payment,” Welch said. “They can then take this info back to their real estate agent and be completely prepared and ready to start the homebuying process to find their dream home. I also have been in the market for a long time and know all of the best agents in the area and can help connect them with the perfect fit to help them with the buying process.”
Maine Pointe Lending is a family
run, family built business. Owner
Skylar Welch and her family are
residents of Windham. PHOTO
BY CHARITY CLARK
PHOTOGRAPHY 

Welch launched Maine Pointe Lending in October and employs a staff of six after years of working in the business of loan origination. She says the employees of her new company constantly monitor the local real estate market and work with a variety of lenders to maximize buying power for all of their customers.

“We are always keeping up to date on all of the loan options out there, as well as market updates. Rates are currently at record lows, so it’s a great time to refinance and offering a super, easy streamlined refinance for veterans,” Welch said. “Because I am a broker, I am able to shop around to find the best available rate and program for the client.”

A licensed mortgage loan originator, Welch said Maine Pointe Lending has clear advantages that anyone looking to purchase or refinance a home should explore. “You’ll work with a mortgage loan broker and provide lots of options,” she said. “Our overhead is low and because of that we can offer lower rates. We have streamlined the paperwork and application process making it super easy and available digitally. We offer a quality, extremely responsive and personable experience. We are never trying to sell anything to anyone and want to simply help everyone find the best option. I want every client to feel like they are my only client.” 

Maine Pointe Lending is at 202 US Route 1, Suite 102 in Falmouth. Call 207-949-3568 or find them online at www.mainepointelending.com They’re also on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/skyeclosesmaine/posts/1612565075590101?notif_id=1605205062864493&notif_t=page_post_reaction&ref=notif <

Friday, November 13, 2020

Business Spotlight: Dog-Gone Grooming to become Lavish Dog Day Spa

Transitions are never easy, but it’s safe to say that life does become easier as we adapt to change.

In Raymond, Julie Chouinard, the owner of Dog-Gone Grooming is retiring after years of service and being succeeded in business in January by Caitlyn Brundage of Lavish Dog Day Spa.

“In saying thank you and goodbye, I realize how blessed I really am,” Chouinard said. “I’m blessed to be able to open and operate a very successful business over 15 wonderful years. Dog-Gone Grooming has become ‘My’ dream come true for many reasons. I’m reminded every day how fortunate I truly am.  I’m fortunate that I got to build so many amazing relationships with clients, friends and of course their dogs.”

Chouinard said that she has watched so many puppies grow up to old and seen her older dogs cross over the Rainbow Bridge taking a piece of her heart with them.

“I know my heart will break again the evening of Dec. 23 as I lock the door for the last time. There are so many emotions but nothing like saying goodbye to all the folks that have put their trust in me to care for and love their dogs,” she said. “Since I live local in the community, hopefully our paths will cross again. My plans for the new year will be spending a lot of time with my family, husband and friends enjoying life.”

According to Chouinard, she’s leaving a lot of her clients in very capable hands.

“I know they will be loved and taken care of the same way,” she said.  “Please help me welcome Lavish Dog Day Spa to Raymond. Caitlyn and her girls are so excited to become part of this wonderful community. Welcome Lavish.”

Brundage currently operates a location of Lavish Dog Day Spa at 111 Ossipee Trail East in Standish and is excited to meet and transition customers at the Dog-Gone Grooming location at 1263 Roosevelt Trail in Raymond after Chouinard retires.

“We are a full-service grooming salon. Every groomer works on one dog at a time, straight through with no kennel drying,” Brundage said. “We are currently working with all breeds and sizes. Every bath or groom comes with a premium shampoo, conditioner, facial scrub, CO2 spa, nail grinding, ear cleaning, and tooth brushing. If a dog is shedding, we automatically include a shed-less spa for no extra charge.”

She’s happy to take on any client moving over from Dog-Gone Grooming and also new ones too at the Raymond location,  

Our signature is the full spa treatment and one on one, straight-through service for an all-inclusive price,” Brundage said. “We are probably in line with others who operate the way we do. We are more expensive than salons who will take dogs in first thing and call clients as they’re ready. We are less expensive than mobile or groomers that go to the owner’s home to groom.”

Like everyone else has experienced, Brundage said that 2020 has been a roller coaster year, but the opportunity to purchase Dog-Gone Grooming was something Lavish Dog Day Spa could not pass up.

“In the end, Julie was very generous helping make this something feasible and we are so grateful because this is really a fantastic opportunity,” Brundage said.

Lavish Dog Day Spa launched at a very small location on River Road in Windham in 2015 with Brundage as the only employee. Since then the business moved to a much larger location 20 minutes away in Standish. It now has five employees and with the expansion to Raymond, will be looking for additional groomers.

“We strive to provide quality service for clients and pets. Our goal is to make your pet feel like part of our family and not just another client,” Brundage said. “We genuinely care about the pets and their owners. We have to be doing something right because our feedback has been pretty positive.”

The company also offers a Loyalty Program where after eight visits customers can earn points for $20 off a full-service bath or groom.

For more information about Lavish Dog Day Spa, visit them online at www.lavishdogdayspa.com or on Facebook at  www.facebook.com/lavishdog <

Friday, November 6, 2020

Business Spotlight: Northstar Mortgage Group

Since its founding in 2005, Northstar Mortgage Group has been dedicated to improving the process of
obtaining a mortgage and making it easier for those in Maine to realize their dream of owning a home.

Northstar is a broker so their focus is not one size fits all. They service the entire state and stay current in the real estate market to give clients the best possible choices for their family’s needs.

Leigh Gagnon, who co-owns Northstar Mortgage Group with her husband, Jason, said the family owned company has taken steps to streamline the process and make applying for a mortgage much easier and less intimidating.

“We saw how intimidating loan services could be, so we wanted to create a more casual atmosphere,” Gagnon said. “Our relaxed mood helps clients feel comfortable asking questions, bringing their kids along to meetings and popping by even just to say hi. Northstar has a community mentality.”

She said that Northstar is passionate about helping families and is dedicated to investing the time needed for a smooth and stress-free process.

“You will never be just another number after stepping foot through our doors,” Gagnon said.

“One of the best things about what we do is helping people purchase homes, especially first-time buyers. Seeing their excitement as they get keys to a new chapter is priceless” Gagnon said. “We pride ourselves in delivering superior and personal customer service.”

She said Northstar’s priority is to walk applicants through the entire process.

“We’ll handle the loan transaction from start to finish to ensure you feel comfortable with your investment,” Gagnon said. “In the last year, loan application technology has become very advanced. As a company we have embraced and learned new systems to stay up to date. You can now complete the process electronically from start to finish from your couch at home if that’s what is convenient for your family.”

In Windham, Northstar Mortgage Group can be found at its new location, 625 Roosevelt Trail.

“It’s a convenient new space and has the causal environment we want to provide for our community,” Gagnon said.

Northstar Mortgage Group offers Conventional, FHA, USDA/Rural Housing, VA, Reverse Mortgages and Turnkey Construction Loans. Due to record low interest rates, Gagnon said she is encouraging everyone to explore how much they could save by acting soon whether that be buying or refinancing.

Northstar has a secure, online web application that takes about five minutes to fill out which Northstar brokers will review within 24 hours. The loan officers can meet applicants at the office, via zoom and even after work or on weekends. Best of all, the company is known for getting the loan done on time or ahead of schedule.

According to Gagnon, Northstar Mortgage can offer the best pricing in the industry due to being a broker model. They have more loan options and flexibility than a traditional bank.

“Our reviews on Facebook and Google show the love we have for our community and our passion for a smooth process,” she said. “Buying a home is an incredibly memorable milestone; we work hard to make it casual, stress-free and as exciting as possible. We’ve proudly walked countless happy clients through the process of homebuying and refinancing and we’d love the opportunity to help you too.”

For more information about Northstar Mortgage Group, call 207-893-8499 or visit their website at www.northstarmortgage.net or on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/northstarmortgage <casual, stress-free, and exciting as possible. You can expect the same dedication to community and family at our second location in Auburn.

 

Friday, October 30, 2020

Business Spotlight: Downeast Energy

In a day and age when personalized attention is often neglected and customers are searching for a
reputable business to turn to for reliable delivery, expertise in all facets of heating systems and the best possible price for heating fuel, Downeast Energy is a leading choice to serve the needs of Windham and Raymond residents. 

Downeast Energy offers superior residential and commercial heating service and fuel and specializes in the delivery of propane and heating oil. As a full-service company, Downeast Energy provides 24/7 emergency service to its customers and sells and installs all types of propane and oil heating and water heating equipment, along with offering generous rebates of up to $1,500 for converting from oil to propane for central heat and hot water.

Consistently rated year in and year out as one of the top business in the state for exceptional customer service and friendly employees, Downeast Energy aims to exceed the expectations of every customer and fulfill their needs in a timely and professional way.

“We want everyone to know that we are here for you. We have been around for many years,” said Chris Blake, Customer Service Center Manager for Downeast Energy. “We have the local feel but the support of a national company that provides us with greater supply and resources allowing for greater peace of mind to the customer.”

Blake said heating your home safely and efficiently is not a concern when customers choose Downeast Energy and he attributes one specific factor among many that distinguishes them from competitors.

“We pride ourselves on our ability to respond to customer’s needs faster and smoother than the competition,” he said. 

Originally known as Brunswick Coal and Lumber, Downeast Energy has been in business for more than 110 years and offers services from Bangor to Dover, New Hampshire and everywhere in between. It has central offices located in Windham, Brunswick, Hallowell and Kennebunk with several other smaller offices located throughout the region.

In Windham, the Downeast Energy office can be found at 34 Manchester Drive, next to Lowe’s.

Blake said Downeast Energy employees place a value on quality work in everything they do and strive to ensure that their customers are satisfied in all aspects of service they receive.

“We have always held ourselves to the highest standards in all that we do, otherwise we wouldn’t have been around for 110-plus years,” Blake said. “We consistently receive positive feedback from our customers.”

Those trying to get the best possible available price for heating oil and propane won’t be discouraged by the competitiveness of Downeast Energy, Blake said.

“We encourage anyone interested in becoming a Downeast customer to call and see what we can offer,” he said. “We’re confident you won’t be disappointed.”

He emphasized that Downeast employees are highly skilled, experienced and stand ready to assist customers seeking a reliable and energy efficient heating system tailored to meet their individual needs and budget.

“All of our Fuel Delivery Drivers and Oil & Propane Service Technicians are fully trained and licensed in the state of Maine,” Blake said. “We service and install products that customers can feel good about. And we are there, 24 hours day on call to lend a hand when needed.”

Licensed installers from Downeast Energy perform all the work no matter if it involves replacing parts, upgrading an old system or creating a new one. Extended warranties are available as are energy efficient furnaces, boilers, water heaters and vented space heaters.

According to Blake, Downeast employees study the latest trends in heating systems and delivery in order to give customers the best experience and service possible.

“In 2021 we will be offering an all-in-one web based app to our customers to order fuel, pay bills and monitor the fuel level in their propane tanks, all at the push of a button,” he said. “We’re very excited about this, stay tuned.”

To learn more about Downeast Energy, visit www.downeastenergy.com or in Windham or Raymond, call 207-892-4806. < 


Friday, October 16, 2020

Business Spotlight: Nicholas Jobin State Farm

In playing college basketball for St. Joseph’s College, Nicholas Jobin quickly learned that success was
always possible if he and his fellow players worked together as a team.

For the past year Jobin has applied that same philosophy in Windham, providing State Farm insurance and financial products for residential and business customers. He’s assembled a skilled team of licensed experts who are knowledgeable in all forms of insurance and financial planning to serve the community.

“We help our clients navigate which options fit their current and future circumstances, follow up semi-annually to make sure their needs are being met, and assist them in the event one of our products is needed,” said Geoff Grigsby, office manager for the agency. “These are often sensitive or emotional occasions, so we do our very best to meet them where they are at. We are not a brokerage, so we exclusively provide State Farm products, which have proven to be the most trusted in the industry.”

Grigsby said Nicholas Jobin State Farm is licensed to sell auto, home, and business insurance, as well as financial products and has customers in every corner of Maine, but its primary focus is the Lakes Region.

“The insurance industry is massive, and massively competitive, but over the last 100 years State Farm has become the largest insurance provider in the United States. One of the primary reasons we have become the most trusted company nationally is because of the strong presence in our communities, and that’s true at the local level as well,” he said. “Our agents volunteer with local organizations, especially around youth sports, donate to local fundraisers, and sponsor events and teams in the Lakes Region. Another difference from many of our competitors is that in the (usually unfortunate) event our insurance products are needed, our customers know who will pick up the phone or answer the door.  They don’t have to call an 800-number, provide an incident number, and speak to a different person every time explaining their situation.  We believe that’s incredibly valuable in stressful times.”

Nicholas Jobin

According to Grigsby, State Farm’s pricing is amongst the most competitive in the industry, although being the lowest priced provider is not their primary goal.  

“We strive to provide the best value in the industry, and achieve that with a strong local presence, high standards of professionalism, and a wide variety of products so our clients’ needs can be met in one trusted location,” he said. “Amazingly, we often find we save our customers significant money over companies with a strictly online presence and far fewer overhead costs.”

He said the underlying principle of Nicholas Jobin State Farm is being responsive to customers and service on their behalf.

“We care and we want to help. Our office is a tight-knit group, and we discuss how important it is to be there for our customers when they need us,” Grigsby said. “The nature of our business is that when people actually use the products that they purchase from us it’s usually not for a good reason. They just got into a car accident, there was water or fire damage to their home, or they lost someone in their immediate family and it’s incredibly important in those moments for us to not only make sure their insurance needs are met, but that we do it with a professionalism, patience, and empathy. We care to do our very best to meet that standard.”

Many customers of Nicholas Jobin State Farm may not be aware that the company offers a variety of life insurance plans, including whole life policies, term life policies and universal life policies and that life insurance is a really an incredibly important part of every family’s financial planning.

“Life insurance is often what pays the mortgage, keeps the lights on, puts food on the table, sends the kids to college, and takes the financial stress off the table when tragedy strikes,” Jobin said. “One of our, if not our most important, duties to our clients is to have an in-depth conversation about life insurance. Planning for that inevitable day not only puts them in a position to live the life you hope for them, but also gives you peace of mind while you’re still here.  In that way it’s the gift that keeps on giving.”

Nicholas Jobin State Farm is at 8 Turning Leaf Drive, Suite 1 in Windham. Call them at 207-572-1009 or visit them on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/my207agent/ <

VIP Tires and Service conducts ribbon-cutting for new Windham location

PHOTO BY ED PIERCE
The owner and founder of VIP Tires and Service, John Quirk, and VIP President and Chief Executive Officer Tim Winkeler, join employees and Windham Store Manager Joshua Martin in a ribbon-cutting ceremony marking the grand opening of the new VIP Tires and Service Store at 2 Amato Drive in Windham on Oct. 8. 

The business relocated next door to a renovated 2,600-square-foot former Tim Horton’s site and added a 7,400-square-foot service center to the facility. 

VIP has 60 stores throughout Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont and Massachusetts and is now able to service up to 50 vehicles a day at its new location. 

VIP Tires and Service is the largest independently owned automotive aftermarket company in New England and the 14th largest in the United States. 

Founded in 1958, VIP Tires and Service is based in Auburn and the new Windham location features state-of-the-art technology, highly skilled and experienced technicians and a warm and welcoming reception area and a comfortable waiting area for customers. 

Friday, October 9, 2020

Nonprofit Spotlight: Move Windham Forward

Now in its second year, Move Windham Forward seeks to provide candidate forums for fall elections.

Maggie Terry, owner of Legal Leaf LLC, and fellow chamber members Jonathan Priest and Heidi Anderson, have been working together to “Move Windham Forward,” giving voice to the thoughts and concerns of the community.  

The organization Move Windham Forward (MWF) is a non-profit, non-partisan group of residents and taxpayers that have come together for what has been identified as common goals and interests of the residents of Windham. The mission as is stated on the website: “We seek to have a better understanding of the issues we face as a community while we contemplate our decisions on leadership, community planning, land use, infrastructure, taxes and technology changes.”

MWF will offer two “meet the candidates” for Town Council and one for the candidates for School Board. Windham residents will have the opportunity to virtually meet, speak to and address concerns with the candidates running for Town Council office and School Board. The purpose of these meetings is to allow residents to get to know the individuals they are voting for so they can make their own personal and well-informed decisions at the local level in November.

Due to the restrictions currently in place on social gatherings, the three meetings will be held virtually via Facebook Live and Zoom.  The School Board candidate meeting will be held from 6:30 to 8 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 14. The two Town Council candidate meetings will take place from 6:30 to 8 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 15 and Wednesday, Oct. 21.

“We want to make it clear that Move Windham Forward is a non-partisan organization,” said Priest. “We do not endorse or oppose any candidate running for Town Council or the School Board. We just want to provide the opportunity for residents to ask questions in order to be well informed as they vote in the elections this fall.”

“We also want to eventually hold Town Hall meetings to provide ongoing conversations in a positive way,” Terry said. “This is a future goal we are working on. Right now, we want to focus on our virtual meet and greet gatherings so they can be as successful as possible.”

MWF emphasizes a core set of concerns that include: Unity, Growth, Taxes and Environment.

Briefly, and as stated on their website:

1)      Unity: North Windham. South Windham. East Windham. West Windham. In such a geographically large town made up of a growing, diverse population it is often easy to fall into our divisions and not feel as one. Especially over the last few years. It is important that we remember that mostly - we all agree on more than we disagree on starting with this; we all love Windham.

2)      Growth 1: Everywhere we look something new is being built; a house here, a subdivision there. It all adds up. What brings many people here is the rural feel but, ironically, as they come that rural feel disappears a little more for someone who was already here. What is the answer? Unfortunately, this is not an old question, it has been around for decades - but to date has been without a real solution. Some say stop growth completely, some say have zero regulation and let landowners do as they wish. The answer is somewhere in the middle.

3)      Growth 2: Windham is one of the fastest growing towns in Maine for residential housing but is significantly lacking in commercial development. Commercial development such as retail, service businesses, restaurants, office space, manufacturing and high density residential are the keys to our economic future. This development would benefit our town, by bringing more of a sense of community and a place people want to be, by helping create new revenues to offset the residential tax burden and by encouraging growth in the places we want, instead of the places we don’t want.

4)      Taxes:  We can’t seem to avoid them, but we can certainly have more of a say in how they are spent. The town budget should reflect the needs and goals of the taxpayers, for today and tomorrow.  Our elected officials and town staff should be constantly working to maximize the return on every tax dollar by spending wisely for today and investing smartly for tomorrow.

5)      Environment: Our environment in Windham is our greatest treasure and must be protected. Windham has some of the most beautiful farm space, open space, forests, water bodies and animal habitats; it’s a large part of why many of us chose Windham. These assets need to be protected, especially our lakes, streams and ground waters, many of which are already on state impaired lists. It is in our control and our responsibility to preserve our environment for Windham’s next generations. 

For more information, peruse the Move Windham Forward website at www.movewindhamforward.org 

We are always looking for volunteers and appreciate any financial support as a working non-profit. 

Friday, October 2, 2020

Business Spotlight: Robbins Property Services

Brody Robbins, the owner of Robbins Property Services is committed to being a trusted partner for
residents with homes and businesses in Windham and Raymond and providing dependable service that exceeds the expectations of customers.

In business for the past two years, Robbins has watched his business grow by offering superior mowing, mulching, seeding lawns, tree trimming, tree pruning, junk removal, yard and site cleanups, along with snow plowing and sidewalk shoveling in the winter months. His commitment to excellence and making prices competitive is unwavering.

“At Robbins Property Services, our intent is to make every customer feel like they are the most important customer we have and we do that by paying attention to detail and exceeding expectations on each job,” Robbins said.

According to Robbins, reliability, work quality and dedication to customer satisfaction is the cornerstone of Robbins Property Services.

“We are fully licensed and insured and we want the same things everyone else does,” Robbins said. “Our pricing for what we do is extremely competitive, reasonable and fair.  We love to work outside every day and to keep our customers happy.”

A former landscaping foreman for several large landscaping companies, Robbins said he learned a great deal about how to successfully operate a business and dreamed of an opportunity to launch his own company before striking out on his own in 2018. Now he employs a staff of four and Robbins Property Services is rapidly cementing a reputation for honesty and impeccable work.

He said as the word has gotten out about his business, he continues to find customers who may not be aware of the extent of landscaping services that Robbins Property Services  offers to the community.

“Everyone typically thinks we just mow lawns,” Robbins said. “But when they discover we can help them in so many other ways, they ask why we didn’t let them know about those other services much sooner.”

For example, Robbins makes his own mulch and can deliver and place it where it’s needed so customers don’t have to make a trip to a box store and do-it-themselves. They also offer an environmentally friendly and carefully blended mixture of salt and sand to help protect driveways and sidewalks during the harshest of winter conditions.

The company also features an array of great deals and discounted costs, such as making available to the public a 14-yard roll off all-inclusive dumpster for up to five days that holds 1.5 tons of waste or trash.

Right now, Robbins and his crew are getting ready to perform fall cleanups and preparing lawns and yards for winter. The company also is lining up customers for winter plowing services.  

Robbins Property Services offers free estimates and are available to work throughout the Sebago Lake Region.

“I founded this company to deliver quality services with the knowledge and experience needed for this community,” Robbins said. “We do what we say we will. And we can be counted upon to get the job done, no matter how tough it may appear to be.”

For more information about Robbins Property Services, call 207-787-1469 or visit them online at https://robbinsps.com/ or on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/robbinspropertyservices/ <

Friday, September 25, 2020

Business Spotlight: Bring Your Own Business 'BYOB' Virtual Happy Hour

Hosted by BNI®-Referral Network to help local and independently owned businesses succeed

Most business owners, solopreneurs and professionals would agree that the growth and success of their company is due, in large part, through their connections with others. This is especially true for local and independently owned businesses where every connection with members in the communities they serve offers financially significant transactions.

But how does a small local business make sincere professional connections and attend networking events under the present circumstances? Windham’s local BNI® Chapter – Referral Network has had continued success in networking and sustaining business connections despite today’s challenges and they want to share their achievements with you.

If you want to succeed, both professionally and personally, members of BNI® Referral Network invite you to learn the secret of their networking success by joining them on an online Bring Your Own Business “BYOB” Virtual Happy Hour event. The BYOB Happy Hour will occur from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Sept. 30. (See RSVP contact information below).

“One’s professional accomplishments do not necessarily have to be dependent upon the ups and downs of the economy or other circumstances beyond our control,” said Mark Morrison, who has been a BNI® Referral-Network for the past three years who Financial Advisor whose office is located in Portland. He has also been a Windham resident for 30 years. "When you are part of a national professional networking group like BNI, you are working with businesspeople who are committed to providing the best possible products and services. We set high standards are are accountable to each other. Our reputation is on the line ev ery time we give and receive a referral. Key to the success of our group is knowing that when we identify an opportunity, the person we refer will be treated fairly and provided with solutions that are best in class. If you desire to grow professionally and build business relationships with other professionals and entrepreneurs, then I highly recommend you join this virtual happy hour."

Attendees will get to share what they do, who they are and what they need for their business growth. They will also get to connect with other local businesses and meet area BNI members to learn how building relationships with others has helped them professionally and personally.

Darlene Pratt, a Personal Lines Insurance Professional with Clark Insurance has been a member since 2015 and Real Estate Broker Rick Yost of NextHome NorthEast, who is number two in the nation for selling residential real estate, will both be available to share their own success stories.

“BNI® has helped me grow my business, focusing on building relationships and making myself invaluable to my clients,” Pratt said. “To date, BNI has generated an average of 20 percent of my business each year.”

“I had heard about BNI through a real estate broker that I used to work with,” Yost said. “She invited me to attend a couple of her meetings. I was attracted by the professionalism of the members and the real sense of comradeship in the group. I joined for those reasons, but the business generated through the group is why I stay.  I have done countless transactions through BNI and it has contributed to my success.”     

The professional growth that BNI® members experience also transforms into their personal lives, helping to reach individual dreams and goals.

“My experience with BNI-Referral Network has helped me in ways I did not imagine when I joined almost two years ago,” Referral Network member, current writer and former editor of The Windham Eagle newspaper, Lorraine Glowczak said. “As I was learning to precisely share with fellow BNI® members the ways they could help The Windham Eagle newspaper succeed, I was learning to do that for myself as an author. I now feel confident when I pitch my book of essays next week to an editor of a Maine-based publishing company."

The concept of BNI® began in January 1985 in California by Dr. Ivan Misner who was looking for ways to increase clients for his personal consulting business. With the help of a few friends and associates, Misner created the first network gathering. Within a year, 20 BNI® chapters were established throughout California. Moving forward 34 years, one can find over 9,500 BNI® chapters world-wide with 20 plus chapters and over 450 members in Maine. Referral Network is among them – and all of this is available to every BNI member.

“That’s a pretty big sales force and is part of the reason for our successes,” Morrison said.

“If your business is just getting off the ground, struggling or booming, I would highly recommend visiting a chapter and seeing all the ways you can benefit and make yourself invaluable,” Pratt said. 

This Bring Your Own Business “BYOB” online happy hour event is open to everyone. To obtain the Zoom link, please RSVP to BNI Member, Rolf Olsen at rolsen001@maine.rr.com. Please note that an RSVP is preferred but is not required. To obtain the Zoom link, go to The Windham Eagle website at business.thewindhameagle.com or the Referral Network Facebook Page.