Maine: A Place of Business 2021

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Celebrating Maine companies, their achievements over the years and the ways they give back to the communities that support them.

A Place of Business A Special Advertising Section of the Bangor Daily News l Friday, January 29, 2021


MAINE: A PLACE OF BUSINESS • Bangor Daily News Special Advertising Section • January 29, 2021


Riding the wave of the


s the New Year unfolds, many are wondering what the future holds for Maine’s business community. President/CEO of Eastern Maine Development Corporation Lee Umphrey said the general health of Maine’s businesses during the current pandemic is uncertain. The prognosis, he said, depends upon successfully curtailing the pandemic and ensuring the continuation of substantial federal assistance which he said has had a profound effect on Maine businesses.

“Our Congressional Delegation — Senator Collins, Senator King, Representatives Golden and Pingree — have been steadfast in advocating for and supporting our businesses and communities,” said Umphrey. “The support of the federal government has been essential in helping Maine businesses get through these pandemic-driven hard times.” According to Umphrey, all Maine businesses and nonprofit organizations have been impact-


ed in some way. He said food and hospitality industries have been the hardest hit by the pandemic. Nicky’s Cruisin Diner, in Bangor, closed last year after more than 30 years in business. The most recent round of federal aid from the CARES Act, in December, provided much needed grant money for qualified businesses within those industries. Umphrey met

Photo Above: Maine Heritage Looms, typically used to produce blankets and bedspreads, were used to produce fabric for thousands of face masks earlier in the pandemic. PHOTO COURTESY OF MAINE

Continues on page 4


MAINE: A PLACE OF BUSINESS • Bangor Daily News Special Advertising Section • January 29, 2021

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MAINE: A PLACE OF BUSINESS • Bangor Daily News Special Advertising Section • January 29, 2021

Continued from page 2 previously with Governor Mills to determine how the aid should be distributed. In regards to retail businesses who have survived, Umphrey said pivoting to an online presence to market and sell products has been a key component in their success. He said many businesses adjusted their business practices to accommodate needs created by the pandemic, including retail establishments offering curbside pick-up and restaurants offering takeout. He added that some businesses thrived by making pandemic-related products. “One example is Puritan Medical Products of Guilford, manufacturer of swabs and single-use medical products, receiving a huge contract from the Department of Defense, in coordination with the Department of Health and Human Services,” said Umphrey. “EMDC helped create a workforce pipeline to more than double their workforce at two locations.” Maine Heritage Weavers in Monmouth

also jumped on board to produce much needed facial masks. The company is known for their iconic Bates bedspreads and blankets, woven on the premises, and shipped all over the world. With multiple looms, they were in an ideal position to weave fabric for masks. Vice President of Sales and Marketing Bianca Cloutier said their team tried to find a way to help locally. So they began making mask prototypes which they could make completely in-house. Cloutier said that a hat company, who was a business partner, invited them to join an even larger supply chain for masks. “One of our partners, Love Your Melon, reached out to us to form a national supply

chain of manufacturers that could produce masks at scale,” said Cloutier. “We were to provide material and ship it to larger cut-and-sew factories in California, Minnesota, Kentucky and New York.” At the peak of the pandemic, four Maine Heritage looms, typically used to weave Martha Washington’s Choice, Abigail Adams and Queen Elizabeth bedspreads, were dedicated to mask production. Their employees wove enough material to produce 5,000 to 8,000 masks daily, said Cloutier. That production not only helped to supply the critical need for masks but also provided more work for their employees when bedspread production slowed temporarily between April and May because their sup-

“While it is difficult, if not impossible, for these businesses to replace lost revenues, many have found innovative and creative ways to continue to serve their customers,” said Neuman.

pliers in other states temporarily closed. “We feel very lucky to be working and are seeing consistent demand and support from our customers around the country and here in Maine,” Cloutier said. “We are operating at 100 percent capacity.” New Balance is another company that shifted gears to help produce face masks. In a June 2020 press release, Chief Operating Officer Dave Wheeler reported their employees produced more than one million masks in their Norridgewock, Maine and Lawrence, Massachusetts factories between March and June. He also reported their efforts to supply masks helped keep workers engaged while retail stores temporarily closed during the early months of the pandemic. Their factories have since shifted back to their athletic footwear production. EMDC has supported the opening of several new businesses through two of their revolving loan funds, said Umphrey. One of those, in the Katahdin region, is Knot Plastic whose mission is finding solutions for consumers and industry by

MAINE: A PLACE OF BUSINESS • Bangor Daily News Special Advertising Section • January 29, 2021


Maine Heritage Weavers employees produced enough fabric to make 5,000-8,000 face masks per day during the peak of the pandemic. PHOTO COURTESY OF MAINE HERITAGE LOOMS

making plastics out of biodegradable and compostable materials. “Their success is a model for others in that they had a clear vision, passion and mission,” said Umphrey. “They worked closely with EMDC and others in the community to garner support and interest for their innovative and environmentally friendly product.” There are many resources to assist business owners during these tumultuous times, Umphrey said. The Payroll Protection Act and the CARES Act funding are two resources expected to continue during the next year. He said there are also free advisory services for Maine business owners including SCORE, Small Business Development Centers and EMDC which can

provide help. “The key is not to be afraid to ask and to keep in mind that seeking help is not an admission of failure but recognition for hard work to get through these unprecedented, turbulent times,” Umphrey said. Deb Neuman, President/CEO of the Bangor Region Chamber of Commerce, said many businesses in the Bangor area changed practices to comply with CDC guidelines or changed how they did business to serve their customers in new and innovative ways. “While it is difficult, if not impossible, for these businesses to replace lost revenues, many have found innovative and creative ways to continue to serve their customers,” said Neuman. “Retailers

have gone beyond brick and mortar to ramp up their online sales and social media presence, gyms are offering virtual zoom training, and restaurants are offering curbside pickup. With more of us spending more time at home, businesses providing products and services to improve our homes and home offices are seeing an uptick in business, and speaking of homes, real estate sales are benefiting from people who can now live and work remotely and would prefer to live in Maine.” A major challenge during the pandemic, said Neuman, has been knowing how to plan for the future. She said that whether it’s a restaurant needing to order food for the coming week or a concert venue booking performers for the season, not knowing how to plan has been very frustrating. “That said, first and foremost, they want to protect their employees and customers and are grateful for all of the support they have received from the community as we continue to face and navigate through uncertainty for at least the near future,” Neuman said.


Communications Director for the Maine Department of Economic and Community Development Kaye Foye said they’re very concerned about the impact of the pandemic on Maine’s small businesses. She said businesses that require a high density of people and a high touch customer experience were forced to change their business practices to adapt to the restrictions caused by the pandemic. “Maine businesses have worked extremely hard to implement protocols to ensure that customers and employees remain safe,” Foye said. Although the impacts of the pandemic have been significant and widespread, Foye noted there have been some bright spots. She pointed to the spike in real estate sales, adding that rural markets have experienced immigration they haven’t seen in years. She also reported increases in boat building, bike sales and the sale of building supplies. She said that building supply sales were up 18.4 percent from March to September 2020 compared to the same time period in 2019. During the Great Depression, former President Franklin D. Roosevelt said the following: “The only limit to our realization of tomorrow will be our doubts of today. Let us move forward with strong and active faith.”


MAINE: A PLACE OF BUSINESS • Bangor Daily News Special Advertising Section • January 29, 2021




n the last year, businesses have adapted and readapted to stay up-to-date with ever-changing rules and precautions to slow the spread of COVID-19. Restaurants in particular have kept on their toes, many evolving from primarily dine-in business to order ahead/pick up outside and adding outdoor seating for all types of weather. The idea behind this, of course, is to minimize contact with other people and maintain the Center for Disease Control’s guideline of maintaining a six-foot distance. Businesses that would normally allow as many customers as possible into their brick-and-mortar establishments now have a set number of people allowed in at


Businesses Have Adapted to Keep Going

one time. To make up the difference from the lack of customers walking around the store to browse, many of these stores are offering call-ahead ordering with curbside delivery service. “A great deal will change even after we get to the other side of this,” said Rick Phillips, the owner of Spotlight Cinemas in Orono. “We will continue to use contactless transactions as much as possible and keep the next level of sanitization of our facility. It’s a great way to minimize transmission of the common cold and flu.” As Phillips said, it’s likely many of these changes are here to stay. Many of the precautions in place at the moment will help stop the spread of the flu as well,

so it is understandable for certain practices to stick around even after the pandemic settles. Productions across the country, from movie theaters to stages for musicals, have had to adapt substantially to stay open. For example, practicing social distancing requires seats in theaters to be unavailable to promote a safe six-foot distance. Live music has had a large question mark hanging over its head since the pandemic began. When it returns, it’s certain to have many more safety precautions in place. Most businesses have been affected by COVID-19 in some way in the last year. Many businesses rely on human

interaction to be successful. It’s required lots of solution-based thinking to overcome the challenges. “I don’t see it going back to normal,” said Leeanne Hewey, the owner of the Charles Inn in downtown Bangor. The hotel installed plastic barriers to assist in the prevention of spreading germs. “The plastic shields will remain up and we will continue six-foot social distancing… The guards are still going to be there and masks aren’t going away anytime soon.” When the pandemic hit Maine back in the spring of 2020, the Charles Inn shut down for two weeks except to healthcare workers. In this shut down time, Hewey engaged in some remodeling and in the

MAINE: A PLACE OF BUSINESS • Bangor Daily News Special Advertising Section • January 29, 2021

A sign outside a Portland restaurant lays down the pandemic rules. TROY R. BENNETT / BDN FILE

process built an entirely new front desk and purchased decor that would match the mandated precautions by the Center for Disease Control. One of her other properties, Vacationland Inns, only rented rooms for essential workers in the area and instituted contactless check-in services. For Hewey and her husband, the beginning wasn’t as difficult as it was for many other local businesses. “In the beginning, it was easy for us to get prepared; I used to work in FEMA and my husband was the fire chief in Manchester for 17 years. [We were] always a few steps ahead of the pandemic. Thinking about it before it happened. It was always challenging but not as difficult for us due to our prior experience.” Restaurants in some ways have been the most affected by the regulations following the arrival of COVID-19. For months many dining rooms closed in favor of a take-out only model.

“We’ve had to adapt in many ways,” said Zack Richardson, owner of Harvest Moon Deli. With several locations scattered throughout the greater Bangor area, Harvest Moon created a curbside takeout option for their customers and adjusted how they do business. Harvest Moon Deli rearranged the inside of their locations to allow social distancing for dine-in customers. “[We] moved from a 50% dine-in, 50% takeout model to a 5% dine-in, 95% takeout model,” explained Richardson. “[We] partnered with delivery apps to help generate revenue, albeit with commissions there is little profit left post-purchase.” The deli expanded their personal protective equipment to provide extra measures in an effort to keep their staff safe and healthy as well. This included installing plexiglass barriers to provide an extra level of protection between customers and employees. “[We] limit staff working with other staff [and] try to staff in teams

to limit potential exposure between groupings of staff,” said Richardson. In the middle of March when the state should’ve been defrosting and starting to open back up for the tourist season that usually provides Maine with a nice economic boost, businesses were shutting their doors to patrons. The closure was performed as a safety measure to determine what protocol and procedures needed to be put in place to ensure the safety of customers and employees. As businesses have begun opening their doors to the public again, new regulations have come along with it. Maine businesses, along with countless others across the nation, have met this challenge head on. It’s unclear what the future holds, but the consensus is that these precautions will be here to stay for a while. The new year will no doubt bring new challenges as the pandemic remains a fluid situation, but now businesses won’t be caught off guard.

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MAINE: A PLACE OF BUSINESS • Bangor Daily News Special Advertising Section • January 29, 2021



he history of Bangor Federal Credit Union can be traced to the mid-1950s. Priests from St. John’s Catholic Church in Bangor met with 25 parishioners to discuss forming a credit union. The ability to combine their savings and provide low-interest loans to other church members fasci-

nated the group. Certification was submitted and approved, and on April 10, 1956, St. John’s (Bangor) Federal Credit Union became a reality. Dennis “Don” Soucy was elected as the first president, while the first treasurer, Francis Sheehan, began conducting business out of his home.

Almost 20 years after the Credit Union was formed, the first branch office opened in Downtown Bangor on Harlow Street. Employees were hired and a name change to Bangor Federal Credit Union followed shortly thereafter. In the 1990’s, membership continued to grow and the necessity to add more locations became apparent. This success prompted the opening of a drive-through location on Hammond Street and a full-service office on Hogan Road in Bangor. Because these facilities provided a new type of accessibility for the membership, the original Harlow Street location was no longer needed. After expanding its membership to all of Penobscot County, the second full-service location on Dirigo Drive in Brewer opened. It wasn’t until ten years later; another field of membership expansion would provide the opportunity for growth that included residents of Hancock and Waldo County. At that point, the Credit Union had two full-service locations open in Bangor and Brewer, and a drive-through facility on Hammond Street. As the Board of Directors consistently monitored physical location needs; facility requirements; and potential branch limitations of the Credit Union; a determination was made that a

third full-service office located on the west side of Bangor would be ideal. This led to the closing of the Hammond Street facility and opening of the Venture Way site in 2016. Today, over 14,000 members utilize the financial products, services, and resources offered by Bangor Federal Credit Union. Three full-service branches in Bangor and Brewer are staffed with local people that believe in the mission of the credit union; to always deliver the best financial experience to the members, to be honest, fair, and professional at the highest level. Bangor Federal Credit Union has been an integral financial institution to the region. The Credit Union commenced in Bangor, continues to conduct business in Bangor, and will continue to thrive where it all began. The Board of Directors, Volunteers, and Staff are dedicated to the communities in which they all live and work and have confidence that Bangor Federal Credit Union is the financial institution of choice because – YOU BELONG HERE!