Friday, July 29, 2016

Flip to a Different Eagle Section

Business spotlight - Main Stage Academy - By Michelle Libby Stage Academy offers instruction in dancing, singing and acting, but under the direction of
owner and teacher Suzy Cropper, it offers much more for the students who are enrolled. 

“I believe all children have talents and abilities,” said Cropper. At Main Stage the students find out who they are. They develop confidence to speak for themselves, not to be afraid of a crowd and can interact with all generations. “They get a pretty well-rounded experience,” Cropper added. 

Main Stage Academy is located at 824 Roosevelt Trail in the Sebago Plaza. It is not just a dance studio. They offer classes in voice, piano, and acting as well. Cropper hires some of the most talented performers in the area to teach classes for students from ages 4 to 18. 

In many communities there is an emphasis on sports, but Main Stage is offering an alternative or an addition to sports. Those who do sports as well as acting, dance and singing find they are stronger and more agile on the playing field, said Cropper. 

There are two aspects to Main Stage. There are the academy classes, which is training in individual disciplines. The specific training helps students prepare for the performing tracks. The youngest students are encouraged to take musical theater before getting involved in individual classes. The academy classes have two recitals per year in January and June. Classes run September to January and February to June. “They are learning twice as much and can’t get bored,” said Cropper. 

The company performing group, which is the second aspect, work from September to June and are divided through an audition process by age and ability. They learn specific songs and dances in musical reviews. They travel away from the studio for shows including performances at Storyland in Glen, NH. In the performing groups the students have costumes, microphones and put all of their training together. 

Each year the company performs The Polar Express Christmas show. The audition group Stand Out teaches through performances about bullying and other social issues that they share with school children and others. 

Each company group has a theme they work with, which might be the eighties or radio hits, Muppets or movie themes, said Cropper. 

Through music, dancing and acting, the students learn to memorize content in a short period of time, they articulate well, project their voice and learn to use their bodies in a healthy way. Keeping time to music helps students in math and all of the skills they learn help them organize their brain paths.
“They learn tools that help in everyday life,” said Cropper. 

Her favorite part of teaching is around the middle school age when students “want to do it, not just because their parents want them to do it. It’s exciting when they start to love it themselves.” Cropper loves working with all students but finds satisfaction when a shy child surprises his or her parents with the positive changes they have made in a four month class. 

Cropper was a music, dance and theater major in college and graduated with a bachelor’s of fine arts. She’s been teaching voice for 24 years. “It’s kind of just what I do,” she said. 

“My greatest joy is seeing others succeed as they rise above perceived limitations and work to realize their potential.  I love helping students develop their talents so that they can tell their stories with skill and confidence.  Together we can dream big, work hard, and experience the magic,” Suzy said.

Main Stage started in her house five years ago, but moved to the new location two years ago, giving them more opportunities for classes. Her husband Brice grew up singing and dancing and although he is an audiologist by trade, he teaches acting at Main Stage and is one of the company’s biggest supporters. 

“Brice and I traveled around the world singing and dancing before we were mom and dad to five children,” Cropper said. 

Academy classes will start September 12. Auditions for the performing company groups will be on August 24. For more information or to register for classes, visit or find them on Facebook or Instagram.

Friday, July 22, 2016

Business spotlight - Tommy Docks - By Michelle Libby

The lake house is ready, the boat is in the water, but what about a dock? Waterfront living is better with Tommy Docks created to the design specifications of the homeowner. Tommy Docks is not only a reliable, 30-year-old company, but it is a leader in reasonable dock pricing. The company expanded into Maine in 2010. 

Tommy Docks is based out of central Wisconsin, started by Tom Southers, who was looking for a dock for his home. He created a bracketing system that has made designing a dock easier.
“Whatever you want to do and with minimal work,” was how Tommy Docks sales manager Owen Jones described the company. The system does not use back plates and it doesn’t have five or six parts to do a corner, he said. 

The bracketing system used by Tommy Docks does not put weight on screws which could sheer off. The weight is put on the brackets cradled under the actual frame. 

Tommy Docks offers a variety of material choices to build an L-shape, T-shape or U-shaped dock. The traditional Tommy Dock is kiln dried cedar with navy blue bumpers, but options like aluminum or PVC decking provide a maintenance free dock experience. 

With 30 to 40 percent growth each year over the last 8 years, the company has expanded to offer ladders, dock bumpers, cleats, and waterproof LED lights. 

The company is sold in all states and can be found at the Windham Home Depot, as well as area Ace Hardware, True Value and online. The online option offers free shipping to the closest store.“They can order a full dock at the pro desk at Home Depot,” said Jones. The pro desk can help design what the customer is looking for. “That sets us apart,” Jones added. “We have the dock they want and what they need for their location.”

The company asks many direct questions to make sure the dock that is ordered is the correct one for the location. The type of dock changes based on the depth of the water, the floor of the lake, waves and what it will be used for. 

“For many it’s sort of a foreign thing. They say, ‘where do I even start?’” Jones said. 

Once a dock is purchased, Tommy Docks tries to stay in contact with their customers through social media and asking them to send in pictures to receive chances at prizes. 

“We are trying to save the consumers money and encourage them to get out there and have fun,” said Jones. 

Tommy Docks stands out because of their customer service. “They can call us and we’ll help them every step of the way, even help with other dock systems. It’s those kinds of personal touches that are unparalleled,” said Jones. 

Floating docks are available. Every customer has a unique system. One man has a five piece gangway out to a large platform built for stability. He uses the dock to get over a marshy area. 

“Imagination is your limit when it comes to design,” Jones said. 

Price conscious consumers look for these docks as they are the most affordable dock system with the same or better quality as the more expensive brands.   

Tommy Docks does not do installs, but certain dealers they work with do have dock installers. “The whole point of our system is that within about five minutes of reading the literature you’ll know how to do it,” said Jones. 

Prices for T-shaped docks range depending on the type of materials used. They can be $1,000 for a basic cedar system or the sky is the limit with a more elaborate dock.  

Everyone is price conscious today. “Ask yourself, ‘Do I really need the Cadillac or can I get by with the Honda?’” Both are well made, but the bells and whistles might vary, said Jones. “It’s cost effective and easy to do yourself. It goes back to the whole mission,” he added. Use the money saved to have extra fun, buy fireworks, use for gas for the boat. Have fun. 

For more information, visit or

Friday, July 15, 2016

Business spotlight - Stroudwater Lodge - By Michelle Libby

This fall a new senior living community will open up in Westbrook off Stroudwater Drive. Appropriately named, Stroudwater Lodge will be a premiere living facility for active and involved seniors who want to enjoy their golden years. Stroudwater Lodge is the second project at the Northbridge Company’s property that offers the continuum of care for the seniors of Maine. The original building on the property is a memory care center Avita of Stroudwater. 

The new facility will offer 95 independent and assisted living units offering both private and semi-private options. The average age for residents is between 75 and 80 years old. 

“It’s not about the building. It’s going to be beautiful. It’s about the lifestyle,” said Courtney Freeman, senior executive director for Stroudwater Lodge. 

Programming for the residents varies, but is created based off of their interests and what they enjoy.
“We want to do what’s right for the residents,” said Freeman. Residents are met where they are at for services and activities. If they need no in home care services, they don’t receive any. If they find they need a few more services, they can add that to their plan. At Stroudwater Lodge they don’t have to move every time they need to bump up the amount of assistance they need, unlike other facilities.
“They don’t leave their friends or community,” said Freeman. 

Each unit has a monthly rental fee. The space is either a two bedroom, one bedroom or a den or studio with a kitchenette with granite countertops, bathroom and balconies. All units offer laundry and weekly cleaning services. Residents can be individuals or couples.

Stroudwater Lodge is part of the Eat Fresh, Eat Local movement and with direction from Chef Jamie Bell, the lodge will serve “wonderful food” three times a day, which is included in the monthly charge. The meals are served restaurant style with options at each meal. There is also a private dining room for parties and special occasions. A pub and tavern round out the culinary offerings. 

Other amenities are the four-season porch, fire pit, walking trails, theater, gardens, room service, a full fitness center, spa and beauty salon. 

For the artistic, there will be art classes with an artist in residence program and for those who like to exercise there will be Zumba and Tai Chi classes. Of course if one of the residents should suggest something new, the staff at Stroudwater Lodge will make it happen, said Freeman. “A lot is based on what residents want,” she said. “It’s a lifestyle. We focus on who you are as a person and what you like,” said Freeman. 

The three-story building houses a library and many sitting areas for visiting and quiet time. All floors are accessible with two elevators. All of the apartments and common areas are handicap accessible.
“They don’t have to invest all of their money with us,” said Freeman. Unlike properties where the residents “buy in”, Stroudwater Lodge strictly does monthly rents. Right now, the company has pre-opening prices that will go up once the facility opens. Those who sign up now also have the option to choose which apartment works best for them.

Stroudwater Lodge is currently holding events for the new residents to begin building their community. They have done outings to the SeaDogs, seen local plays and other trips suggested by some of the new residents. 

The Northbridge Company sees the need for housing in Maine that offers a variety of services and activities for seniors. 

“We want them to live a happy, fulfilled, purposeful life,” Freeman said. “We’re invested in the residents, family members and their associates.” 

Stroudwater Lodge is looking to fill close to 70 jobs including nursing, housekeeping, servers and cooks.

Children of seniors are often watching and worrying over their parents and wondering about options for them. Many times it’s the adults who no longer want the responsibility of taking care of a home.
At Stroudwater Lodge, the parents have many options to play cards with friends who live in the building, go on an outing or do nothing at all. A 91-year-old resident wanted to fly a plane, so the staff made that happen.

Freeman recommended that children and parents have an honest discussion. Ask the questions, “What would you give up? What would you gain?” 

“They can enjoy the great things out there,” said Freeman. With shopping, cruises, duck tours and more Stroudwater Lodge is working to get rid of the stigma of senior living facilities. 

“I’m excited for the seniors of Maine. I think this will benefit them a lot,” Freeman said. 

For more information on Stroudwater Lodge or to schedule a tour, call Mary Willson, marketing director at 207-854-8333, stop by their location at 116 Landing Road in Westbrook or visit They are also on Facebook. In July, the company is holding lunches at DiMillos in Portland from 11:30 p.m. to 1:30 p.m. to provide the opportunity for people to learn about Stroudwater Lodge.

Friday, July 8, 2016

Business spotlight - Moose Landing Marina - By Michelle Libby

A bad day on the water is still better than a good day at work. For those who work at Moose Landing Marina in Naples, their work is on the water so they get the best of both worlds.

“We sell family fun,” said general sales manager for Moose Landing Marina Will Monson. They are the largest seller of pontoon boats in Maine and the new dealer for Ranger Tugs, the only one in the state. They offer a full-service marina that can take a customer from the purchase of a boat to mooring it and everything in between. 
Owned by Steve Arnold, Moose Landing is all about the family feel and breeding the fun lifestyle for their customers. Arnold encourages his employees to get out on the water and enjoy the Maine lakes connected to the marina, which is located on Brandy Pond, but is accessible to Long Lake and Sebago Lake. With 43 miles of lake access from Moose Landing, the marina is perfectly situated for enjoyment on the water. 

“I tell my employees and customers to hit the sandbars. I work and boat with them. It’s not just the sales, we believe in the stuff we sell.” Arnold said. 

The marina has been in the same location since the 1950s and became Moose Landing in 2003. Arnold purchased the marina in 2013. 

“Customer service is our strong point. Customers are treated with respect,” Arnold said. 

Moose Landing offers a long list of boat services like mechanical work, Fiberglass-ing, reconditioning, electronic services, boat hauling, indoor and outdoor storage, winterization and upgrades and customization. Moose Landing sells six brands of pontoon boats. It has an experienced sales staff that can help a customer find the perfect fit. They ask a lot of questions about activities and what the boat will be used for. There are six to eight new boats in the water at any given time for test drives. 

The newest boat for sale at Moose Landing is the Ranger Tugs, a crossover type vessel that is well appointed and has many amenities for day trips or longer overnight excursions. They also have entry level boats. They sell Regal Boats, Supra and Moomba ski boats, Hurricane deck boats, top of the line Premier Pontoon boats, Palm Beach pontoons, Sweetwater Pontoons and more. 
Moose Landing earns many awards in the sales arena earning high customer satisfaction index scores and landing in the top five in the country for dealers. 

Moose Landing has a commitment to service as well. “All technicians go to school and are certified. Training is expected and that is dovetailed into customer service,” Arnold said. company has 17 employees, but grows to 30 in the summer with seasonal help. 

“We hire good people,” said Moose Landing Marina general manager Jason Allen.

Moose Landing also sells aluminum docks, boat lifts and does brokerage from their location at 32 Moose Landing Trail off Route 302 in Naples. There is also a store for boat gear. 

Not a boat owner yet? Moose Landing rents a total of 68 boats, 28 from the Naples location and they have a satellite location at Point Sebago Marina. The rental area is run by manager Jean “The Warden” Martin. Moose Landing attends many boat shows around New England drawing boaters to Maine and the region so you explore the many options. 

Moose Landing will drop off boats in the spring and pick up boats in the fall from the smaller lakes in the area. Customers pay for the service, however, the ease and convenience is great for those who can’t launch a boat by themselves. The marina handles approximately 1,000 boats a season. 

Moose Landing Marina has 195 slips and valet service for those who don’t want to keep their boats in the water. Boat owners can call ahead to have their boats ready for a day on the lake. When they arrive back at the marina, they leave the work to Moose Landing, who will put the boat away until the next outing. 

The marina provides fuel and pump out services and a club house with a bath house and showers.
“It’s a real community here,” said Tracy Coughlin, marketing director for Moose Landing Marina. “People just show up and have fun.” 
 “We promote family fun on the water,” said Monson. Who assures those looking for boats that “yes, you will use it.” He recommends that those interested in boating take a rental boat out for the day to see if they like it. “No one hates it,” he added. 

Arnold wants Moose Landing to be front and center in people’s minds when it comes to trading in or up. And with their breadth of services, customers can benefit from stopping by to see what they have to offer. 

Moose Landing’s sister company, also owned by Arnold is Yarmouth Boat Yard. Yarmouth Boat Yard is a smaller marina with a few rentals and deck hands. They also have a wide selection of boats.
For more information, visit or find them on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, or call them at 207-693-6264.

Friday, July 1, 2016

Flip to a Different Eagle Section

Business spotlight - Big Lake Marine Construction - By Michelle Libby construction comes with a lot of rules and regulations, not to mention the trickiness of
moving rocks, working in the water and protecting the environment. Big Lake Marine Construction co-owners and partners Robbie Durant from Durant Excavating and Jim Winn of Sebago Dock and their teammate Al Brousseau, the general manager for Sebago Dock and Lift can do any type of construction in and around the water. They also do island transport and delivery service on Sebago Lake and to a smaller extent on other lakes in the area. 

“We sell happiness. People who want our products can afford us. We do a lot of different things from moving stones to reclaiming a beach,” said Winn.

When Brousseau goes to a property for a consultation, he considers what can be done at the property and tries to match that with what the property owner has in mind. “If they ask for big, elaborate concrete piers and moving all the rocks on the waterfront,” said Brousseau. It can’t always happen, but more times than not they can satisfy their needs.

Winn has been in the area working on the water for 30 years in different capacities. He and his team know the lakes and how to make the waterfront better for all to enjoy. 

The company works on concrete piers, boathouse repairs and rebuilds, excavating on islands or moving rocks on the shore. After a consultation to make sure what the customer wants is doable, the permits are applied for and then work can begin. Big Lake Marine walks the customer through all of that paperwork, making it easier and can do the work professionally and quickly.  

“It fits in naturally with what we do,” Winn said. “We can do everything. Move rocks, build docks and take them in and out. We are a complete waterfront services company. We’re the only company who can truly do it all.”

Big Lake Marine has a small barge and a 32-foot boat customized for delivering supplies and items to a job site. The barge can travel to Brandy Pond and Long Lake as well. 

Eighty percent of their customers are summer property owners from outside of Maine. They also consider themselves waterfront welding specialists and can fix a dock while in the water.

The most popular thing customers do is add or fix stone piers with concrete tops. His favorite project thus far has been a stone pier with a concrete top and stainless steel handrails. 

The company does beach reclamation where the sand from the water is pumped out and back up onto the beach. They can also make access easier from the beach into the water so that homeowners don’t have to scale the rocks to so swimming, Winn said. Additionally, they do salvage work for boats and personal watercrafts that have broken away and might have ended up on rocks or sunk. 

Each winter the ice moves the rocks as it freezes and thaws. “They are constantly moving around,” said Brousseau. 

They work with private home owners and associations as well as some of the marinas on the lake. In the fall Sebago Lake is dropped four or five feet and many times the people who live there can’t use their boat past September because their dock isn’t long enough. “With DEP permission we can extend the boating season,” said Brousseau. 

Big Lake Marine Construction can also build timber structures on the land for homeowners. 

The most difficult part of the job is “Permitting,” said Brousseau. “And, finding the solution for the problem a customer wants to do,” Winn added. 

“We’re trying to make a positive impact on the lake and please our customers,” said Brousseau.
For more information, visit, call 207-595-8679, email, or visit them on Facebook.