Friday, February 23, 2024

Business Spotlight: Gracie Gym Maine

A year has passed since Gracie Gym Maine first opened to the public in Windham and it’s safe to say that the facility has been a tremendous success story in the Lakes Region.

Gracie Gym Maine is celebrating its first
anniversary and offers Brazilian
Jiu-Jitsu training for ages 4 and up at its
7,000-square-foot facility in Windham.
Gracie Gym Maine is located at 770 Roosevelt Trail #6 in the Shaw’s Plaza in North Windham and draws students from all over the state. It offers Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu lessons to everyone ages 4 and up and the program’s head coach, Vinicius Garcia, is widely considered one of the most elite Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu instructors in the world. Garcia has been training in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu since the age of 16 and has competed in many of Brazil’s top events under renowned coach Rodrigo Castro who promoted him to black belt in 2015.

“We have kid’s classes, teen classes, beginner classes and advanced classes, both in Gi and No-Gi,” said Gracie Gym Maine owner Michael Smith. “Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ) is a self-defense martial art system and combat sport, focused on grappling and ground fighting. It promotes the concept that smaller and weaker people can successfully defend themselves against bigger, stronger, and heavier attackers.”

Smith said that the one-year anniversary of Grace Gym Maine and its ongoing success is cause for celebration in the community.

“We are thrilled with the families and individuals we have been helping in their personal journey in Brazilian Jiu-jitsu and seeing people transform is what it is all about for us,” he said.

According to Smith, transforming lives through Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is gratifying and is the reason that he decided to open Gracie Gym Maine in Windham.

“The transformation is really remarkable,” Smith said. “Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu will change your life. It is a profound mental, physical, and spiritual experience.”

He said that the size of its academy and facility at more than 7,000 square feet and featuring more than 3,000 square feet of mat space makes Gracie Gym Maine an exceptional experience for participants. Other amenities available at Gracie Gym Maine are a weight room and a recovery lounge with an infrared sauna and cold plunge. Additionally, there is plenty of seating and five changing rooms.

Smith said that Gracie Gym Maine provides an outstanding user experience that is second to none in Maine.

“The facility rivals Jiu-Jitsu academies in major metropolitan areas in size, amenities and instruction level but has been able to keep pricing below industry standard,” he said.

Originating in Brazil in the early 20th century, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu focuses on using leverage and submission holds to defeat opponents, making it an effective form of self-defense for people of all sizes and abilities. It is an effective form of self-defense because it teaches practitioners how to stay calm and composed in high-pressure situations.

Along with teaching physical techniques, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu also emphasizes the development of mental toughness and a strong, positive mindset. Its practitioners learn to be confident and mentally prepared for any situation, and its intense, full-body workout will help participants get in great shape and improve their overall physical fitness.

All Gracie Gym Maine professors are certified Black Belts through the International Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Federation.

Thanks to its popularity, Gracie Gym Maine is currently expanding its onsite clothing store connecting with Skilled Violence, a lifestyle apparel brand, and has also created a dedicated area for kids and their parents to watch television while their siblings or loved ones are training.

Since Grace Gym Maine opened, another significant event has taken place.

“Our head instructor, Vinicius Garcia, and academy administrator Nayara Morais Cunha, had a baby, Miguel,” Smith said. “Vinicius and Nayara have been absolutely incredible with their dedication, as well as the half-dozen coaches that have helped out. And I’d like to give a special thanks to Amy, who ran our front desk while Nayara was away for maternity leave.”

In October, Gracie Gym Maine took fourth place at the Jiu-Jitsu New England Championships in Worcester, Massachusetts among 120 other academies, displaying immense dedication, skill, and discipline resulting in 12 gold medals earned at the event, which was sponsored by the Jiu-Jitsu World League. In December, some Gracie Gym Maine participants were honored for their hard work during a special belt promotion ceremony.

“At Gracie Gym Maine, everybody is important,” Smith said. “We’re here to help everyone experience a transformation, but it’s not easy. It’s hard and the mat is a great equalizer. We offer a personal, professional, and spiritual challenge from the very finest instructors.”

For more information about Gracie Gym Maine, call 207-383-2228 or visit Find them on Instagram under graciegymmaine <

Friday, February 16, 2024

Business Spotlight: Peak Electric

No job is too large or small for Peak Electric of Windham.

Rich Brown, owner of
Peak Electric, is 
experienced to tackle
all your residential
electric needs and
brings both
affordability and
quality to every job.
Owned and operated by Rich Brown and his wife, Mikala, Peak Electric offers several types of electrical services, including a comprehensive range of services include electrical panel replacements, service upgrades, new construction installations, remodeling, and troubleshooting. He is equipped to repair underground and overhead wiring, work on breaker boxes, switches, outlets, dimmers, and a variety of other projects for homes.

The company’s versatility is evident as Peak Electric can do everything from the installation of ceiling fans to washer/dryer hookups to installing dishwashers to testing electrical systems for safety and replacing components that are worn or outdated.

“I got started in business strictly based off an idea,” Brown said. “Since a kid it has been a dream to be an entrepreneur, I never knew what type of business I wanted to own. I discovered in my mid-20s that I really enjoyed electrical work and that's when the idea became reality. I immediately started my journey to become a business owner.”

Along the way, Brown served in the U.S. Navy and gained invaluable experience performing electrical work for several other companies before launching his own business on Jan. 1.

“The most significant aspect of Peak Electric is our unwavering commitment to community service,” Brown said. “Beyond providing excellent electrical services, we take pride in actively contributing to the well-being of our community. This dedication, coupled with our focus on customer satisfaction, sets us apart. It's not just about completing projects; it's about making a positive impact on the community we serve.”

According to Brown, the goal of Peak Electric is simple.

“We want to make people’s houses feel more like a home,” he said. “To me, that’s very important. We take pride in offering competitive pricing for our services. We understand the importance of affordability for our customers while maintaining the highest standard of quality. Our commitment is to provide transparent and fair pricing, ensuring that our community receives exceptional value for their investment in our electrical services.”

Exceeding customer expectations, using quality parts and delivering a quality service is part of what separates Peak Electric from competitors.

“We respond promptly to all calls,” Brown said. “We show up on time and when we say we will. Our commitment to excellence is reflected in the quality of services we provide. We prioritize precision, safety, and customer satisfaction in every project.”

Peak specializes in smart home integration.

“There are plenty of smart home services that could be more cost-effective, enhancing convenience and energy efficiency,” Brown said. “Under energy efficient lighting solutions, switching to LEDs is a must, it not only reduces energy consumption but also offers long term cost savings due to their extended lifespan. The benefits to upgrading electrical panels for increased capacity ensure they meet modern energy demands and preventing potential hazards.”

The customer feedback for Peak Electric has been overwhelmingly positive.

“Peak is outstanding. very attentive to your needs and helpful with great suggestions in how to make it exactly what you want and even better. Very respectful and non-intrusive when working with you. Fast responses and very thorough work. I highly recommend him for any and all your needs. Very pleasant staff and a real pleasure to do business with.” Bob Carlista

“Peak Electric did a superb job. I contracted this company to ensure my generator outlet and panel were working properly. Not only did Peak show up on time, but they were also really accommodating to my time. Upon arrival, Rich quickly realized and acknowledged the cables were not properly installed to the panel. He went above and beyond to set up my generator, and even added the oil and gas to get my generator ready to go. Rich tested the generator and the panel, ran my house on generator power for a while, tested the generator battery and more. Peak is definitely an honor-based company and I highly recommend it.” Joe Feliciano

“Peak Electric did an awesome job installing our new hot tub. The service was quick and very clean. Rich is very knowledgeable, professional, and efficient. I would recommend them to anyone looking for any electrical service. He knows his stuff!” Julihana Militao Contois

For more details about Peak Electric, or to make an appointment, call 207-332-0075 or send an email to Find them on Facebook and on Instagram at @peakelectricme. <

Friday, February 9, 2024

Business Spotlight: Maine Community Solar

It may sound like a concept directly from the future, but community solar farms are generating power and sharing it for residences and businesses alike and reducing electric bills in the process. Based in Portland, Maine Community Solar educates consumers about the benefits of community solar programs and helps them enroll in one that’s right for them. Locally owned and operated, Maine Community Solar envisions a sustainable future by making the state a leader in sustainability and renewable energy.

Maine Community Solar employees are active in the 
community, such as recently volunteering to serve a meal
at a Preble street homeless shelter in Portland. The company
educates consumers about the benefits of community solar
programs and helps them enroll in one that's right for them.
A solar farm is a collection of photovoltaic solar panels that absorb energy from the sun, convert it into electricity and send that electricity to the power grid for distribution and consumption by customers like you. Community solar farms are mounted to the ground instead of rooftop panels and come in all shapes and sizes.

“Maine created a free community solar program for residents to promote locally produced renewable energy and to offset the costs of this transition and other electricity cost increases for Mainers,” said Tony Napolitano, the owner and founder of Maine Community Solar. “Most people don't know this program exists to benefit them, are misinformed, or don't understand how it works. We are here to educate people and help them participate.”

According to Napolitano, services provided by Maine Community Solar are free.

“What we do is help customers understand Maine's community solar program and join a local solar farm so they can support local renewable energy and save on their electricity bill,” he said.

The company serves the entire state of Maine and all customers that pay an electric bill with CMP or Versant.

Napolitano said the best aspect of his work with Maine Community Solar is having an opportunity to assist everyday people understand renewable energy while helping protect the planet in the process.

He has worked in green building and renewable energy for 20-plus years. He grew up in Maine and attended Portland High School. He launched his own marketing company, Roundhouse Media, in 2010 and founded Maine Community Solar on Jan. 1, 2021.

“When I learned about community solar and the fact that anyone could benefit from renewable energy with no upfront costs, long-term commitment or other barriers to entry, I thought it was a game changer,” Napolitano said. “I signed up for a local solar farm right away and made it my mission to spread the word as far and wide as possible.”

Significant savings for Maine consumers is the foundation of Maine Community Solar’s success.

“A Mainer that pays an average electric utility bill can save more than $22 per month or $250 per year on their electricity costs, or about 15 percent,” Napolitano said. “Many people can save more. We've helped hundreds of Maine businesses and thousands of Mainers join a local solar farm. Customers we helped in 2023 will account for more than 80,000,000 kwh of locally-produced, renewable energy powering Maine homes and businesses. We focus on doing the right thing and the right way. If you put customers first, the success takes care of itself.”

Well respected for taking an educational, community-based approach to advocating for renewable energy and its benefits, reviews posted online for Maine Community Solar are exceptional.

“I don’t usually write reviews, but: Maine Community Solar! Everyone should be doing this. I had been meaning to make the change to solar energy for a while but kept pushing it off. A gal named Sydney followed up with me a few times and I’m so glad she did. The signup is super easy (you use your log in information with your existing electricity supplier, which couldn’t be simpler!). I’m not super tech savvy, but Sydney walked me through every step to make sure we got it right. You save money, support the growth of local solar farms, and basically don’t have to do a thing in the process. Do it!” – Emily Smith

“Great experience signing up with Maine Community Solar. Very professional, helpful, and responsive. The agent was personable and really aided me through the process. Excited to save 15 percent on my CMP bill.” – Bill Nalls

“I tried to sign up for solar electricity and kept hitting roadblocks. Maine Community Solar made it easy.” – Susan Hall

To arrange a meeting with one of Maine Community Solar’s Education Specialists to learn more about what they can do for you and how they can help you start saving through community solar, call 207-888-3670 or visit them online at You can also find them on Facebook at Sign up now and receive a $50 gift card as a thank you for helping to create a sustainable Maine. <

Friday, February 2, 2024

Business Spotlight: Sebago Fiber

For many living in rural communities around Sebago Lake, internet service is spotty at best. But Sebago Fiber, a local, family-owned company, is striving to change that by providing reliable, fast fiber internet service to homes and businesses in the region.

Andrew Davis is passionate about
providing reliable, fast fiber internet
service to homes and businesses
in the Sebago Lakes Region and 
owns Sebago Fiber serving towns 
and communities in the area.
Offering vital internet services to those that are currently unserved or underserved, Sebago Fiber takes a different approach by working directly with local towns and building its service in phases in areas where there is the most demand. Larger telecommunications companies don’t have a financial incentive to do that because the cost of updating the infrastructure is too high in rural towns with small populations and potential profits for them are too low.

“Being able to bring something as necessary as reliable internet service to people as a small local business is vitally important,” said Brandie Shydo, Sebago Fiber’s Director of Marketing and Community Engagement. “We offer excellent customer service and make it simple for customers by offering support services by email and comprehensive online account access. We don't require customers to wait on the phone for hours or visit an office to get help if they need it.”

Shydo said Sebago Fiber’s internet services are more reliable than cable or DSL and the company proactively monitors its systems as well as its customers' services so they can respond quickly if there is an issue. Its technicians and support staff all live and work locally.

Because the company is small, it’s able to provide simple transparent pricing, making cutting the cord from big cable easy and offering freedom of choice for television and phone services. Alternative services often come at a lower cost while still providing desired functionality such as DVR services.

Company owner Andrew Davis said that Sebago Fiber’s mission is to provide fast, reliable internet to its neighbors.

“Our pricing is generally competitive with other services,” he said. “We do not offer ‘introductory’ or promotional pricing that will sharply increase in 12 to 24 months “Our pricing is transparent and published online, so it's easy to understand what you're getting and how much you'll pay.”

When Davis began spending summers on Frye Island, he came to realize that working from home there would be virtually impossible because of the lack of quality internet service. He investigated working with the existing service providers to improve service, but they were uninterested. Having a technical and software background, Davis decided to start Sebago Fiber. The company was able to build out services that cover 100 percent of Frye Island in just two years with 94 percent coverage in one year, beating its initial goal of 60 percent in three years.

“We build our systems for reliability. Light traveling over fiber does not have the limits of copper telephone or cable networks,” Davis said. “Fiber is not susceptible to every power fluctuation in a storm causing power surges down the lines and frying the cable modem. We build our systems with reliable backup battery and generator power. Two thirds of internet customers on Frye Island have switched to Sebago Fiber from their previous provider. Our customers' only complaint is that they can no longer blame a bad internet connection for not being able to work remotely in Maine.”

Sebago Fiber serves Frye Island and is expanding to the towns surrounding Sebago Lake including Sebago, Naples, Standish, Raymond, Casco, and Windham in the White’s Bridge Road area and north of there.

Davis said Sebago Fiber is currently conducting a survey to gauge interest about where to expand next.

“If you want reliable fiber internet, please complete our online survey at so our company and your town know the area with the most interest,” he said. “Where we build next is based upon community response. We’ll go where the interest is. If you want a better alternative service, go take the survey.”

The company has been in business since 2021 and its leadership team is four people covering engineering, support, billing, and customer service. It also has four field service technicians. Shydo said openings are available for full and part time positions for additional field technicians and support staff to be hired in the local Sebago Lake region.

For more information about Sebago Fiber, visit, send an email to, or call 207-544-6811 or find them on Facebook under SebagoFiberWiFi. <