Friday, October 24, 2014

Business spotlight - Above & Beyond Cleaning - By Michelle Libby

Living life as passing ships in the night wasn’t working for Derek and Stephanie Lombard. Derek worked in corrections and Stephanie worked for Mercy Hospital on opposite shifts until 2010, when the pair opened Above & Beyond Cleaning. The company cleans for commercial businesses in locations from Waterboro and Lewiston to Freeport and Portland.

“Why work for the man, if you can work for yourself,” Derek said. He started cleaning at night at the Gorham Savings Bank in Waterboro and built the business so that Stephanie could leave her job and work with him. 

The company does carpet cleaning, window cleaning, BCT waxing and other janitorial services. All of the work is done behind the scenes at night. 

“When we come in you don’t have to worry. When we come in nobody’s going to see us,” Stephanie said.
They use products familiar to clients, like Simple Green, Windex and Eco-lab for floors. If customers need special products, the company would meet those needs too. 

“We do everything from a 500 square foot building up to a 14-story building in downtown Portland,” Stephanie said. 

“And everything in between,” Derek finished. 

Above & Beyond Cleaning does bids for jobs differently than most cleaning companies. They work up a customized cleaning plan and timing needs, and instead of basing the job on square footage, they base it on the job. “We work with each client on an individual basis,” Stephanie said. 

The worst problem they see is dust. “People don’t like to dust. We clean behind computers, baseboards and on top of high surfaces,” said Stephanie. “We don’t cut corners…”

“We clean them,” Derek finished. 

Above & Beyond Cleaning is known for its “customer service and attention to detail,” Derek said. “We are available 24/7 by phone or email. We’re there in the middle of the night.” 

As bosses, the Lombards are involved in what their nine member staff is doing every day. 

“We do quality checks to check that our standards are being adhered to,” Stephanie said. “We like to think our name says it all,” she added. 

When there are flu outbreaks, Derek said that “They don’t question our cleaning at all. We disinfect keyboards, door handles, hard surfaces.” 

All of the employees are trained in attention to detail, are reliable and have criminal background checks.
The company has a goal of managing and growing its accounts from 15 to many. “We’re a part of their presentation to their customers every day. It’s rewarding,” Stephanie said. 

Above & Beyond Cleaning would like to work with more banks and credit unions who are consistent in the cleaning they are looking for and Above & Beyond Cleaning would like to  grow with them as they expand. 

“We’re looking forward to providing you a cleaner future,” Derek concluded.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

The Sebago Summit - By Michelle Libby

Tuesday, business leaders from all over the Sebago region gathered at Saint Joseph’s College for the second annual Business 2 Business Summit hosted by the Sebago Lakes Region Chamber of Commerce.
Under the direction of Chamber’s executive director Aimee Senatore, the event featured a keynote address by Kevin Hancock, president and CEO of Hancock Lumber and a panel discussion about The Power of Partnership, featuring local business men and women.   
"I was exceptionally pleased with the enthusiasm of the participating exhibitors and their willingness to break out of their comfort zones. I witnessed and have heard about many new partnerships that were formed, which is the whole point,” Senatore said. 

There were other seminars throughout the day one featuring Richard Dyke, owner of Windham Weaponry, and others talking about maximizing your marketing, taking business to the next level and social media. 

“Feedback has been very positive. Attendees found the keynote inspiring. They felt the educational workshops were quite valuable. The end of the day keynote panel was very engaging,” said Senatore. “Overall I am proud of this region and the momentum that continues to build.”

Kevin Hancock led the day with his motivational speech on transcendence. Business owners should be trying to transcend rugged individualism, business and tribalism. No man is an island. Sometimes doing everything by oneself isn’t the best way for business. 

“Don’t confuse being busy with being successful. It’s easy to be busy,” he said. And the third, tribalism, Hancock encouraged the audience to look outside of their tribe, outside of the family, community, company…look at big challenges, he said. 

Hancock was diagnosed with a voice disorder and has had to adjust his professional life to work within the limits, he said. He listens more. He shares the power in the company. And, it’s working for him and for his employees. 

He is also working on improving performance and reducing the number of hours employees work. Through a yearly survey, Hancock Lumber can track the attitudes and feelings of its employees and can change course as needed. Hancock Lumber was named number one in the forestry industry in the best places for people to work poll. “I’m putting the work back in its place,” said Hancock, who now spends time on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in southwest North Dakota. 

Hancock encourages his employees to “Tell me more about that,” so they will tell him what’s happening in the company. 

He is dedicated to strengthening voices, he told the group. 

Other advice that came from the speakers and seminars were “If you pick good people and can retain good people, you can grow your companies,” said Dyke. “People are the key. There has to be a part where everyone feels valuable and that what they did was just as important as what others did.” - Dyke
When it comes to marketing, “keep it simple,” Luanne Cameron from State Farm in Standish said. 
People need seven contacts from you before they will remember you, she said. Want to know what strengths one has, visit, Cameron recommends.

Bob Baiguy from Bob the Screenprinter said “The first impression is the most important impression.” 

Woody Woodward from Dare to Succeed encouraged people to join organizations and position themselves that way. “I’m a firm believer in doing something first. First, second and last get remembered.” 

There were drawings for prizes and many giveaways from the businesses in attendance. Exhibitor winners as determined by the chamber were: Most Creative: Blossoms of Windham and Cheetah's Cafe & Bakery and most interactive: Sedona Wellness

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Business spotlight - North Windham Sears Hometown Store - By Michelle Libby

Shopping for any season, from lawn and garden to snow and ice, exercise season to football season, North Windham Sears Hometown Store is the place to fulfill any needs. 

Owned by locals Bob Yates and Robert Yates, Bob’s son, this local store has the backing of a major company with the feel and customer service of the local mom and pop store. 

“Our main forte is appliances, lawn and garden, power equipment, tools and electronics,” said Bob. “We may be a small store, but we have access to everything Sears has. We can order it for you.”

Sears guarantees the lowest prices and they price match if necessary. “We have over 7 million parts – almost any brand, we can get you parts,” Bob said. 

Bob and Robert have owned the store for 17 years and are now seeing second generation customers and parents bringing their children in. “We know many of our customers on a first name basis,” Bob said.
Sears is known for its Nationwide service with 10,000 service techs that will come to a home to fix appliances or lawn and garden equipment. If the tool is portable, like a vacuum cleaner, it can be dropped off at the store to go to the central service center. 

“We have in home service on large lawn and garden, tractors, snow blowers. One thing you won’t find at the big box stores. We have 10 times more items, service and satisfaction,” Bob said. “We pride ourselves on service after the sale.” 

Another service Sears offers is a master protection agreement that covers an appliance or a tractor and all of the electronics on it, which most warrantees don’t cover. If the stove can’t be fixed, Sears will provide you with a new one. 

“We’re here to do business,” said Robert. Don’t need a stove, how about new washer and dryers on pedestals, which means you don’t have to bend over to get the clothes or a new stainless steel refrigerator that’s energy efficient, or a dehumidifier for the basement. 

Sears carries one of the best stainless steel cleaner and rang top cleaner, according to Bob.
Need a new mattress? They have some of those. Patio furniture will now give way to game room and exercise equipment to keep everyone busy this winter. 

If tools are on the list, Sears carries Craftsman, DeWalt and all the major brands. 

One of the biggest sellers for the store is vacuum cleaner bags. That is probably because in a leading consumer magazine Kenmore from Sears placed three models in the top five ranked vacuum cleaners.
Kenmore is the number one brand of appliances, which Sears sells, but they all carry all 10 major appliance brands. They also have more appliances on display than any other store in the area.
“We’re a small store, but a big footprint,” said Robert. 

The local Sears store can also ship items to students at college or to children who have moved away. By calling the North Windham store directly for orders, Bob or Robert can tell you exactly which part is needed. Items can also be shipped directly to the store to avoid shipping fees. 

“It’s always better to come in. We can ask all the different questions that need to be asked before placing the order,” said Robert. 

“We have better service. We go that extra step to make sure the customers are happy,” said Bob. “We’ll appreciate you. Shop local with us and we’ll give service after the sale.” 

Sears in North Windham is located at 771 Roosevelt Trail in the Windham Shopping Plaza.  

The North Windham Sears Hometown Store is open Monday through Saturday from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Orders can be placed online or at 893-2370. To email the local store send it to Visit

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Business spotlight on Naturally Jammin' - By Michelle Libby

Jeddy Nevells knew something had to change the day her husband was diagnosed with diabetes in 2011. “He needed to change his life and he started to use sugar-free products,” she said, noting that many of the sugar-free jams and jellies contain a lot of preservatives. Jeddy tried sweetening her foods and cooking with unfiltered, raw honey which didn’t affect his blood sugar like processed sugar. Then she started making jam. 

It took one year for her to figure out a recipe that worked. Then she became licensed by the state and with her kitchen license she opened Naturally Jammin’. During the first year, Jeddy’s husband, Mike, lost 150 pounds. Today, down 165 pounds, Mike is no longer considered a diabetic. 

“To know you’re helping people and they enjoy it, what more inspiration do you need,” Jeddy said.
Although Naturally Jammin’ has not done any scientific testing, the feedback has been tremendous. “Sixty plus diabetics are able to use my products and it does not affect them,” said Jeddy. From what she has found, the honey disburses differently in the body compared to processed sugar. 

“My product is different. No one else sweetens with honey,” Jeddy said. 

Another mother bought the jam for her son who loved peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, but couldn’t have the jelly due to his ADHD. She bought the jam for him and gave him a thin coat of jelly on his sandwich and it didn’t affect him adversely. He made the next sandwich heaping the jam on, according to Jeddy, and again, there was no noticeable effect. The mom was sold. 

Naturally Jammin’ sells 10 products up from the three she started with. 

This season’s big sellers are pumpkin butter, apple butter, and peaches and scream (which contains hot pepper flakes). Jeddy has created all of the flavors herself and sells them at area craft fairs (this year she’ll be at USM in Gorham, Bonny Eagle and Augusta) and at a few farmers markets. She has a permanent display at the Saco River Winter Market, where she and Mike also do demonstrations. She also is on shelves at area stores like Whole Foods in Portland. 

She works three or four days a week from 8 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. making jam. 

Naturally Jammin’ is hoping to become a household name though the Martha Stewart American Made Awards where she is a finalist in the food category. She found out about being a finalist while at the Cumberland Fair craft show. “How do you control the emotions in front of a whole bunch of people?” she asked. By taking a break and dancing out of sight of her fellow cooks. 

“Even if I don’t win, only a handful out of the State of Maine were chosen. I’ll be happy for them.” The 10 winners out of 800 finalists and 200 wildcard entries share $200,000 and that $10,000 in cash can be used to help build their businesses. The winners earn a trip for two to New York City and get incredible exposure for their product on the Martha Stewart website, Ebay account and advertising on Martha’s SIRUS radio station, according to Jeddy. “You spend two days with her,” which in invaluable.
Voting continues at until October 13 and the winners are announced on October 17. 

“I want to spread this jam throughout New England. That’s my goal to get out there in the market so people can enjoy it,” Jeddy said. 

Jeddy and Mike also have some of their own bees that they collect honey from. A family friend is a master beekeeper and has been teaching them as they go along. Jeddy uses between 60 and 80 pounds of honey every two weeks, so she also has to buy honey from area distributors. One bee produces 1/12 of a teaspoon in its lifetime, she said.  

For the last few months, Jeddy has had to take on help for her business. Her younger daughter, Alysha, is working part-time and will be added full-time soon. Jeddy also hopes her older daughter, Christel, will work with her in the future. 

To try Naturally Jammin’ visit or find Jeddy at a local market or fair.