Sunday, April 28, 2013

Spotlight On: Premier Properties

Carrie Colby owns Premier Properties and runs the business with complete control. She knows which of her clients are looking for property, which ones want to sell, and she makes sure that what her clients want, they get.

Colby bought the business from Liz and Steve Harvey in 2008. She learned about real estate from Liz before she bought. It has been a rollercoaster ride since then and now with over $18 million in sales between the eight agents, with $8 million in sales belonging to Colby, she doesn’t expect to slow down.

“Things are changing all the time. The way we do business changes all the time. It’s a lot more complicated than just driving around showing pretty houses,” Colby said.

Premier Properties, especially Colby, sell and list a lot of waterfront properties. “This is the listing season,” she said.

Colby has a background in advertising and graphic design and she knows the power of getting her name out there. She creates books containing her listings and puts them around the area. She makes sure it’s her properties that are featured in real estate books.

Business comes from referrals, people she knows and has followed up with, and a lot is Internet based, she said.

Colby is very involved in her community. Living and playing in Raymond means that she knows the area and sells a lot of houses here. “One house brings in $65,000 into the community,” Colby said, emphasizing the addition to the economy by hired workers and shopping needs.

Service during the sale is a strong point for Colby. She is thorough and will often take the time to stop by a house again to take new pictures for a website or brochure. “I get excited about new listings,” she said. “The worst thing is to have a client to buy and not be able to find what they want,” she added.

Her agents work from Harrison to Old Orchard Beach and everywhere in between, but primarily in the Sebago Lakes region.

“It makes sense to own a home,” she said. “Whether $79,000 or $2.3million, I sell them all and I treat everyone the same,” Colby said.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Spotlight On: Octagon Cleaning and Restoration

There are things that most people would refuse to deal with concerning their homes. Some would move before tackling a mold issue, but when homeowners are standing knee deep in water and there’s mold crawling up their walls, Robert York and his team at Octagon Cleaning and Restoration arrive on scene to save the day.

“It’s a less than glamorous business, but there was a lot of growth potential,” said owner York. When he started the business in September of 2002, it was as Mainly Cleaning Services doing commercial floor and carpet cleaning. Now they concentrate on water damage projects, water extraction and other restoration projects. In 2005, York went to get properly trained in the business and did a certification program.

Now their business consists of 90 percent mold work, remediation projects and water damage, York said. He also hired Dave Brooks, who has 13 years of experience in cleaning heating and cooling systems. “Our focus is indoor air cleaning and quality,” said York.

Octagon employs 15 people, 10 of them full-time.

“We are a 24-hour emergency service based mold remediation business,” he said.

Their job is to clean and sanitize buildings to prepare for reconstruction. When a homeowner or their insurance company calls, someone from Octagon has to be on the scene within 24-hours with drying materials in place. Octagon employees with travel anywhere in Maine and New Hampshire.

“It’s a delicate balance between scheduled and emergency projects,” said York.

When going into a job site, they are fully prepared with full-face masks and protective gear, according to York. One place they cleaned had pipes that burst three months before the problem was found. When they finally got into the condo the mold looked like a giant beard and there were mushrooms growing out of the carpets.

“It’s very rewarding to go into something completely inhabitable, that 99 percent of people would sell and move out of, and making it good, habitable again,” said York. “It’s a miserable process, but we’re good at what we do.”

Usually, Octagon has on average four remediation jobs going at a time, but during the Patriot’s Storm a few years ago, they had 50 jobs at once.

They do fire damage cleaning, foreclosure cleaning, mold-hygienic cleaning, attic mold cleaning on top of the other types of jobs they do.

If a property is improperly dried it can cause health issues down the road, even to the point of causing death. There are many checks and balances for Octagon with third-party testing and verification.

For more information, visit or call 893-0002.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Spotlight On: Wireless World

When Greg Gagnon began working in the cellular telephone business, 80 percent of phone usage was making calls. Very few people texted and no one could surf the web. Now, according to Gagnon, who co-owns Wireless World in Windham and Saco, the reverse is true. The under 25 generation are texting 80 percent of the time, up to 6,000 texts a month, and talking only rarely, he said.

“It’s a way of life. It’s something you need to turn around and go back for, like your keys and wallet. It’s something you won’t do without,” said Gagnon.

At Wireless World they carry Samsung phones and others, which use the Android operating system or Blackberry phones. Wireless World also offers a 15-day guarantee, so if a phone isn’t right for customer, they can return it and only pay for the services used. The most popular phone right now is the Samsung S3, said Gagnon. “It has the best of everything until three weeks from now when the S4 comes out,” he said.

With a phone, people can email, surf the web, price shop or use Google Wallet. “Phones give driving directions, entertainment, social media and even can be your own hotspot,” said Gagnon. “Today’s technology is a lot tighter. There are a lot more towers than in years past. There are towers every three or four miles with data coverage,” Gagnon said. Up north, it’s every 20 miles per tower, but they are stronger.

Gagnon and Troy Pfeiffer, opened Wireless World in 2000 and became an US Cellular agent in 2004. They have seen ups and downs in the cell phone industry. “We’ve definitely seen a lot of change,” Gagnon said. In the past, customers could see a difference between carriers, but now, “it’s pretty much the same. It’s kind of like a gas station, you can get gas anywhere,” he said, adding that people are doing more comparison shopping now.

Keeping up with technology is for the very dedicated. “It’s a day to day struggle. New phones come out monthly,” said Gagnon. Diehards keep their phones for six or seven months, then replace them with something new, he added.

If someone wants the latest and greatest, Gagnon has no problem telling them to wait because something else is coming along, but there is an advantage to being the second one to get it and let the other guy work the bugs out, he said.
Many families are no longer keeping a home phone line. They are adding a line for $10 and keeping that phone plugged in at home, Gagnon said.

“It is hard to compete. We’re a much smaller carrier, but we treat people not like a number, but as a person.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Spotlight On: Q-Team

One thing we have no shortage of in Maine is trees. With trees comes the growth and encroachment on houses, roads and views. No one knows that better than Q-Team Tree Service out of Naples, which has been doing tree work for 28 years.

“We are a residential tree service company which does tree trimming, pruning, brush chipping, stump grinding and more,” said president and general manager Robert Fogg. Their primary territory is within a 20 mile radius of their office, which puts Windham and Raymond right in the center. “This is so we can give better customer service,” he said. 

They specialize in taking down trees that are difficult to move because of the close proximity to houses or water, Fogg said. There are special regulations when it comes to shoreline property. “We pride ourselves of staying on top of regulations so we won’t get anyone in trouble,” said Fogg. Q-Team has worked around garages, taken trees off roofs and even, once removed a tree from a bathroom, when it grew too big for the hole the builder left for it within the house. 

At the height of the season, Q-Team employees up to 18 people and in the off season they drop to eight. They are still in the off-season, charging off-season prices until May, said Fogg. Most of the employees including Fogg are state licensed arborists. Everyone who does tree work must have a license or be under the direction of a licensed arborist, according to Fogg. There are three employees who do free estimates and tree safety inspections, Fogg, Adam Gosselin and Aaron Gosselin. 

Q-Team carries liability insurance and workers compensation insurance on their workers. “It eliminates any liability to the homeowner due to damaged property or injured workers,” said Fogg.   

Every year Q-Team volunteers to put up flags on the causeway in Naples and mount the flag in Harrison. They’ve also been known to decorate Christmas trees using their bucket trucks. 

Q-Team also has the equipment to back up their knowledge. They have three bucket trucks and three log trucks for hauling brush and wood. If the wood is useable that they remove to sell to various companies and adjust the price of the job to reflect the wood value, according to Fogg. They also send some of their brush and limbs that they don’t use for landscaping mulch off to be used as fuel to generate electricity. 

“Our key to success is the team we have together. We have a team of awesome people in place who are incredible,” Fogg said. In 2007, Q-Team merged with Cook’s Tree Service and they still use that name as well. 

Q-Team is always available with a full-time receptionist, voice mail and an answering service. They also have a website and can be found on Facebook at QTeamTreeService.

Get Ready for Some (Financial) Spring Cleaning

Spring is in the air — or, at the very least, it’s on the calendar this week. And if you’re like many people, you may be looking forward to doing some spring cleaning around your house and yard. But this year, why not go beyond your physical environment and do some “sprucing up” of your financial situation?

Here are a few possibilities to consider:

•    Clean your portfolio of “clutter.” When you go through your house, you may find some clutter in closets, storage areas, on top of desks, under beds or just about any other place. Your investment portfolio also may contain clutter, in the form of investments that no longer meet your needs. Consequently, it’s a good idea to “de-clutter” your portfolio periodically by selling those extraneous investments and using the proceeds to help purchase others that may be more effective in helping you make progress toward your financial goals.

•    Consolidate your investments in one place. As you clean your house, you may find that you have many common items, such as brooms, hammers, duct tape and so on, scattered among various rooms. It might be more efficient to keep all such objects in one central location; this can help prevent you from needlessly replacing or duplicating them. As an investor, you may have an IRA with one financial services provider, an old 401(k) with a different one, and some other investments with yet another institution. If you consolidated all these investment vehicles with one provider, you might be able to save some fees and expenses. Perhaps even more importantly, by uniting all your investments in one place, you may find it easier to follow a central, unified investment strategy.

•    Check for “gaps” in your financial strategy. Every spring, it’s a good idea to check your gutters for leaks, your sidewalks for cracks and your paint for chips. By doing so, you’ll help protect your home and surroundings. To help protect your family’s future, it’s important to have adequate life and disability insurance.

•    Plant seeds for growth. When spring arrives, it’s time to plant the seeds for your flowers and vegetables. As an investor, you also have to be concerned about growth. Specifically, you’ll want to consider investments that have the potential to grow enough to help provide the financial resources to meet your long-term goals, such as a comfortable retirement. Consequently, you should review your portfolio to determine if it contains an appropriate amount of growth-oriented vehicles for your individual objectives, time horizon and risk tolerance.

•    Seek professional assistance. When you’re tidying up for spring, you may find some jobs that you can’t do alone, such as cleaning a heavily stained carpet, unclogging a blocked drain or trimming the highest branches on a tree. For these tasks, you might need to call in trained professionals. It’s the same with investing: You can do some things on your own, but for complex tasks such as creating and maintaining an appropriate investment strategy, you may need to work with a financial professional.

Consider putting these spring-cleaning tips to work soon. They may just help put some sparkle and shine into your financial “house.”

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

Dancemakers sold to instructor by Michelle Libby

In a letter addressed to students and parents, the owner of Dancemakers, Tyler Wing, announced that he is selling the business as of June 2013 to Nicole Getchell, who has been a teacher at the dance studio for three years. 

Five years ago, the dance studio was thrust into the arms of former manager Wing after the former owner considered closing the business and walking away. 

“Today, Windham's dance studio has transformed from a bankrupt entity with less than 70 students, to having students drive from all corners of Maine, in some cases one and a half hours one-way, just to take our classes and perform our works,” said Wing. 

Wing moved to Arizona earlier in the year. “I had never forgotten the desire to see and live in another part of the country, as well as explore my other potential career opportunities and put my skills as a small business owner to use in an entirely different capacity. Finally, after five years of putting plans on hold, I decided to see what else life had in store for me. My only regret is that I cannot simply uproot my studio, my teachers, my families, and my dancers, and recreate a west coast version of Dancemakers right here in the desert!” he said. 

Getchell has a long list of accomplishments which she brings to Dancemakers and although she has been working at Portland School of Ballet, she will no longer work there, utilizing all of her talents with the Dancemakers’ students. 

“The decision to sell the studio was made with enormous consideration to every single person it would affect with extra attention paid to my employees, my families, my dancers, and even the Town of Windham itself,” said Wing.  

Dimitra Corsetti will remain as official studio manager until June 15 and as a teacher and at the helm of the Adrenaline Dance Program, according to Wing.
Getchell lives in Sebago with her husband and son.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Spotlight On: RE/MAX Alliance

RE/MAX Alliance is growing. On Monday, RE/MAX and Chase Custom Homes, both owned by John Chase, moved into their new, custom-built building at 290 Bridgton Road in Westbrook after spending 18 years in Windham. 

Chase, who as a builder, was developing relationships with other firms on the Chase side of the business, finally decided in 2011 to open his own real estate office to help work with his clients and to produce turn-key packages. 

“That’s a huge advantage,” Chase said. “There no risk (for the buyer) involved in building the home. We’re one of four or five in the whole State of Maine who do this,” he said. The Chase side of the business is a full construction company. They do things as simple as fixing doors and installing gutters to electrical and plumbing work. 

RE/MAX Alliance has a huge inventory of listings. Chase has been in real estate for 27 years. He feels that because each agent has a brick and mortar office, people know where to find them. 

“We know what we’re doing,” he said.

RE/MAX Alliance has and wants more quality brokers. “We’re known for top producing agents,” Chase said. He said his agents focus on what the houses are worth and have quality listings. They sell more homes because their houses are priced right, he said. Last year Chase himself sold 28 units. The state average was 16. 

There are no territories and RE/MAX Alliance has listings all over the greater Portland area and Lakes Region. “(RE/MAX went to court to say they’re number 1,” said Frankee Chapa, the social media and marketing manager. “They do things right every day.” 

Chase hopes to have 75 agents working for RE/MAX Alliance. The building they moved to will also house a law firm to do closings and an appraisal company. They also supply moving vans, said Chapa. 

“It’s most satisfying to see the young couples who have never had a home so excited that they now own a piece of America,” Chase said. “They own something that’s theirs. I was there to help them commence the deal.”

Direct Sales & Me by Barb Maurais

Free products, discounts, fun, training, networking, national conferences, new friends near and far, helping people solve problems, mentoring, coaching, traveling, supporting charitable causes...these are many of the reasons that I am an independent small business owner. 

When I began my direct sales journey, I was intrigued with the notion of getting lots of products for free or at a discount. When I realized that I could earn a commission on the products, I was hooked. My first venture involved kitchen gadgets and having my guests show me how to use them. Later, I became fascinated with wickless warmers and specialized in counseling friends on acceptable scents. 

Almost two years ago, I found my niche. Bags and totes. Who knew that a passion for such things would lead to gift cards, free products, incentives, earning a trip to national conference in Atlanta, commissions, leadership opportunities, connecting with new and seasoned friends, fun, iPad, laughter, overrides, philanthropic support and so much more? 

I also have learned a valuable life isn’t about the bags, it’s about providing value and service to my peeps. It’s about lightening up and having fun. It’s about going to a party and having my host, guests and me forget that I’m the consultant as we paw through the bags making connections, telling stories, laughing and building relationships. 

*Have you thought about being your own boss? If so, consider a direct sales business. Start up costs are minimal, kits include products, sales materials and support is provided on the corporate level through website resources, video and audio trainings, teleconferences, local meetings, regional and national conferences.

*When considering direct sales companies, look for the DSA (Direct Selling Association) logo. This endorsement shows a commitment to the industry’s highest ethical standards. 

*Are direct sales companies pyramid schemes? No, direct sales company representatives sell products and get paid commissions on their sales and overrides on their downlines sales. If the people you recruit don’t sell something, then you don’t get paid. Pyramid schemes are based on making money when people join, not when they sell.

Barb Maurais, Independent Consultant. Barb has dabbled with selling many products, but believes she has found her calling, maybe.