Thursday, December 31, 2015

Business spotlight - Sebago Lake Collision (POC Collision) - By Michelle Libby

There’s a new collision shop in Windham, although the only new part is the name. At the beginning of December POC Collision took over the ownership and management of the collision portion of Sebago Lake Automotive sales and service. The new name is Sebago Lake Collision and it is still located in suite 2 of the Sebago Lake Automotive complex at 847 Roosevelt Trail. 

POC Collision was started by owners Phil and Kate O’Connor in 2006. They have continued to grow, purchasing local community based shops, where they continue to give customers great service. In Windham, Corey Jordan and his technicians will all remain the same. There will be one new technician assistant that was brought in to train, Clancy said.

“None of them are greenhorns. They very much know what they’re doing,” Clancy said. 

The O’Connors were approached by Mitch and Brad Woodbrey, who own Sebago Lake Automotive, to see if POC Collision would like to take over the shop. 

The shop had a great reputation for solid work, said Clancy. “Now they don’t have to worry about the daily work. There is already a positive reputation there,” she said. The two businesses will be available for referrals. 

“We buy neighborhood places that have ties to the community. We are just taking the managing off their hands so they can focus on other areas of their business,” said Lindsey Clancy, business and marketing manager for POC Collision, which owns collision shops in Saco, Lewiston, Yarmouth, Auburn and now Windham. 

Sebago Lake Collision will handle all collision work, body related work, rust issues and paint. “We will never let a vehicle leave that’s not safe,” Clancy said. “From dings to dents, bumper repairs and replacements, major wrecks or deer and turkey hits,” they handle it all. If customers want to change the color of their car, they can do that too. 

The company is accepted by all major insurance carriers and is on a preferred list for many of them. They also work with clients who want to pay out of pocket for work. 

“It’s our hope that people are safe, but if they need us because accidents happen, animals happen, ice happens, we’re here,” said Clancy.

One of the benefits to Sebago Lake Collision is that there are five skilled, reputable shops all around the area. That means if one shop is booked and a customer desperately needs their car fixed, there are other local shops that can handle the work, said Clancy. “We can transport the car to multiple shops that all perform the same superior level of service.”“Sebago Lake Collision and POC Collision offer a great service experience,” Clancy said. The owners have their cell phone numbers online so that customers can reach them directly. “The expectations are different. The average is one accident every seven years. We’re helping people on their worst day,” she said. Cars can be towed directly to the shop. 

Sebago Lake Collision will be in contact with insurance and with customers as much as they prefer. “We can be in contact every step of the way and take care of it with insurance,” said Clancy. 

POC Collision wants people to know that all the important values and ethics of the shop have not changed. The level of service and the expertise is the same or even better. They welcome customers to stop by if they are nervous to see first-hand that POC Collision is standing behind their clients and their work.  

Estimates are free and can be given anytime just by stopping by or by visiting Facebook. The shop is open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. POC Collision is always accepting applications for skilled workers. For more, visit or call 207-893-8505. 

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Business spotlight - Primerica and Chris Wallace - By Michelle Libby

More stress and strife are caused by financial troubles than almost any other type of issue. Debt is at an all-time high and people are working longer in life because they don’t have the retirement income they need to live.

Primerica regional vice president Chris Wallace wants to help people with their financial health from building a sturdy financial foundation to saving money for retirement or education for children. He is in the business of helping families and individuals achieve financial freedom.

“I’m not here to sell anything except hope and opportunity,” said Wallace.

As a local franchise owner, he owns and operates Primerica in the Sebago region and has seven part-time representatives who own and operate their own business in the financial services industry. Together they serve at least 3,000 clients from coast to coast.

Wallace has been with Primerica for 20 years. “It’s not a job. It’s a vocation – a calling. It’s the only place you get to decide who becomes your client,” he said. The street goes both ways. He interview clients to make sure that the relationship will be one that lasts a long time. Many of Wallace’s clients are dual income, married homeowners with kids. He takes pride that his youngest client turned one this week and his oldest client is in her nineties.

Primerica deals with comprehensive financial services. “We look at all the ways people make and spend money, everything that has to do with debt, protection and investments. More people are dealing with separate or multiple companies in those areas,” he said. “We are a one-stop financial house.” Primerica doesn’t manufacture or create any products or services. “We function as a matchmaker between our clients and companies.” Through this business model, Wallace and his team are able to match companies that have the best products for each client. Their goal is to do the right thing for the client.

“When we’re concerned about what’s right for the client and because we save them tons of money, clients refer us to lots of people,” Wallace said.

“I’d like to provide more financial wellness programs to businesses and to be an outlet and resource.” The number one reason for missed work for employees is dealing with their own financial issues, he said. Presently he goes into businesses and meets with the employees when they need him. Sometimes he finds products for them, and sometimes he helps them with debt restructuring or finding mutual funds for investing.

He is looking for businesses that would welcome him to come into their building two times a month or more often to be available for the employees.

“The reality is that we’re not all financially sound,” he said.

The relationship between clients and agents is based on knowing them, liking them, and trusting them, he said.

“I’m constantly looking for people looking for a career in financial services, who can start on a part time basis,” Wallace said. If the person has the right personality and the people skills, he can teach them everything else they need to know. 

People who work for Primerica make money when matches are made between a company and a client. The companies pay them, usually a one-time fee, for bringing clients to them. The companies are required by law to pay the same amount for each type of product.

“My New Year’s wish is that I’d like to teach and train more people so we can help more people. The seven of us are only at 3,000. I’d like Windham to be the most financially literate city in the State of Maine.”

Wallace said that if someone is interested in what he does, he will chat with them for 30 minutes to see if it makes sense for them.

Sometimes people need help organizing their life financially and other times they may need a career in financial services.

Wallace or any of the agents from Primerica can work remotely from their iPads. “Ninty-nine percent of our business is knee cap to knee cap across the kitchen table in clients’ homes. Wallace gets to know his client’s values and beliefs before he talks about any numbers. “It’s a process, not an event,” he said. He looks at the whole picture and will only suggest changes to those things he can help with. Wallace looks at get out of debt instruments, insurance for auto, home, life, health and long term care, investment products from 529 plants to mutual funds.

“People will spend more time planning for their vacation, which is one time, than retirement which is the rest of their life,” Wallace said.

The Windham Primerica office is located at 48 Tandberg Trail. For more information on a career opportunity or for financial help, call 894-7746 or email

Saturday, December 12, 2015

B & D Creative

When art meets science and math, it’s amazing the lasting home d├ęcor creations that can be created by the artists at B & D Creative in Raymond. Using computerized numerical code (CNC), Bob Martin and his son Dustin design shapes then transmit the pattern to a machine that uses highly pressurized water to cut the object. From fireplace screens to riot gear, the company can cut any material using 60,000 psi and crushed garnet. 
The handcrafted designs can take hours to put into the computer, and once that is completed, the cutting is precise and can take minutes to hours depending on what is being cut and how intricate it is. For example, it could take two hours to cut a large scene after 12 hours of drawing. 

“I can do it with more detail than anyone out there,” Bob said. 
All of their artwork from candle holders to coat racks are made with aerospace grade aluminum. The material is not flimsy or paper thin. “It’s lightweight and won’t rust,” Dustin said. “They use it in planes. It can handle a coat hanger.”

Bob Martin has been working with precision machinery since working in the Navy on a 500-man tender in Vietnam. His background as a CNC machinist and knowing how to draw, made this new business a natural progression. He also has a degree in music education, he said. Using water to create art is a self-taught skill, Bob said. 

Dustin Martin is a mechanical engineer by trade. He creates custom LED panels, tiles and signs for B&D Creative. 

“My wife calls it my hobby,” Bob said.  “I was curious and wanted to do this. I wanted to use my creative side. However, every time I have a hobby it becomes a business,” he added with a laugh. 

The art work has grown into collections featuring loons, bears, happy dogs, happy cats, flying ducks or deer. That’s only a starting point for what B&D Creative can make for a customer. 

“There are so many options,” said Bob from wall art to marble medallions to toilet paper roll holders, the sky is the limit. The metal art is painted with a powder coat that is very safe to use with the fire of the candle. All sconces come with votives so customers can light them immediately. Fireplace screens give tired fireplaces a new look that is personalized. 

The ideas for the various collections came from Bob’s love of wildlife and the interaction with his grandson. 

“If you have an idea, we can draw it,” Bob said. “It’s a great gift idea for the guy or lady that has everything,” he added. Many of the projects are available right away. Custom work takes a little bit longer. 

For those with new homes and new additions, custom tile work makes a great focal point. B&D can create intricate designs to create the look that is personal for the individual or family. 

In addition to the artwork, he is able to help professional clients create tools for their businesses. The machine can cut fiberglass or metals for special awards, foam or custom packaging to ship delicate items. They encourage people with questions to reach out to them. 

Prices for the art work ranges from $29.95 to $2,000 depending on the piece and the number of cuts needed.  

Bob is a member of the Service Disabled Veteran Owned Small Business organization (SDVOSB). “We know what quality is,” said Dustin. 

Call for an appointment or visit their newest distributor, Essentials on Route 302 in Raymond.
For more on B&D Creative or to order items, visit, email or or call 207-321-9569 or 207-229-3367.  

Maggie's - A Fine Hair Salon

Maggie’s – A Fine Hair Salon has been a staple in Raymond for many years. The stylists, Maggie Hann, Joanne Honan and Sam Riley, can’t imagine doing hair anywhere else. They’ve been working in the Raymond area for 25 years and four years ago, opened Maggie’s, where they have been making women, men and teens feel confident and happy with their hair styles.

This week, Maggie’s relocated to 1263 Roosevelt Trail, only one building down from their old location, next to Essentials Gifts. The stylists couldn’t be happier with the expanded space. The new modern building has a great feel and glamorous look from the shiny wood floors to the full length mirrors at each station. 

“We were ready to expand because we out grew our space,” Hann said. The new salon is much larger and open, with a beautiful custom reception desk and a bright, upscale feel. There is a nicely designed color station along with a private shampoo room. 

The three stylists attend conferences and seminars seasonally to keep current on the trends.
“This summer was a short hair streak,” said Riley. 

“Now it’s more volume. They’re getting away from the straight hair,” said Hann. 

Hair color has always been popular and Maggie’s is known for being color specialists and doing it flawlessly. They are experts at creating fun, unique, sassy styles. 

Simply put, “we’ve seen it all and do it all,” said Honan. The team offers cuts, colors, facial waxing, up-dos, Keratin treatments and perms. They are also Brazilian blowout certified – which is a professional smoothing treatment that is the most innovative and effective in the world. 

Customers come from all over the area and some even travel from Portland and south, according to Hann. The goal of their entire job is to make the clients happy and confident. 

“We want to work in a serene, welcoming, comfortable environment and want our clients to feel that way when they come here,” said Hann. They offer beverages upon arrival. “This is a relaxed, no drama zone.” They create an environment they want to work in, which is a positive place. 

 “We come to work with joy and gratitude. People really need us,” said Hann. 

Even after decades in the business, all of Maggie’s stylists still have a passion for what they do. “We make a difference in people’s lives all the time and that’s what keeps us passionate about our craft.”
Clients are encouraged to bring in pictures, but to also use their stylist’s years of experience to create the perfect look for them.

With the expansion, Maggie’s is looking to bring on more stylists to join the team. They are looking for awesome stylists who are ready to hit the ground running. “We are looking for people who are full of life and positive energy,” said Hann. 

The salon is open six days a week (closed on Sundays), but hours vary by stylist. All of the stylists are independent contractors. Walk-ins are welcome, but appointments are great too. The team is very flexible. They have many products available that would make exceptional gifts for the holiday season and gift certificates are available. 

For more information or to set up an appointment please call 655-2454. You can also find them on facebook/Maggie’s - A Fine Hair Salon.

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Business spotlight - Merry Christmas Trees

The typical Christmas tradition of searching for and finding a family Christmas tree, cutting it down and bring it home to decorate is alive and well on River Road in Windham. The pungent tang of the trimmed trees hangs in the crisp air at Merry Christmas Trees farm, while families search for the perfect tree, bow saw in hand.
This family business has been planting and cutting trees at 105 River Road since 1989. Now under the ownership of Doug Fortier, whose full time job is as the director of public works in Windham, the trees are trimmed and ready to become a part of a special holiday celebration. 

“I have farming in my blood,” said Fortier, who is a fifth generation farmer, though it hasn’t always been trees his family has farmed. When he works the farm it’s different from his day job. “I can do my own thing,” he said. “I can disappear into my head.” The quiet in the field is only disturbed by a chirping bird.
Merry Christmas Trees only sells balsam fir trees, which are the traditional Christmas trees. He works them year round to make sure they are the fullest and best trees around. 

The cutting will begin the day after Thanksgiving. Cutting the trees is easy. The employees, usually Fortier or his brother-in-law or sister tell you in which field the trees are being cut, they give the person or family a bow saw and some bailing twine to wrap up the tree for transportation. The tree is paid for and off it goes. 

When a fresh tree is cut put it in a bucket of water because it will drink a quart of water each day. At the beginning trees might need to be watered two or three times a day, Fortier said.  

The trees are $45 no matter the size and won’t drop needles like trees that have been cut for a long time.
One of the misconceptions about real trees is that they will dry out quickly and can cause a fire, but Fortier said that was not the case with a fresh cut tree. As long as they are watered consistently, they will not drop many needles and the fire risk is very low, especially with today’s LED lights. Some places that sell trees have them shipped in, which means that they have been sitting out of water for sometimes a month or more. If that is the case, then trim a quarter-of-an-inch from the bottom and water it, but watch it closely. 
“You get what you pay for,” he said. The trees being cut this year at Merry Christmas Trees are near the back of the property and are seven to eight years old. 

“In tree farming, patience is a virtue,” Fortier said. 

Some of the best memories Fortier has are of families who return from the field with their tree and tell him how beautiful it is or how they had such a great time. Or he can hear the kids in the fields laughing and having fun. 

“That is a reward that most farmers don’t get. I grow trees, I don’t grow food,” Fortier said. He doesn’t get the comments about how delicious the fresh produce was, he looks for the smiles on people’s faces.
Christmas trees need care year round. Fortier and his friend Tony Beaulieu, an engineer from Lewiston, have been working together for 13 years. “There’s been quite a progression with the trees,” said Fortier.
“It’s cool coming year to year and seeing the changes. The trees are well maintained and very clean,” Beaulieu added. 

In the spring Fortier brings in a crew of family and friends to plant seedlings. This year it was 1,700 planted in under three hours. 

“There is a lot of work, seven to eight years to have a tree,” said Fortier. Two feet trees are hand snipped and each year something is done to each tree. “That’s how you get those trees,” he said. Each tree is trimmed the way it makes the most sense. Some trees are skinny and tall, and some trees are fat and short. “Trees are like people, some grow quick and some grow slow,” he added. 

The farm is open from the day after Thanksgiving to Christmas Eve, unless they run out of allotted trees for the year. 

For those thinking of getting into tree farming, some advice form Fortier. “If they are willing to work hard, not have a lot of free time and a willing to wait seven or eight years for a return, tree farming could be for them,” he said with a smile.

Merry Christmas Trees is part of the Maine Christmas Tree Association. 

For more or to see pictures of happy customers, visit Merry Christmas Trees on Facebook or call them at 318-2012.