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LA METRO MAGAZINE digital edition @ LAMetroMagazine.com




LA METRO MAGAZINE digital edition @ LAMetroMagazine.com




LA METRO MAGAZINE digital edition @ LAMetroMagazine.com




LA METRO MAGAZINE digital edition @ LAMetroMagazine.com


contents VOL. 1

August 2016



12 Contributors 25 Living In Your Prime With Health & Vitality 28 Why Is It So Hard To Lose Weight?


31 Paving The Path Toward Wellness In LA 42 A Big Steak In The Community 54 Center Stage


58 Stop, Collaborate & Listen 60 A Gem In Our Back Yard 62 From Maine To Main St.


64 Kaplan’s Nursing Degree Programs 66 Precision Machining

68 Decorating Maine 62

FEATURES 36 Weaving Past, Present & Future In LA 46 Rancourt & Co. Made in Lewiston 16 Wealth Building In LA

28 On the cover: Rancourt & Co. president, Mike Rancourt sporting their Olympic boat shoe being worn by all U.S. Olympians at the opening and closing ceremonies this summer. See page 46 for the whole story.



20 Dreaming Big


We are pleased to bring you the inaugural edition of the LA Metro Magazine. In one sense, it’s been a long time coming. Being a fairly new grandfather with an 18-month-old grandson and a granddaughter due any minute at the time of this writing, I found this endeavor to be similar to the nurturing process of raising a child. Something that has been on my mind, festering for a few years. The idea of this magazine has matured and developed like a baby from inception to its first day in the world. There’s been many conversations with several influential people, mentors and even my bride, Sue. Sort of talking it into existence if you will. What will its name be? Will it be successful when it grows up? How can I pull this off? Will the communities of Greater LA support it? Lots of questions. As Matt Leonard and I put our heads together on this project, we’ve often stated that it was kind of like building an airplane at 30,000 feet. With limited staff, lots of great ideas and other responsibilities pulling at both of us, we’re very proud of the finished product and hope it lives up to what LA has come to expect.

The BEST of LA – there’s certainly a movement out there! There are so many of us heavily involved in our communities refusing to accept mediocrity – ‘the world’ is starting to take notice! Lewiston Auburn is a great place to live, work, learn and play. There are so many BEST of’s in LA – we wish we could have gotten to more of them! We hope you enjoy our baby, the LA Metro Magazine. We look forward to your feedback. I’m sure we’ll see you around town.

“Welcome to the LA Metro Magazine!” All the Best,

JIM MARSTON Editor-in-chief jim@LAMetroMagazine.com

LA METRO MAGAZINE digital edition @ LAMetroMagazine.com



Jim Marston MARS Marketing


Jim Marston jim@LAMetroMagazine.com

CHIEF VISIONARY OFFICER Matt Leonard matt@LAMetroMagazine.com

ADVERTISING SALES Matt Leonard Jim Marston Tim Rucker


ACCOUNTING Maureen Aube Jenny Ziebart


Deborah Carroll Dan Marois

PHOTOGRAPHY Nathan Tsukroff Jim Marston Matt Leonard Heidi Sawyer Daniel Marquis

COVER PHOTO Nathan Tsukroff

LA Metro Magazine is published four times each year by LA Metro Magazine, LLC Editorial and subscription info: Call 207-783-2249 email: info@LAMetroMagazine.com 415 Lisbon Street, Lewiston, ME 04240 Opinions expressed in articles or advertisements, unless otherwise noted, do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the publisher or staff. Every effort has been made to ensure that all information presented in this issue is accurate, and neither LA Metro Magazine nor any of its staff are responsible for omissions or information that has been misrepresented to the magazine. No establishment is ever covered in this magazine because it has advertised, and no payment ever influences our stories and reviews.



Copyright Š2016 LA Metro Magazine, LLC. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopy, recording, or any information storage and retrieval system, without permission, in writing, from the publisher. Printed in Lewiston, ME, USA.

chief visionary officer’s note PHOTOGRAPHY BY JIM MARSTON

Welcome to the first edition of the LA Metro Magazine! There’s no better way to start off than by talking about ‘the best of LA’.

LA is also home to a thriving arts & culture scene. The Public Theatre has been voted Maine’s best theatre year in and year out. The Public Theatre is truly a community gem.

The best of LA is not about a particular competition, list or vote. It’s really about who we are as a community. LA is home to some of the largest, best and onlys— statewide, regionally or nationally. The best of LA is about what we have to offer. It’s about who we are. We need to tell our story, promote who we are and be proud of our communities. I hope that the LA Metro Magazine plays a role in that.

LA is not just Lewiston and Auburn, it’s inclusive of the surrounding communities that contribute not just economically to the region’s success but also play a distinct role in who we are. Poland Spring Resort has a deep and rich history that adds to the allure of the region and brings visitors from around the world to our area.

“The best of LA is not about a particular competition, list or vote. It’s really about who we are as a community.”


MATT J. LEONARD Chief Visionary Officer matt@LAMetroMagazine.com

This issue features Rancourt & Co. Shoecrafters. A hometown company that is making shoes for the summer Olympic team and the world stage. LA has always made things and we continue to make things today. We make some of the best things in the world! The story about Rancourt & Co. Shoecrafters and Gamache & Lessard should help illustrate that. LA METRO MAGAZINE digital edition @ LAMetroMagazine.com



LA METRO MAGAZINE digital edition @ LAMetroMagazine.com


contributors In addition to her work at the Lewiston Auburn Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce, Deborah Carroll is a freelance writer and photographer. She is also the proud mother of three amazing young adults. Her passion for the conservation of wild spaces for public use has led to appointments to the Board of Directors for both

Dan Marois

Dan Marois is an actor, producer, writer and editor. As owner of Mystery for Hire, he has performed in 750 mystery dinner theater shows. With Mainely Improv, he does improv comedy performances as well as corporate training in using the skills of improvisation. He has served as editor of the Oxford Hills Chamber magazine and travelMaine and writes regularly for many publications. He is also the Administrative Director for the Maine Public Relations Council, Maine’s only professional association dedicated to the public relations profession. In his spare time, he is an actor, producer, writer and editor. 12 LA METRO MAGAZINE | AUGUST 2016

Heidi Sawyer is a freelance photographer, website designer & social media guru in Lewiston. This year she started to offer her services to local friends as a way to build a portfolio and to begin to launch a business right here in LA. A long-time chamber ally, a former committee chair for Uplift LA she is eager to offer her talents to a great organization that does such amazing work in our community. When she isn’t freelancing, Sawyer is the Manager of Market Engagement for a statewide staffing firm, runs a growing Facebook group: Lewiston Rocks, serves on multiple committees focusing on education in Lewiston and enjoys spending time with her husband and teenage son.

Deborah Carroll

the Stanton Bird Club and the Maine Appalachian Trail Land Trust. When she isn’t working or spending time enjoying the LA communities, she can be found on the trail in the mountains of Maine, New Hampshire, and Vermont. She hopes to complete the “New England 67” within the next year.

Heidi Sawyer

LA METRO MAGAZINE digital edition @ LAMetroMagazine.com


Custom Draperies Custom Roller Shades & Cellular Shades Upholstering In-House Workroom Blinds & Valances Repair Service Motorization Knowledgeable Staff

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Lewiston-Based Androscoggin Bank Leads the National Banking Industry with Innovative New Mortgage


With no mortgage insurance (PMI) and availability to both first-time and repeat home-buyers, this fast-building equity loan leaves buyers in a better position and less likely to leave their mortgage and contribute to a future housing crisis. It is also available for homeowners with limited equity who want to refinance a single-family home.

By By Joseph Joseph Ferris, Ferris, Vice President Vice President of of Mortgage Mortgage Lending Lending Androscoggin Androscoggin Bank Bank

ome ownership was supposed to be the path to real wealth-building in the United States. Unfortunately in the housing crisis of 2010, because of 30-year loans with slow amortization and loose underwriting standards, it created the perfect storm for a housing market collapse. Fortunately, here in Androscoggin County and across Southern Maine, the housing market is on the mend. Even with increased real estate activity, there is still a perception that the 30-year loan is the most affordable option for the average buyer.

“It is our strong belief that banking institutions should be the problem solvers.” Paul Anderson, President & CEO

Androscoggin Bank, a community bank based here in Lewiston since 1870 with a growing presence across Southern Maine, is earning recognition for developing an innovative new mortgage product that helps both home-buyers and banks prevent the result of the previous housing collapse. The Wealth Builder Home Loan is Androscoggin Bank’s unique mortgage product that gives Mainers a path for building wealth through homeownership while insulating consumers from the effects of previous housing collapse – and Androscoggin is the first Bank in the U.S. to offer anything like it.

An Innovative Solution To The Housing Crisis According to Paul Andersen, President & CEO of Androscoggin Bank, “We saw how devastating the housing crisis was for homeowners. We are the first bank in the U.S. to offer an innovative mortgage that helps homeowners build equity much faster than a traditional 30-year loan. It’s our strong belief that banking institutions should be the problem solvers.” With faster amortization and monthly payments almost as low as 30-year, fixed rate loans, Androscoggin Bank’s Wealth Builder Home Loan allows home-buyers to build up equity and take ownership of their homes early on in the process. The Wealth Builder Home Loan is unique in that it helps buyers gain complete ownership of their homes by year 15 without putting down a substantial down payment. 16 LA METRO MAGAZINE | AUGUST 2016

How The Wealth Builder Home Loan Works The Androscoggin Bank Wealth Builder Home Loan offers buyers an avenue to real wealth-building by allowing them to start paying down the principal very quickly compared with traditional loans. It is not only a tool for wealth-building—it is also safer for both the homeowner and the Bank. Wealth Builder Home Loan clients open an account at the Bank with direct deposit and automatic loan payment, which optimizes loan safety without the need for a large down payment. With a 15-year Wealth Builder Home Loan, the homeowner sees, on average, an 80 percent loan-to-value (LTV) ratio

By Joseph Ferris | Wealth Building in LA after just 40 months of payments. By comparison, a similarly low LTV ratio would take over nine years on a traditional 30-year mortgage.

though there is a rise in the interest rate at the eight year mark, this new interest rate only applies to the amount still owed—not the full original amount of the loan.

The 15-year Wealth Builder Home Loan is serviced entirely in-house, right at the Bank’s operations center downtown.

Many loans require private mortgage insurance (PMI) if you fail to pay the typical 20 percent down payment upfront. This is an insurance that protects the lender in case of a foreclosure. According to Bankrate.com, PMI fees vary from 0.30% to 1.50% of the original loan amount per year. The Androscoggin Bank Wealth Builder Home Loan is unique in allowing home-buyers to avoid both the hefty down payment and private mortgage insurance altogether. Learn more about Androscoggin Bank’s innovative new Wealth Builder Home Loan at androscogginbank.com. Androscoggin Bank is a staple institution, with a 146 year history in Lewiston. The bank is member FDIC and an Equal Housing Lender.

Mortgage Lender Profiles • Karen Shaw (NMLS #509656) (207) 376-3618 kshaw@androscogginbank.com • Areas Served: Lewiston with the greater Androscoggin and Oxford Counties • Number of years in the industry: 35 years

Gerry Augello & Karen Shaw,

Mortgage Lenders

This is great news for our local economy and for consumers, too. With local decisions and processing, you’ll always know where you stand and will always be able to reach someone who can answer your questions, whether it’s during the application process, or nine years into the loan.

How the Wealth Builder Loan is Unique From Other 15 Year Loans There are, of course, traditional loans that have shorter terms of 15 years. But these loans tend to come with higher payments, both monthly payments and the down payment. The Wealth Builder Loan offers a simple “two-step” rate, with a lower fixed rate for the first seven years and a higher fixed rate for the remaining eight years. And even

• Favorite thing about the job: Helping new and existing clients with their financial needs and making their dreams come true, such as buying a new home or maybe even a second one. I have always lived in the L/A area and belong to the Auburn Business Association and the LA Metro Chamber. So I have many contacts for my customers depending on their needs, and I can refer them to the right person in the community. • Gerry Augello (NMLS #785136) (207) 376-3504 gaugello@androscogginbank.com • Areas Served: Auburn, Turner and Livermore-Jay areas • Number of years in the industry: 40+ years • Favorite thing about the job: I enjoy working with clients to achieve their financial goals like buying their first home, and it’s a real pleasure to refinance a current mortgage at a lower interest rate and possibly a shorter term while helping them build more equity in their home. I have worked and lived in L/A with my family since 1972 and really enjoy all the people I meet.

LA METRO MAGAZINE digital edition @ LAMetroMagazine.com



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Dreams Come True

The Fontaine Family Angie Larochelle Crystal Bergeron Melissa Field Claude Fontaine Brenda Fontaine


By Dan Marois | Fontaine Family – The Real Estate Leader

Dream BIG or Go Home renda Fontaine’s career in real estate started with a suggestion from her husband, Claude. “He had seen that someone had received an award in real estate,” explains Fontaine. “He turned to me and said, ‘If she can do it, then so can you.’” The idea did spark a bit of interest for the Lewiston native, but it was a newspaper that would change her direction forever. “The ad said, ‘Are you looking for a dream job, flexible hours, and unlimited income?’” remembers Fontaine, who responded to the inquiry seeking a realtor. “That’s exactly what I was looking for.” After taking the appropriate training courses, Fontaine began her real estate career on September 13, 1983. Today, she has her own company, Fontaine Family-The Real Estate Leader- with offices in Auburn and in Scarborough. “We are a full service real estate brokerage with a long standing tradition of excellence, professionalism, and integrity,” said Fontaine. “Our ever evolving approach to market changes and unsurpassed commitment to the utmost in client satisfaction has enabled us to maintain successful relationship since first entering the business.” Within this past year after opening its Scarborough location, Fontaine Family went from 12 agents in 2 locations to 31 agents, and over 40 realtors when you add the licensed support staff. They serve a seven county area in Androscoggin, Cumberland, Franklin, Kennebec, York, Oxford, and Sagadahoc. “Sales are up over 50%,” notes Fontaine. Fontaine’s agency is currently ranked as one of the top 1000 professional real estate teams in the United States as named by the Wall Street Journal and Real Trends. In Maine, Fontaine ranks in the top 15 out of 1001 real estate companies for the most closed units in a year. Fontaine boasts having among the highest per agent sales averages in the country, currently at 32 units per agent. “We have a support team that helps our agents in their work. In most agencies, agents spend about 80% of their

time on administrative duties and only 20% on actually selling,” said Fontaine. “Ours is just the reverse. Our agents spend 80% of their time working with buyers and sellers and 20% of their time on administrative work. This allows them plenty of time to give their clients the advice and counsel they deserve.” Testimonial

“Great customer relations! This is certainly a company to do business with. They WILL sell your property.” Lorraine Beauchesne, Belmont

Her agency is called Fontaine Family for a very clear reason. In addition to herself, there are six other members of her family working in the business. Together, they form the Leadership Team at the busy agency. “The success of the Fontaine Team is due, in part, to the strong support staff,” said Fontaine, pointing out that all seven staff members are licensed real estate professionals. “Having a highly trained staff means there is always someone available to take your call and working behind the scenes to make each transaction as smooth as possible.” Her husband, Claude, is the Bookkeeper for the agency who also works very closely with clients. Fontaine’s three daughters are also in the business. Melissa Field is the Office Manager and Closing Coordinator and Short Sale Specialist. She oversees the details on all transactions. Angie Larochelle is the Showing/Feedback Coordinator who sets up showings for properties and contacts sellers with feedback from every showing. Crystal Bergeron is the Staff Team Leader, REO Manager, and Lead Coordinator. Two of Fontaine’s sons-in-law, Clayton Larochelle and Bill Bergeron are top sales professionals, and are also Brokers, Designees, and trainers on the team. LA METRO MAGAZINE digital edition @ LAMetroMagazine.com


By Dan Marois | Fontaine Family – The Real Estate Leader “Every day is different. You meet people that need your help,” said Fontaine, noting that her profession helps people through good times and sad times as a result of death, divorce, job moves, and other life events. “It is not just about selling property. It is helping people through an emotional event in their lives.” Fontaine said that in many cases, she is now working with third generation family members helping them to attain their dream of home ownership. “We always strive to do the right thing…to sell the right house to the buyer,” Fontaine said, comparing her works as being part counselor by advising customers about pricing their homes, about improvements that can help sell their home, and ways to sell their homes in the shortest amount of time.” Fontaine owes her success to a mission statement that keeps the team focused. “We strive to give our clients ‘world class’ service by going above and beyond the call duty; thus creating ‘raving fans’ who will enthusiastically recommend us to their family and friends,” said Fontaine, emphasizing every word. “Our goal is to obtain the highest level of customer satisfaction because our future business depends on it.” Fontaine is especially proud of her community involvement supporting Make-A-Wish Maine, an agency that grants

wishes for children diagnosed with a life threatening medical condition and their families. “The average cost to fund a wish in Maine is $7,000 and we just completed our Bid for Wishes online auction that raised in excess of $8,000,” said Fontaine, noting that this contribution level will allow her team to fund and witness a wish being made. “We couldn’t do this effort without support for our business community and friends,” said Fontaine, adding that her agency has been involved in Walk For Wishes and other Make-A-Wish Maine fundraisers since 2009. Testimonial

“Responsive, easy to talk to, knowledgeable, reliable & professional. I consider the Fontaine Family as a professional team who go out of their way to assist clients.” Angela Theberge, Lewiston

The offices for Fontaine Family – The Real Estate Leader are at 336 Center Street in Auburn and 432 US Route 1 in Scarborough. Phone numbers are 207-784-3800 and 207-289-3830. The website is brendafontaine.com.

Licensed Support Staff Angie Larochelle Melissa Field Karen Gruver Crystal Bergeron Marie Beaulieu Maryanne Bear Tammy Soucy




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Living in Your Prime with


Health & Vitality By BJ Grondin,

ost people do not realize the potential they have. You can truly do anything, and PRIME360 is here to show you that you can. Our purpose is to help our community (local and global) lead more fulfilling lives through our health and vitality services. We offer several different services including: personal training, athlete development, movement therapy, and lifestyle and nutritional coaching. So whether you are an athlete who wants to have greater power or strength - or if you are someone who wants to be able to walk up the stairs without feeling pain or getting winded, we can help you. PRIME360 is a lifestyle.

“Nothing is impossible. The word itself says, ‘I’m possible.’” – Audrey Hepburn We use a principle-based approach – this means we use the scientific truths to develop strategies and techniques for our clients. We train movements, not just the musclesmeaning no bicep curls and tricep extensions to get stronger arms; instead we will train movements in your sports primary positions and transformational zones. If you have an injury, we strongly believe in treating the person, not just the injury. No two people are alike! This means finding the root cause of the problem and working to restore function, rather than just treating the symptoms and following “protocols”. When people have pain, it is usually caused from a weak link within the chain, which is a result of a dysfunction elsewhere in the body. Something as simple as a lack of eversion in the foot could actually be the cause of low back pain. So if we restore functional movement patterns in the foot, it can start to help relieve the symptoms of chronic back pain since the rest of the chain is now performing the way it is designed to perform.

We also make sure to utilize the three planes of motion within our training and therapy practices in order to create the most authentic environment for movement. Most traditional training and movement practices stick to the well-known sagittal plane by using one squatting pattern,

one direction lunge (forward or backward), and the rest of the movements performed. PRIME360 also use ten observational essentials to adjust the movements we prescribe. We want to enhance your movement literacy so your body understands anything it encounters. Instead of just adjusting the load you use within movement patterns, we also use nine other “tweaks” including position, speed, distance, height, driver etc.

For athletes who are looking to improve their performance, PRIME360 will work specifically for their sport, their goals, and their needs. Being able to lift hundreds of pounds in the weight room can make you strong, but will it make you perform better for your specific sport? We train athletes to be strong in their specific sport by training movements related to their sports demands rather than arbitrarily training muscles to “get big”. Injury prevention is our number one priority, because who wants to be sitting on the bench due to an injury when they can be out on the field or court having fun and doing what they love? Performance training is our second priority, but still a key factor within the success of our athletes. This is also done through movement training specific to sport and individuals.

PRIME360 is always looking to build relationships with doctors, physical therapists, gyms, etc. Being able to work together and provide services for one another is a great asset; not only to each other, but most importantly the patients/clients we are here to help. So if you are looking to start saying, “I’m possible!” then PRIME360 is for you.

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Why is it So Hard to Lose Weight? 6 steps to keep from stalling out By Maya Ramirez, M.D.


t’s not news that rates of obesity in adults and children have soared. If so many of us are getting heavier, can’t we just say it’s okay to be overweight? Imagine If we could free ourselves from the self-loathing that our culture infuses in us for being overweight and truly be comfortable with our larger size. It’d be fine to be heavy, right? Unfortunately for most of us, the answer is no. Obesity is not a healthful state, and here are two reasons why. First, most of us are obese because we eat a diet that is way too high in unhealthy carbohydrates. Besides making us fat, these foods cause us to overproduce insulin. Chronically elevated insulin levels cause diabetes, hypertension, elevated cholesterol levels, dementia, and blood vessel disease including heart attacks and strokes. And second, fat tissue, especially the deep abdominal fat, is not just quietly sitting there making our pants tight. It is metabolically active, busily producing disease-causing chemicals implicated in diabetes, heart disease, cancer, and dementia.

“Our bodies were not designed for the 21st century, with its over-abundance of cheap, poor-quality food.” But it is hard to lose weight and so much harder to keep it off. No matter how much will power we are able to summon, the deck is stacked against us in our battle for weight control. We have been taught that we can lose weight when we eat fewer calories than we burn. So we diet, cutting back on how much we eat. This is incredibly difficult, but we manage to do it for a little while. Some of us don’t lose any weight and feel discouraged. Some of us lose a little, or even a lot of weight. But the weight rarely stays off long term. Why? 28 LA METRO MAGAZINE | AUGUST 2016

Our bodies were not designed for the 21st century, with its over-abundance of cheap, poor-quality food. For most of history, the human race has been primarily concerned with survival. For thousands of years, our goals were simple: make it through famine, food scarcity, and disease in the hopes of better days. We have exquisitely sensitive and powerful hormonal mechanisms to protect us in times of famine and stress. Unfortunately, most low-calorie dieting is perceived by the body as famine and stress, and in response our hormones tell our bodies to do two things: slow our ability to burn energy until food becomes plentiful again and start storing fat. If Low-Calorie Dieting Is Incredibly Hard, And It’s Still Important Not To Be Obese, What Do We Do? First: Reconsider your motivation. If you think of weight management as something you are choosing for yourself and your health, rather than something you are doing for cosmetic reasons or as a response to the judgmental culture we live in, you may find more satisfaction in the process.

By Maya Ramirez, M.D. | Why is it So Hard to Lose Weight? restricting calories, even in the healthiest of ways, will plateau, and the only way to keep going forward is to rev up the system with exercise. Fifth: Please sleep. It may not surprise you to hear that there is a direct correlation between chronic sleep deprivation and high body mass index. Sixth: No single weight-loss strategy works for everyone. What does work is ongoing support and coaching, someone to be accountable to, someone who is knowledgeable, who can help you solve problems, remove obstacles, and keep you hanging in there until you achieve your weight-loss goals. We don’t need a world of thin people. We need happier, creative, energized people who are living fully, creating intensely, and inhabiting their lives with joy, hope, and vitality. We need YOU, feeling healthy, moving with ease, and living a life of peace and balance.

Second: Make sure your hormones are balanced. Even with the best diet and exercise program, you may not lose a pound if your hormones are not supporting your metabolism.

“We need YOU feeling healthy, moving with ease, and living a life of peace and balance.”

Third: Change your focus from how few calories you will eat today, to how you will eat real food that will satisfy your brain, nourish your body, and keep your insulin levels low so you can unlock your stored fat and start using it for energy! These are the keys to getting weight off, without turning those survival switches on that want to keep us overweight. Fourth: Exercise is a must. There can be no sustained weight loss without regular exercise. Every dieter who is

Maya Ramirez, M.D., is a functional medicine physician and weight loss specialist at Central Maine Weight and Wellness Center. LA METRO MAGAZINE digital edition @ LAMetroMagazine.com



Paving the Path Toward Wellness in LA

Revelation Massage opens new location and expands therapeutic services


By Molly F. McGill

assage is not just for the elite who have luxury time and luxury expenses. It’s for everyone. It’s for health.” If Kim Jacques, owner of Revelation Massage, could shout that from the rooftop of her soon-to-be new location at 577 Main Street in Lewiston, she would. But frankly, she doesn’t need to. Since she and her sister Chelsea Fournier took home the $100,000 grand prize from the Lewiston Auburn Economic Growth Council’s “Launch L-A! Young Entrepreneur Challenge” five years ago for their business plan of a membership-based massage therapy center, a lot has happened. Most importantly, according to Jacques, was people’s perception of massage therapy and the role it can play in helping people achieve their wellness goals when used regularly. “Massage can be for relaxation, it can be for recovery,” explained Jacques of the far-reaching benefits of massage, which include reduced stress and anxiety, relief of headaches and pain, enhanced states of calm and comfort, and treatment for various ailments. “We’ve really dedicated the time to educate the community about how customized health and wellness therapy can be an affordable and accessible component of a holistic approach to wellness.”

“We’re redefining ourselves, we really envision that clients can have a wellness day with us now.”

go without it,” admitted Janis Michaud, who has held a monthly massage membership since 2013. “I use (massage therapy) to stay healthy and it has become part of my wellness plan. I just turned sixty so there are aches and pains. If I’m feeling less than great, this makes me feel human again.” With the move to Revelation’s new Lewiston location, Jacques and her team of 19 highly skilled massage therapists and four customer service specialists are bringing even more options for achieving optimal health to the more than 1,000 member and walk-in clients they see within any given month—and to the LA community in general. “I put my feelers out, did a lot of research, a lot of thinking about how I can continue to bring health to my community,” said Jacques of her expanded services. Her research led her to Flotation Therapy and Infrared Sauna Therapy, two innovative technologies currently not offered in or around Lewiston Auburn (and hardly in the state, for that matter). “Revelation will still have amazing, high-quality massage therapy care—which will always be our focus because that is who we are—but now we’ll be able to take somebody’s health to the next level in a diversified way,” said Jacques. Flotation Therapy has been around for decades but has just recently gained momentum and popularity within the last 10 years or so. The concept is one of short-term sensory deprivation, but don’t let the terminology scare you; it’s regarded as an incredibly soothing and restorative experience for mind and body.

Not only has her business—which has eight massage therapy rooms and offers more than 20 massage services and enhancements such as hot stone massage and aromatherapy—seen a steady increase in community interest over the years, but other massage therapists in the area report being booked as well. Call it a “trickle-down” theory, if you will, but It seems people have caught on, and they don’t want to let go.

Clients can enjoy the treatment in one of Revelation’s two private float tanks. These tanks, or “pods,” are filled with buoyant water of 30% magnesium (Epsom salt) heated to skin temperature. For the full effect, both light and sound are removed. (Jacques says clients who choose to leave the lights on or want to have music, can) A typical “float” lasts about an hour, but the beneficial effects linger, such as reduced stress and anxiety; increased circulation; more restful sleep; enhanced creativity, calm and energy; and more.

“After you experience the therapeutic massage services at Revelation Massage, you find that you don’t want to

“The magnesium in the water promotes weightlessness, helping you reach a state of deep relaxation,” explained LA METRO MAGAZINE digital edition @ LAMetroMagazine.com


By Molly McGill | Revelation Massage Revelation Massage Therapist Jaime Tomlinson. “The addition of flotation tanks are going to augment the benefits of massage nicely, as far as relaxation and deep healing goes.” The other new offering, two full-spectrum infrared saunas, are just as hot a therapy, if not literally. On the outside, infrared saunas appear very similar to traditional air or steam saunas; the interior is constructed of wood and there is a wooden bench to sit on. But that’s about as far as the similarities go. Unlike traditional steam or air saunas that can produce sluggish, moist air, infrared saunas use invisible waves of energy to elevate your core body temperature by three degrees, basically mimicking what a fever does to your body to kill bacteria and illness. This radiant heat allows for non-invasive, targeted levels of beneficial warming of muscles, tissue, and internal organs and has been

Revelation Massage Owner Kim Jacques (center), flanked by several members of her massage therapy and front desk team, including husband Jeff Jacques (back left). 32 LA METRO MAGAZINE | AUGUST 2016

shown to eliminate 17 percent more waste and toxins from perspiration than other saunas. Since this particular sauna is full-spectrum, users can specify treatment for their particular wellness goals including weight loss and cardio, detoxification, wound healing, and more. “I think a lot of my clients will use the infrared sauna to add to their wellness plans as it promotes really deep, therapeutic heat for the body and muscles, making massage more effective,” said Revelation Massage Therapist Valerie Myer. In addition to these new therapies, Revelation will also offer use of a far-reaching tabletop infrared sauna, a single-person sauna clients can add on to the end of a massage; new enhancement treatments such as a seaweed wrap; rich, organic lotions and products; salt glows

and body balms; muscle mender full body treatments; well-crafted loose leaf tea for post session sips; an all-natural anti-aging product that has proven to increase the life span of mice by seven percent; and other holistic, good-for-you products that jive with Revelation’s wellness focus. “We’re redefining ourselves,” said Jacques. “We really envision that clients can have a wellness day with us now. They can come in and start off with a float tank experience, have that lead into a massage, and then end the day with a detoxifying sauna. Hey, that’s a pretty good Saturday.” Seeing as though they are open seven days a week, it can be a really good any day to start your path toward wellness with Revelation Massage, whether through a membership or with a same day appointment.

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Weaving Past, Prese By Thomas Platz & Gabrielle Russell Platz Associates


ates Mill No. 5, also known as #5 Weave Shed, is the most architecturally significant of all the buildings that make up the Bates Mill Complex. Built from 1912-1914 at the apex of the Bates Mill Complex and the Twin Cities, its footprint covers 4 acres. Its iconic saw-tooth roof was designed for letting natural light in throughout the upper floor and its soaring ceilings accommodated the jacquard looms. The Architect, Albert Kahn, was internationally renowned and designed the Ford Motor Company’s Highland Park Plant, which was similar in style and construction to Mill No.5. Kahn was a pioneer and his work has been honored extensively. With his brother, he developed reinforced concrete, which replaced wood in factory walls, roofs, and supports. This gave better fire protection and allowed for larger volumes and column-free spaces. Bates Manufacturing’s worldwide reputation helped attract Kahn to design a building right here in Lewiston-Auburn. Bates Mill #5 Weave Shed, so often the subject of criticism, is the last remaining building in the Bates Mill Complex that has not undergone renovation and is still city owned. Multiple times it has come close to demolition, including in 2009, when demo equipment was ready to send it to landfill and leave a gaping hole in Lewiston’s downtown. This was a horrifying thought, especially after seeing so many beautiful structures lost by demolition and fire. Many of those locations are still empty lots now. When the Bates Mill LLC team took over the rest of the Mill Complex, they maintained an option on #5 Weave Shed. Through the ensuing years, Platz Associates, acting for Bates Mill LLC, developed many proposals for the redevelopment of #5. Extensive studies were done to convert it to a convention center which would have housed the largest convention floor north of Boston. Another study would 36 LA METRO MAGAZINE | AUGUST 2016

ent & Future in LA

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By Thomas Platz & Gabrielle Russell | Weaving a Bright Future in LA have turned #5 into a multi rink, state of the art hockey facility. Unfortunately due to financial considerations, none of these plans would come to fruition.

agreed to come on board and include #5 Weave Shed in the overall plan of the development of the Bates Mill Complex.

In 2012, Grow L+A was formed. This group of citizens was dedicated to saving #5 Weave Shed as well as to contributing to other community efforts as well. Weekly meetings quickly garnered momentum and support; enough where they appealed to the City Council for a stay of demolition. The council had recently voted to include $2.5 million in the city budget for demolition of Mill No.5, so Grow L+A’s appeal seemed like a long shot. In a split vote, the council gave Grow L+A a 6-month reprieve, with the expectation

The City Council Resolve stipulated Grow L+A must provide an investor acceptable to the City with the capability and willingness to take on the project. Tom, a native of Auburn, came back after college and grad school to begin his own family here. As a successful business person and Architect, he is deeply, but quietly committed to strengthening Auburn and Lewiston. His proven track record with the rest of the Bates Mill Complex gave the City Council enough belief in the project that they voted unanimously to enter into an option with him on #5 Weave Shed. It seemed like this was a new day, the beginning of big change. People seemed more empowered: there was a readiness to begin digging in to the hard work and collaborations that would make LA strong and resilient again. At Grow L+A and many other organizations around, diverse groups of people were working together toward large shared goals and achieving them.

Interior shot of Bates Mill #5

that before 3 months were up, they must show proof of tenant interest, financial projections, construction budget, and design concepts. Before the end of 6 months, they would need to see a developer who agreed to pursue the project. The all-volunteer Board of Grow L+A believed wholeheartedly and worked tirelessly in its pursuit.

“When you take these old buildings and you just transform them – it has so much soul, it has so much history.” Patrick Dempsey

Over the course of the next six months, Grow L+A developed a vision for the redevelopment of #5 Weave Shed. They formed a development model for Bates Mill No.5 from James Mangrum’s elegant vision of a server farm that’s waste heat was captured to heat an indoor aquaponics garden. During this period, Grow L+A also sat down with Tom Platz, Managing Partner of Bates Mill LLC, the Developer and Architect for the rest of the Bates Mill Complex. Following numerous conversations which included development ideas, cost and prospective tenants, Tom 38 LA METRO MAGAZINE | AUGUST 2016

The Bates Mill Complex today is part of a designated National Historic District with tens of millions of dollars invested into it, local contracts flowing back into the community, over 400,000 square feet leased, contributing to the tax rolls, and a place where our roots have been preserved for future generations to enjoy and explore. Since signing the option agreement for #5 Weave Shed, Bates Mill LLC, working with Grow L+A, Central Maine Healthcare, the YMCA and other interested parties, has developed a plan that will convert this historic building into a center piece unlike anything existing in Maine. Bates Mill No. 5 will change from the Great Weave Shed to be redeveloped into a community centerpiece and destination that is focused on elevating the health and wellness, diversity, arts and economics of the area. When Patrick Dempsey spoke at the July LA Metro Chamber Breakfast, he was quoted by Kathryn Skelton in the Sun Journal on 7/14/16, “What’s the future of Lewiston-Auburn? It’s now,” Dempsey, 50, said. “What we do need to do is revitalize and restore what’s already existing. When you

Rendering of what the YMCA’s new space could be take these old buildings, where the Dempsey Center is, and you just transform them — it has so much soul, it has so much history. All that energy is in the wood. You feel it. People come in the center and they are transformed when they open the door.” He encouraged everyone to keep active: “Walk. Ski. Whatever it is that turns you on and makes you happy,” and gave a shout-out to the Auburn-Lewiston YMCA’s involvement in the Bates Mill No. 5 redevelopment plans. “We need to be thinking of making this town the wellness capital of Maine,” Dempsey said. Patrick Dempsey has it right – this is the time to believe in our future even more and move it forward. By being the wellness capital of Maine, we will live healthier and happier Open office rendering

lives, decrease our stress, and create widespread cultural change, which is bound to have positive financial impacts as well. Like Bangor, which has transformed itself into a music and performance destination attracting hundreds of thousands annually, we too can create something unique and amazing. Chip Morrison, who recently retired as the President & CEO of the Androscoggin County Chamber of Commerce, said, “The redevelopment of Bates Mill #5 is perfectly representative of the indomitable, can-do spirit of the people of Lewiston Auburn. Businesses, Lewiston city government, and non-profit organizations are working together to do something that most once thought totally impossible.” Just as the architecture of Mill No. 5 ushered in a new era of looking to the future, its redevelopment will play a crucial role in leading the City of Lewiston into the financial prosperity of the post-industrial age. We are lucky there are many people, businesses, and non-profits that have been laying the groundwork for this for years now in healthcare, wellness, and nutrition but it is time for all of us to do our part to ensure success and that this place develops as an authentic representation of us. When we do get to be the wellness capital of the region, the Bates Mill #5 Weave Shed will be at the center of it, just as it once was at the center of the economy when Lewiston-Auburn was booming.

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A Big Steak in the Community Mac’s Grill by Dan Marois

Berube said that the restaurant had a great reputation before the new owners took over a bit more than four years ago. “We took on a healthy place that was good, and made it even better,” adds Berube, noting that almost 90% of the staff remained at the restaurant when it changed ownership.” Currently, the restaurant employees anywhere from 45 to 50 people.

“Many people didn’t even know there were new owners,” said David Gagne. “It was a seamless change from one to the other.”


or 22 years, Mac’s Grill has been serving up great food in a friendly atmosphere on a long stretch of road on Minot Avenue in Auburn.

First owned and operated by Paul and Kate Landry (Now owning and operating Fish Bones American Grill) and Scott and Robin McFarren (Now owning and operating the Red Roof Groceries in Leeds), the restaurant changed hands in 2012. The current owners are Gerry Gagne, his brother, David, and best friend, Mike Peters. His sister, Nancy (Gagne) Berube, has worked at Mac’s for almost all of the 22 years it has been open, now serving as General Manager with her brothers and Peters. “We call ourselves a steakhouse that fits a niche in the neighborhood,” said Nancy Berube. “Our customers are all ages and enjoy our family casual setting and good food.”


Business has been booming since the team took over. In fact, business was so good that there would often be times when the bar was packed to capacity and guests had long waits or turned away from the dining room. In 2014, the decision was made to eliminate the outdoor seating area in favor of expanding the capacity at the restaurant. The expansion gives lots more room for the popular neighborhood bar and allows greater capacity for diners. Berube laughs at the fact that she can always tell when someone hasn’t been in the restaurant for a while. “They come in and notice that things sure look different.” On any given day, you can usually find one or more of the owners working at the popular eatery. “They all do a bit of everything and pitch in where needed,” said Berube, noting a time when the dishwasher didn’t come in and her brother, Gerry, took on that task. “We do whatever is needed to get the job done,” adds Gagne. While the owners haven’t changed the menu drastically, Gagne said that the team is always looking for ways to add

By Dan Marois | Mac’s Grill new items to the standard favorites that customers enjoy. “We introduced a Steak Mac & Cheese for a while and, it was so popular, that it became a permanent item,” said Gagne. Other popular favorites include Salmon with Salsa, and Chicken Teriyaki Stir Fry. “And, of course, there are our steaks with a popular one being our Mini Mac Black Angus,” said Gagne, highlighting it as a generous 10 ounce cut of beef. Dave Gagne, Nancy Berube, Gerry Gagne & Mike Peters

“There are many options for restaurants in this area and it has grown in recent years,” said Berube, mentioning the growth of franchise operations that have come to town. “Competition is good. It makes us step up the game.” When asked about the secret to their success, the brother and sister team had different answers. “We have great employees,” said Gagne. “Everybody is willing to help. We have dedicated people who makes us a great place.” Berube adds that in a business that usually experiences high turnover, there is longevity in the staff on hand. “People have been here for years. Some for 10 years, 12 years, 15 years or more. We also have good management.” Berube also cites consistency as an element of their success. “I learned early on in the business that customers want consistency. They need to feel confident that what they order is consistently good every time and cooked correctly.” Much like the other businesses that value community involvement, Mac’s Grill supports many causes. “We pretty much do what we can for any schools that approach us,” said Gagne. “We will donate food or sponsorships.”

“Competition is good. It makes us step up our game.” Gagne said that the rising interest in craft beer has certainly changed the nature of the bar options at Mac’s Grill. “We used to have 5 taps and now we have 18 of them,” noting that they serve many Maine made favorites from Baxter Brewing Company, Foundation Brewing Company, and the Maine Brewing Company. The Mac’s Grill team now offers catering services in the area, whether a sit down meal or buffet. They have the equipment and team to cater weddings, anniversaries, private parties, or any other special gathering.

Berube cites long time support for charitable groups such as the Shriners and, particularly, with the Make-A-Wish Maine that grants wishes for youngsters and their families facing life threatening diseases. “We host a Block Party for Make-A-Wish.” When they choose to dine at their restaurant, the team usually goes for their favorites. “I’ve always loved the Seafood Pasta,” said Berube. Her brother, 10 years her junior, quickly said, “My favorite is the Steak Mac & Cheese.” When asked if there are any future plans for Mac’s Grill, Berube points to an area beside the building. “It would be great if we had our own facility to host events,” she said. “It would be nice.”

“If you have a place for the event, we can cater it,” said Berube. All the owners have experience in the restaurant and hospitality business and they know all too well the challenges of maintaining current customers and finding new customers. There’s also competition in the industry. LA METRO MAGAZINE digital edition @ LAMetroMagazine.com







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Rancourt & Co. Made in Lewiston


Making use of new and antique technologies, Lewiston’s own Rancourt & Co. Shoecrafters creates quality footwear, worthy of an Olympic engagement. Written by Deborah Carroll Photography by Nathan Tsukroff


ew, by Rancourt & Co.’s standards, is a 4-yearold computer driven cutting tool that efficiently and accurately cuts large pieces of leather. The old methods, tried, true, and in use by the Rancourt family of shoecrafters for more than 70 years, include the manual application of metal dies used for leather cutting. The use of dies to manually cut leather into the shapes that will become elegant shoes is only a small part of Rancourt & Co.’s tried and true methods. From it’s 24,000 square foot facility on Bridge Street in Lewiston, and the Rancourt “family” of shoemakers with their skillful hands and generational knowledge, to the timeless design of many of Rancourt & Co.’s products, these methods serve to produce shoes that are distributed world-wide. The Lewiston-Auburn area is fortunate to have been on the cutting edge of shoe production, beginning in the 1800’s, and is imbued with tradition in it’s rich history, techniques, and dedication to the production of footwear, and the Rancourt family has been part of that process for a very long time.

worked for my dad, and my dad trained the sons and daughters who continue to work for the company.” The legacy continues With a significant portion of each shoe being sewn by hand, “We’ve got 8 hand sewers inside and 5 more who work at home as needed, as well as 7 machine stitchers,” reports Mike, “and we still have a hand sewer that was working for my father. He works part time, for about 2 months a year, when we need him, because he loves to hand sew!” Though their workforce is home grown, “Our customers know us because of our reputation, and they come to us from around the country.” Rancourt & Co. is building upon this reputation for quality American craftsmanship and seeing its dreams of a more global presence coming true.

“The Rancourt family as been making shoes since 1967,” said Mike Rancourt, president and owner of Rancourt & Co. Shoecrafters. “My father, Dave Rancourt, patriarch of Rancourt & Co. Shoecrafters, was a hand sewer,” said Mike. “He was trained in the 1950’s and today we continue with that heritage.” Mike, who joined his father in the shoemaking business in 1982, never learned to hand sew, though his father tried to teach him. His interest and expertise, they discovered, was “more in the business end of things.” “My dad retired at the age of 62,” said Mike, and in 2009 “my son, Kyle, joined me as my business partner and vice president.” Presently Rancourt & Co. employs approximately 50. “What we do,” said Mike, “is so labor intensive,” with accuracy being key to the creation of a quality product, and so with a significant proportion of the work being done by hand, employing quality craftsmen is the key to success. Rancourt & Co. employs many “2nd and 3rd generation shoemakers: fathers and sons, mothers and daughters, and cousins who have a family legacy of shoecrafting. “Many were born and raised here,” said Mike, adding, “The dads LA METRO MAGAZINE digital edition @ LAMetroMagazine.com


“Around the world people recognize this [brand] as distinctly American,” states Mike, and of late, this distinctly American, small business from Lewiston, Maine, has deservedly – and almost literally - been reaping the fruits of what they have sewn.

“For the 2016 summer Olympic games, Ralph Lauren chose Rancourt & Co. to craft the 1,100 pairs of red, white and blue deck shoes that will grace their feet as they march across that global stage.” “When my dad and I joined up in the 80s, we were making shoes for Cole Haan, and over the course of our history with them we’ve done both the design and the engineering work. Presently, Cole Haan is our largest private label,” explained Mike, but the real global recognition is coming courtesy or Rancourt & Co. Shoecrafter’s affiliation with the Ralph Lauren label.

and commitment,” and since Rancourt & Co. already had a wonderful working relationship with the label, “it made a lot of sense for us to produce the boat shoes for both ceremonies.” “Ralph Lauren has their own design team,” said Mike, and although Rancourt & Co. generally does all of the engineering work in house and, in most cases, their own product development, in this case they deferred to Ralph Lauren. Rancourt & Co. just had to make them … lots of them. Ralph Lauren created a video documenting the crafting of these uniquely American shoes. Since that video’s release, Rancourt & Co. Shoecrafters has been getting considerable attention including multiple radio interviews, local television news, and an interview with a Boston station. “It’s such an honor for our workers, most of whom have never been involved in something that has such a presence on the world stage. It’s a real source of pride for the workers and the community,” and a comfort to know that “all the proceeds go back to the Olympic committee and the athletes,” Mike shared proudly. In addition to these 1,100 pairs of shoes, Rancourt & Co. was asked to create 300 pairs of tiny, size 1, boat shoes, that are identical in nearly every way, to be worn by teddy bears that will be carried by some athletes. “We don’t make children’s shoes,” said Mike, so making 300 pairs of size 1 shoes in matching red, white and blue leathers required some fancy footwork in terms of engineering and production. When Mike’s father read about the little shoes he wondered how the stitchers were able to sew them on the adult size jacks, the form on which skilled hand stitchers work their magic with waxed needles and thread to stitch leather to leather. Breaking tradition, just this once, due to limitations in terms of equipment and time, the little shoes were machine stitched. And it was all made in Lewiston

Ralph Lauren has been a customer of Rancourt & Co.’s for seven years and owns the exclusive rights to provide the uniforms for the American athletes, para-athletes, and officials to wear during the opening and closing ceremonies of the upcoming Olympic games. For the 2016 summer Olympic games, Ralph Lauren chose Rancourt & Co. to craft the 1,100 pairs of red, white and blue deck shoes that will grace their feet as they march across that global stage. “Whenever practical and possible, the components of the Olympians’ opening and closing ceremony uniforms, from grommets to soles, and leathers to laces, are made in the United States, and so all of the materials were sourced nationally,” said Mike, adding, “It’s Ralph Lauren’s goal 48 LA METRO MAGAZINE | AUGUST 2016

Of the aforementioned 24,000 square feet that is Rancourt & Co.’s home, 3,500 is office space, and 7,000 is warehouse. Other than the small but elegant showroom, the remaining square footage is devoted to manufacturing. “This building was an old cold storage warehouse where they fabricated sprinkler pipes,” said Mike, but it has seen significant expansion over the years. “The original building looked like a ski lodge in Maine, with rough hewn pine boards, and we liked the concept of it. So when we did the whole thing over, we kept it original.” Just inside of their doors, past the showroom, there was a catwalk high above that led to office space. “We took down the original wooden catwalk, rebuilt it, and put it back up.” Now, it leads to storage space.

By Deborah Carroll | Rancourt & Co. Different pieces of each shoe come from different parts of the leather hide, and so Rancourt & Co.’s yields are generally low, to utilize only the very best pieces of the leather. When it comes to design, the process includes considerations as to whether the sale is: “ready made,” with its necessary large scale production and shipping, most often for wholesale; “made to order,” a process in which shoes selected from Rancourt & Co.’s website are made and shipped one pair at a time; or, “custom made” which allows the consumer to design their shoes using the “customization tool” on the website. Barring interruptions, the two latter methods take approximately four weeks from order to delivery. A “ready-made,” non-customized pair of shoes can be made in about two days. According to Mike, however, the “drying time on the last, a form that will shape the upper, is two days,” so the actual “touch time is only about two hours.” With this method, said Mike, “We’re shipping from inventory [that] we replenish regularly,” allowing Rancourt & Co. to ship, usually, within 24 hours.

Keeping it real

While the bulk of Rancourt & Co.’s production is in these “ready-made shoes,” and many customers select “made to order” shoes using Rancourt & Co.’s design, according to Mike, “custom made is a very popular way that our customers buy shoes.”

From the metal dies to the carts they use to move and store materials and product, Rancourt & Co.’s workers make use of original and historic machinery and equipment that dates back to the early days of the shoemaking industry. Even the raw material suppliers have a rich history all their own. Most of Rancourt & Co.’s raw materials come from a 5th generation tannery in Chicago. “They are our #1 supplier of leather,” explains Mike. Rancourt & Co. also purchases some raw materials from Europe. Dress shoes are crafted from calf leather and “when you look at our collection, the premium shoes are made with calf leather. And the best calf leather,” according to Mike, “comes from France.” With “custom made,” a customer can change the multiple shoe components, and with an impressive variety of eyelets, leathers, colors, stitching threads and soles to consider a customer can mix and match materials to their satisfaction, creating a shoe that is unique to them. A custom fitting, however, is a different story. To do a custom fitting, a Brannock Device is used to establish the size and width of the customer’s feet, a series of fitting tests is conducted using various sizes models, and the fitter takes multiple notes regarding style and materials. The process LA METRO MAGAZINE digital edition @ LAMetroMagazine.com


By Deborah Carroll | Rancourt & Co.

is significantly more laborious, and the cost to create and purchase such a pair is significantly greater. Shoes can also be purchased by visiting their showroom at 9 Bridge Street in Lewiston, just a few steps from where they were made. When it comes to personal favorites, “I’ve made so many shoes,” said Mike, but “my favorite weekend shoe to wear is what is called a driving shoe.” “Driving shoes were designed for race car drivers in the 1950’s,” and feature rubber dots on the heel and bottom that grip the pedals. “It’s a moccasin, with rubber dots, made of American bison leather that has a mottled quality to it that is difficult to replicate.” Community and family Although their shoes travel the world, for Rancourt & Co. “it’s about our community, our love for Lewiston Auburn, and how important this [industry] is for us,” says Mike. “I always think in terms of community when I think in terms of our family,” he adds, and “how important it is for small manufacturers to grow and succeed in a community. Small businesses sustain jobs, and that leads to housing opportunities, groceries and more jobs.” In this world where consumers often make choices based simply on cost as opposed to quality, it begs the question: “How do I sustain a community through how and where I spend my money?” And Rancourt & Co. shares this message with its customers: “We’re successful because you buy our shoes and [in doing so] contribute to both Rancourt & Co.’s legacy as well as to our community.” And speaking in regard to Rancourt & Co.’s affiliation with Ralph Lauren, and its upcoming presence on the Olympic stage, says Mike, “to have this acknowledgment bestowed upon us, on our community, that we are making some of the best shoes in the world” is, truly, both an honor and an opportunity.

A Family Tradition Dave Rancourt, patriarch of the Rancourt family of shoecrafters, was born in Canada and immigrated to Maine as a baby. “My dad was a lumberjack,” he said. “When when I was about 14 or 15 years old, I worked with him in the woods after school. Dave’s humble beginnings in the shoe industry began much earlier, however. “I shined shoes part time,” he shared, “… anything to make a dollar.” In due course, Dave learned the art of hand sewing in his mid-20’s “at Bel Moc.” After 2 years, “I got a job at Bostonian in Freeport, making high priced shoes.” He stayed for 7 years.

Hand sewing, he says, “was very hard work … just as hard to work in the woods.” In the years that followed, Dave saw increasing responsibility at various shoemaking companies and, ultimately, with wife Norma by his side, realized ownership of his own shop. Lewiston Auburn’s shoe making industry has seen good times and bad, and “they used to tell me you must be crazy starting a shoe factory,” said Dave. “But I made it.” Dave Rancourt’s legacy continues, not just through his son, Mike Rancourt, but also through his grandson, Kyle Rancourt. According to Kyle, Rancourt & Co.’s Vice President, “my role can best be described as creative director.” As a child, Kyle found the factory to be an interesting place. From the “machines and racks of shoes,” to the smell and feel of the leather, “I was fascinated,” he says. “The people who worked there were so friendly,” he adds, and he admired the way that they worked with their hands. “Over the years,” as he has come to fully understand how “incredibly difficult” it is to make a well made pair of shoes, he says, “I grown to respect [their work] even more.” Although about half of Kyle’s responsibilities at Rancourt & Co. are related to marketing, he relishes his role overseeing the design and product development at Rancourt. “I love the creative side of our business,” he says.



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months of non-stop work, board members and volunteers had transformed the 1940’s movie house into a professional theatre, and in 1992, The Public Theatre performed in its new home to a sold-out audience.

CENTER STAGE A cornerstone in the cultural life of Lewiston Auburn.


ecently voted “THE BEST THEATRE IN MAINE” by Down East Magazine for the fourth year in a row, The Public Theatre is a 315 seat professional Equity theatre located in downtown Lewiston. Nationally recognized for its artistic excellence, The Public Theatre’s mission is to produce Broadway quality theatre that is affordable for everyone. Featuring a top ticket price of only $20 and a youth price of $5 for anyone 18 and under, The Public Theatre produces an exciting selection of uplifting and provocative plays from Broadway and Off-Broadway, starring the finest professional actors from New York to Los Angeles, every October through May.

The Public Theatre is one of the most remarkable success stories in the state of Maine and a cornerstone in the cultural life of Lewiston Auburn. The Public Theatre’s building has long been a historic institution in Lewiston Auburn. Originally an automotive garage, it was purchased in 1930 by a local social club, who converted the ground floor into a stylish movie house named the Ritz Theater. One of the Ritz’s greatest claims to fame is that Stephen King, Maine’s most successful writer, often attended sci-fi thrillers there as a child, perhaps inspiring his future career. In 1991, The Public Theatre began its first season producing two plays in the Auburn Mall. Skeptics throughout the state scoffed at the idea of a professional theatre succeeding in a former mill town. But, by the end of the season, it became clear that The Public Theatre was here to stay. A search for a permanent home lead to the doorstep of the old Ritz Theater. Vacant for nearly eight years, and in a deteriorated condition, local people, motivated by the desire to help restore a part of their heritage, began donating time and materials to the renovation. After four 54 LA METRO MAGAZINE | AUGUST 2016

In 1993, The Public Theatre signed a contract with Actor’s Equity Association, the union of professional actors, and became one of only five Equity theatres in the state. Equity membership allows The Public Theatre to hire the very best professional actors from New York and across the country. Actors appearing at the theatre have ranged from regulars on the television show E.R. to accomplished performers from Broadway and feature films. Last season, two-time Tony award winning actress Judith Ivey, directed The Ladies Foursome, which became the theatre’s best selling show of all time. Today, The Public Theatre is one of the most remarkable success stories in the state of Maine and a cornerstone in the cultural life of Lewiston Auburn, serving over 16,000 people each year. Beginning in October, get ready for an exciting new season of new plays, including three New England premieres by well known playwrights. The season begins October 14-23 with LAST GAS. Filled with humor, warmth and a love of the Red Sox, love is lost and found in Northern Maine, in this very funny, touching and thoughtful comedy, by the author of Almost, Maine. Nat Paradis is a lonely, Red Sox-loving man who manages Paradis’ Last Convenient Store - the last place to get gas before the Canadian border. When an old flame returns to town on the same day his best friend arrives with a gift of Red Sox vs Yankees tickets, Nat’s quiet world unexpectedly sparks to life. Last chances collide and plot twists unfold, as Nat follows his heart into unknown territory. Next up is LAWN AND DISORDER, November 4, 5, 6. National headlining comedians Karen Morgan & Jim Colliton join together in this hilarious show about married life. Through stand-up comedy, audience participation and a couple’s game show, Jim and Karen create an evening of non-stop laughter guaranteed to make you forget about the dirty dishes in the sink. The holiday season is ushered in with The Public Theatre’s critically acclaimed production of A CHRISTMAS CAROL, December 9, 10, 11. Rediscover the magic of theatre, when six actors and a fiddler bring Charles Dickens’ classic story to life in a way you’ve never imagined and will never forget. The Public Theatre is delighted to offer quality family entertainment that people can actually afford to bring their family to, with an unbeatable ticket price of only $5 for children 18 and under. We’ll ring in the new year with UNDER THE SKIN, January 27 – February 5. This deeply funny, powerful and moving new play about parents and children explores the truth about this most complicated connection. Raina’s ailing fa-

The Public Theatre | Center Stage ther needs her kidney. But he’s been a lousy dad, so she’s not too convinced he’s “kidney worthy”. How do we get to a place of forgiveness and generosity with the people who have let us down? What IS our responsibility to our parents and theirs to us? Why is it so hard to feel like an adult when our parents are in the room? Time jumps backwards and sideways and game changing secrets are revealed as this exciting new play asks, “What does it mean to give a part of yourself to someone else”? Then, shake off the winter blues with the hip and charming romantic comedy WRONG FOR EACH OTHER, March 17 – 26. Imagine the essence of Mad about You meets the witty banter of Seinfeld, when a chance meeting sends a seemingly mismatched couple flashing back through the highs and lows of their past relationship. This clever comedy makes the perfect date night. The season finishes with RIPCORD, May 5 – 14. The Golden Girls meets The Odd Couple when two feisty widows wage war with each other over the most desirable room in a Retirement Home in this hilarious and heartfelt new comedy from the Pulitzer Prize winning author of Good People. Every traveler knows that the best way to discover a great place is to travel off the beaten path, and listen to the locals. So, this season, point your car towards Lewiston and discover for yourself why The Public Theatre was voted the “#1 Gem in Lewiston Auburn”.

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Stop, Collaborate & Listen Shanna Cox is the founder of Project Tipping Point, a catalyst for community transformation. She aims to create a robust network of leaders and change makers through enhancing skills and connecting leaders committed to LA. You can learn more about Shanna and Project Tipping Point at GoTippingPoint.com


By Shanna Cox

hen Vanilla Ice used these attention getting words in 1990, he was tapping into the growing use of the word collaborate. Google Books’ analytics show the mentions of the word “collaborate” increase sharply from 1990 to present day. In a time where local and global communities are more connected, information flows easily, and competition for resources is fierce, there is no surprise of the increased interest in collaboration.

that surrounds collaboration. A quick web search will only deepen the confusion– the Business Dictionary defines collaborate as “an arrangement in which two or more parties work towards a common goal”. Consulting Merriam Webster, you see two definitions directly at odds with each other. Compare the first– “to work with another person or group to achieve or do something”, to the second and darker definition– “to give help to an enemy who has invaded during war”.

We must remind ourselves that collaboration is not merely a word– nor is it simply an idea to aspire to– collaboration is action. In today’s new economy, there are many who seek to understand both the definition and the action. At Project Tipping Point, we understand both the significance of deepening one’s understanding, and the confusion

In community today, it is this dual definition that stands in the way of reaching full potential. The notion that working together could indeed result in helping the enemy is often the thinking that keeps people, entities and systems operating in disconnection. The opportunity in our communities can be leveraged by shifting this mindset and seeking meaningful collaboration. More importantly– the success of achieving our full potential will require the act of collaboration. We know through research that collaboration spurs innovation– individual and group connections that span different viewpoints and backgrounds spur the exchange of ideas, the sharing of resources, and the growth of industry and sectors. In community, collaboration can spur the engagement of neighbors, the building of social fiber, and create lasting transformation. The act of collaborating creates networks that support the exchange of ideas and resources that can lead to new thinking and approaches to long-standing challenges. Networks are emerging as a new framework for understanding structure– the structure of organizations, businesses, government and communities. Traditional structures often look like the classic “org chart” or school phone tree– a point person at the top, from whom flows many layers of other departments or people. The further down you look, the fewer lines exist which connect


By Shanna Cox | Stop, Collaborate & Listen through or across the layers. Network thinking asserts that more lines– more connections– create more opportunity. We all want more opportunity. Here in the heart of Androscoggin County, opportunity exists. Decades of conditioning has trained us to begin by asking “what problems must we solve”? This question forces us to define our communities only by what they are not, instead of what they could be. To define our communities by what they could be, we must instead ask “what opportunities exist?” When we focus on opportunities, we can begin to realize a new future that focuses on what is possible. We aren’t in short supply of opportunity. With 65% of the state’s population living within a 30 minute drive, our

geography is a market opportunity. With low square foot costs, our mills and empty commercial spaces is new businesses and development opportunity. With high vacancy rates and low property prices is the opportunity to grow our population and workforce. Finally, our growing student enrollment is the opportunity for a next generation of graduates. To catalyze the opportunities into realities, we must collaborate-come together to do something. The first action we could take, individually or collectively– is to listen. Listen to each other, to the ideas that are shared and to the way we each envision a community having reached its full potential. Vanilla Ice was on to something: Stop, Collaborate and Listen.

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Poland Spring Resort A Gem in Our Back Yard By Cyndi Robbins


t’s impossible to talk about Poland Spring without talking history. In 1794, when George Washington was President, the Rickers began a stagecoach stop here. Less than a century later, Hiram Ricker discovered the healing powers of the famous Poland Spring and in 1845 began bottling the curative water. The Ricker Family built one of the largest resorts in New England over the course of their 150 years of ownership and it is still one of the largest resorts in Maine today. Guests have several lodging choices. The Maine Inn houses a large lobby, dining room, Rick’s Pub, and a 10,000-volume library. The Presidential Inn is a Victorian classic originally built in 1913. The Lodge, open year round, is located on the 12th hole of the golf course. Eleven cottages are also available for guests. The Resort also hosts wedding receptions, golf tournaments, reunions, conferences, day outings, and much more.

away from the 3rd green of the course. You can visit the 1906 Bottling Plant Museum while you’re here. Also, you can also visit the other Gems of 26, the Maine Wildlife Park (guaranteed to see a moose!), Sabbathday Lake Shaker Village (the only active Shaker community in the world), the Maine State Building (built for the 1893 Worlds Fair), and McLaughlin Gardens; all within 20 minutes or less from your room!

The Poland Spring Golf Course, opened in 1896, is the first golf course to be built at a resort in America. In 1915, Donald Ross re-designed the original nine holes course and expanded it to 18 holes. A number of well-known golfers, athletes and celebrities including Bobby Jones, Walter Hagen, President Taft, and Babe Ruth have played the course.

In addition to the history prevalent on the grounds, the resort offers recreations aplenty; from hiking trails to shuffleboard courts and nightly entertainment. A huge swimming pool, driving range, disc golf, mini golf, horseshoe courts, swings for the little ones, two bocce courts and three-grass tennis courts are all available on site. In the mood to gamble? The Oxford Casino is minutes from the resort, and there is a courtesy shuttle. Lakeside enjoy Cyndi’s Dockside Restaurant & Boathouse. They have delicious Maine Lobsters, natural range fed burgers, fried clams, haddock and much more! Enjoy indoor and outdoor seating with beautiful lake views. Rent a kayak, canoe, paddle boat or even go fishing to catch “the big one” during your visit. The rates (starting at $89 a night including breakfast) are unheard of for a resort with so much history, beauty and amenities. The Resort is fully open from mid May until October, and the Lodge is open year round for casino and winter travelers. For more information, visit polandspringresort.com or call 207-998-4351.

Although the bottled water company that shares the same Poland Spring name is no longer owned by the resort, the original spring that acted as the catalyst to what is now the #1 selling bottled spring water in America, is just steps 60 LA METRO MAGAZINE | AUGUST 2016

Proudly providing services in the greater Lewiston-Auburn area for 40 years John F. Murphy Homes, Inc. provides services for children and adults with intellectual disabilities and autism in the greater Lewiston-Auburn community. JFM employs over 800 people. ◆ Housing and services for adults ◆ Community supports and services ◆ Recreation opportunities ◆ Work supports for adults ◆ The Margaret Murphy Centers for Children ◆ Extensive training opportunities in the social service industry ◆ Entry level and professional job opportunities ◆ And...Whiting Farm, where once again John F. Murphy Homes, Inc. • 800 Center Street, Auburn

plants and local produce can be purchased!

207-782-2726 • www.jfmhomes.org

Poland Spring Resort, The Maine Inn was built in 1963.

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From Maine to Main Street Since 1845 Poland Spring Water has led the way and now in 2016 it is the #1 selling spring water brand in the country. By Mark Dubois


s a Natural Resource Manager and Certified Geologist for Poland Spring, I spend much of my time studying what happens beneath our feet. For most people, that probably doesn’t sound too exciting, but I enjoy studying the earth and natural resources like water. I consider myself lucky to work with a rapidly-renewable resource and raise a family in my home state of Maine. In particular, I research water and appreciate the science behind this refreshing, rapidly renewable natural resource. The water that Poland Spring harvests comes from eight springs across Maine, each possessing a taste and mineral composition similar to where Poland Spring started in Poland, Maine. We use only a fraction of groundwater available in a local watershed; in fact, on an annual basis, all of Poland Spring’s water sources combined use less than one percent annually of all water used in Maine. Or to put it another way, our annual withdrawal state-wide represents approximately 10% of the water that evaporates off of Sebago Lake during a hot summer month. For more than 170 years, natural spring water has been bottled and enjoyed by consumers across Maine and throughout the northeast. I am happy to say that Poland Spring is the #1-selling spring water brand in the country. That’s a record that makes me particularly proud and should make other Mainers proud, too.


Much of Poland Spring’s success is tied to healthy decisions consumers make by replacing sugary drinks with water. Because demand for our product has grown, we take particular care producing a crisp, fresh taste of Maine in every bottle. At Poland Spring, we understand that our label represents all that is great about Maine, and we take our responsibility to represent Maine’s rich natural resources very seriously. As consumer demand continues to grow, we are actively exploring our options to sustainably meet that demand through expansion and increased investment in Maine. This exploration doesn’t happen by chance. It is grounded in sound science. Our Hydrogeologists are continuously researching potential spring sources in the state, though few have the characteristics to be evaluated in earnest. For example, we are currently working with the Rumford Water District to evaluate a potential spring source in that town. We have initiated a testing phase to assess the quantity, quality and chemistry of the water, as well as its flow. When our research is completed this fall, we will share our findings with the community and determine whether we can sustainably source water from the site. As with all of our water sources, we only continuing working on those sites that can meet Poland Spring’s high quality standards and allow us to meet Maine’s exacting groundwater regulations.

By Mark Dubois | Poland Spring Water My enthusiasm for our product and our company – which is comprised of over 800 hardworking Mainers - is abundant. I enjoy what I do, and appreciate working for Poland Spring. Over 170 years is a long time for any company to be around, especially in a place like Maine. I can’t wait to see what Poland Spring will continue to do for this great state and its customers in the future!

Our company is committed to making our home state a great place to live and work. To do that, we lead by example through sponsorships, donations and volunteering efforts. Many of these efforts take place in this community’s backyard. Poland Spring understands the importance of being a good neighbor, and it is why we’ve paid particular attention to supporting community groups that impact education, conservation and the environment. Over 100,000 students – including students from the Lewiston Auburn area – have participated in environmental education programs through curricula and funding supported by Poland Spring. In addition, Poland Spring has had the distinct privilege of working with local organizations like Maine Volunteer Lake Monitoring Program, Androscoggin River Watershed Council and The Dempsey Center, to name a few, and looks forward to building new relationships to keep these communities strong.

Poland Spring

is proud to be the official water sponsor of the Dempsey Challenge!

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Kaplan’s Nursing Degree Programs Help Bridge Maine’s Growing Nursing Skills Gap


hether you want to help someone during those critical care moments, be present for the beginnings of new life, or assist individuals during their last moments of life, Kaplan University, Maine, can assist you with the education to help obtain a career in the nursing field. Our professors are active in the nursing community and bring knowledge gained through the powerful combination of higher learning and hard-won nursing experience. And, Kaplan University’s dedicated Career Development department provides comprehensive career planning to alumni and students at all levels of study. Kaplan University, Maine, Director of Nursing, Dr. Shannon Packard, shares, “Nursing is a profession that blends science with the art of caring. Providing care for people in their most vulnerable state is the greatest gift. We have the opportunity to see life begin and see life end. While nursing is not always glamorous, it requires a great deal of intelligence, compassion, and empathy. Educating individuals to provide the highest level of care is truly an honor.” Dr. Packard works directly with all of the nursing students on the Augusta campus and shares her knowledge and


experience with her faculty and students daily. “One of my favorite parts of being a nurse educator is knowing the effect I can have on the future of a profession I love and am so proud to be a part of.”

“The hands-on training, real-world experience, and wealth of knowledge provided me has further allowed me to become a practicing RN.” Kaplan University offers several nursing programs, including the Prelicensure Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) program at our Augusta location, where graduates sit for their nursing board exam postgraduation. This program offers online classes, classroom instruction, experience in a high-fidelity, 11-bed nursing simulation lab, and experience through multiple clinical settings across the state of Maine. The curriculum encompasses the instrumental research of the Institute of Medicine’s Future of Nursing Report, the American Association of Colleges of Nursing Essentials of Baccalaureate Education for Professional Nursing Practice, and the Quality & Safety Education for Nurse competencies. All three Maine locations—Lewiston, South Portland, and Augusta—offer the online RN-to-BSN and Master of Science in Nursing programs for nurses looking to obtain the next level of education. No matter where someone is on their nursing profession ladder, Kaplan University can help with taking the next educational step.

Kaplan University | Nursing Degree Programs “I chose Kaplan University’s nursing program because of the great experience I had in the Kaplan University medical assisting program. Kaplan University fully prepared me for a rewarding career in health care, and the success I achieved I knew would be replicated in the nursing program. The hands-on training, real-world experience, and wealth of knowledge provided me has further allowed me to become a practicing RN. Of course, the most influential reason Kaplan University’s nursing program is so successful is the nursing faculty. Their knowledge, passion, and experience took all the pieces Kaplan University provides and ties them together to provide a premium education that fully prepares one to become an RN,” says Joe Amoral, a graduate from of the Prelicensure BSN program and current Master of Science in Nursing student at the Augusta campus of Kaplan University.

“We strive to supply employers with quality, prepared nurses to meet the growing shortage in the state.” Unlike some schools, Kaplan University’s nursing programs do not have waiting lists for enrollment and the flexible

term schedule allows students to start classes every 10 weeks. Employers can also find a benefit because nursing graduates are ready for employment at multiple points in the year. Kaplan University’s Prelicensure BSN program achieved an impressive 94% first-time pass rate on the NCLEX boards in 2015.* Kaplan University strives to supply employers with quality, prepared nurses to meet the growing shortage in the state. *Source: Maine Board of Nursing, July 2016. Kaplan University cannot guarantee employment or career advancement. Graduates must meet state licensing and certification requirements and pass the NCLEX-RN exam to become a registered nurse or the NCLEX-PN to become a licensed practical nurse. Check with your state agency for more information. NCLEX is a registered trademark of the National Council of State Boards of Nursing, Inc. This testimonial was solicited by Kaplan University. Views and opinions stated herein are the individual’s and not necessarily those of Kaplan University. Individual student experiences may vary.

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Precision Machining on the Go at Central Maine Community College The Precision Machining Technology program offers a broad training experience in the metal products industry.


he summer of 2016 has been a most eventful one for the Precision Machining Technology (PMT) program at Central Maine Community College (CMCC) in Auburn.

First of all, precision machining instructors from as far away as California have been enrolled in training programs this summer at the college. Led by CMCC instructors, the courses have included theory and hands-on lab time in four and five-axis milling that gave participants the opportunity to program, set up, and run projects. From July 81-21, CMCC, in collaboration with the Haas Technical Education Center (HTEC) Network, hosted a national conference for manufacturing technology educators. Over 200 CNC (computer numeric control) precision machining instructors from across North America were on campus for the 10th Annual Americas CNC Educators HTEC Conference. Best CNC education practices, program building and innovation, attracting students, and developing employment opportunities were among the topics for workshops and breakout sessions. According to Bob Skodzinsky, manager of the HTEC Network at Haas Automation, machining programs in more than 1,800 schools utilize Haas equipment. The


conference enabled instructors to network and to learn the latest trends in precision manufacturing. CMCC was considered an excellent site for the event in part because of the size and reputation of its PMT program. The HTEC Network has also named CMCC the northeast training center for CNC teachers. A major highlight of the conference was the formal presentation of a check to CMCC for one million dollars. This generous grant from the Gene Haas Foundation will help fund the upcoming renovation and expansion of the PMT

Central Maine Community College | Precision Machining Technology lab at the college. The first phase will involve an interior renovation of over 5,000 square feet, including the relocation of the quality control room, offices, computer class, and locker room to update and improve overall functionality. Phase Two will be the construction of a 3,600 square foot addition to accommodate recent equipment acquisitions, and improvements to existing electrical power distribution, lighting systems, and the mechanical ventilation system.

“This is an important industry in our local economy, and having skilled machine programmers helps manufacturers reduce down time, save money, and bid for quality work.” “Most of our students have jobs at the end of their first semester on campus,” said Diane Dostie, conference organizer and CMCC’s dean of corporate and community services, who also spearheaded the Haas grant effort. “In addition, we do a lot of training for our regional manufacturers who need to upgrade the skills of their workforce, and we’re seeing increased demand for that internal training. The expansion of the PMT program will help support the growth of good-paying, high technology jobs in the region and throughout the state,” Dostie added. The PMT program at CMCC, one of the largest in the Northeastern U.S., offers a two-year associate in applied science degree, a one-year certificate, and an advanced certificate. Students are trained in conventional and CNC machining. Graduates of the program are employed as machine operators, CNC machinists, tool and die makers, quality control inspectors, machine assemblers, machine tool designers, CNC programmers or field service representatives. “This is an important industry in our local economy, and having skilled machine programmers helps manufacturers reduce down time, save money, and bid for quality work,” noted Dostie. “Since 2010 CMCC has provided customized training to a total of 34 businesses and 626 employees. Whether through basic skills-based training or advanced certificate education, CMCC is advancing the skills of machinists in the regional workforce and enabling manufacturers to be more competitive in the global economy.”

Kathy Looman, center, foundation administrator for the Gene Haas Foundation, and Peter Zierhut, right, vice president with Haas Automation, present a check for one million dollars to CMCC President Scott Knapp to help fund the expansion of the Precision Machining Technology lab at the college.

Conference attendees enjoying lunch in the Kirk Hall gym, which also served as the exhibitors’ hall.

Some of the HTEC national conference attendees gathered in Kirk Hall. Participants came from as far away as California and parts of Canada.

Conference keynote speaker Titan Gilroy, center, the creator, star, and executive producer of the MAV-TV show Titan American Made speaks with some instructors after his speech.

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DECORATING MAINE One Window at a Time

Gamache & Lessard: Part of what makes LA great


By Dan Marois hile Gamache & Lessard has decorated area homes since 1945, it has been proudly family owned since 1983.

tionately calls “the shade man.” Ron Peyser continues to work part-time while Donna Harrington is a contractor that does upholstery work.

Ron and Janine Peyser purchased the business that year and continued the tradition of excellence in all things related to window decoration. Whether it be window blinds, shades, curtains, draperies, motorization, valances, interior design and decorating, the Peysers have done it all. And through the years, the business has provided customers with outstanding service, high quality products and excellent prices on all types of window treatments.

“We are always running around and busy,” said Bilodeau, who manages a huge volume of business with very few people. “We all know our jobs and responsibilities and we all work together to get the job done.”

At six years of age, their daughter, Amy (married name Bilodeau) remembers going to the family business. “I remember playing in the store back then,” said Bilodeau, who with her husband, Chris, purchased the business from her parents in January of 2015. “I have officially been working here since 1998 and my husband has been here since 1995.”

“100% of what we sell is custom made to fit the customer’s preferences.” Amy’s official title is President while her husband is Secretary/Owner of the business. “Of course, we both end up doing a bit of everything to keep the business going,” admits Bilodeau. Today, Gamache & Lessard is one of the largest window decorating suppliers in the state of Maine. The family members work at the 995 Center Street location with an extensive showroom filled with samples of shades, blinds and other window related products. There are also large work tables where shades and blinds are cut to size and where custom made products are produced. “100% of what we sell is custom made to fit the customer’s preferences,” said Bilodeau, noting that she has hundreds of cloth sample books from which custom made curtains are fabricated. “We are one of the few places where the manufacturing and sewing is done right here.” Employees at Gamache & Lessard include Meagan Charest who is a seamstress and Paul Chabot who Bilodeau affec-

Bilodeau’s husband handles much of the commercial sales while Amy is involved in sales, customer service, fabrication and installations. “We both have our business degrees but we’ve gained our experience from on the job training,” said Bilodeau. She admits that she has always been artistic but has learned the most from taking apart and putting together colors and fabrics. Gamache & Lessard provides everything that is needed in a window decorating project from start to finish. While many customers shop in the spacious show room, Bilodeau gains most insight by a personal visit to their homes. “In their homes, I can see the space that they are working with and I can ask them questions about the project,” said Bilodeau. “I can find out what they like, what colors they have in mind, what will work best for them, and what will make the customer the happiest.” Bilodeau and her team, work with existing properties as well as with new construction that is just being designed. About half of their business is residential and the other half is working in commercial spaces. “We do work in places like hospitals and schools,” adds Bilodeau. The business is not limited to just the Lewiston Auburn area. In fact, they will travel to about a three-hour drive radius to service customers which encompasses most of New England. “Today we have a crew in North Conway, New Hampshire and this week we will be in Corinth, Maine,” said Bilodeau. “We sometimes travel into Massachusetts.” While the bulk of their business is supplying new products, Gamache & Lessard is also well known for their repair services. LA METRO MAGAZINE digital edition @ LAMetroMagazine.com


By Dan Marois | Gamache & Lessard “If an item can be repaired, we can do it,” said Bilodeau. Current repair services cover blinds, mini blinds, roller shade, pleated shade, draperies and valances, Roman shades, traverse rods and vertical blinds. They even repair pleated shades in RV motor homes. “If an item is beyond repair because of age or wear and tear, we will help customers find a comparable product to replace it.” The business is well known for keeping current on upcoming trends and meeting the needs of today’s savvy customers.

“Customers want products that are simple, clean and easy to care for with no fussing needed.” “We are doing lots more with motorization of window treatments,” said Bilodeau, citing that customers like the convenience of motor powered devices and remote control access to change the window décor. Demand for this has increased in recent years with lower prices and more user friendly options for the devices. Interest in sustainable products has increased in the market and Gamache & Lessard is committed to sourcing products that provide environmental, social and economic benefits while protecting public health and environment over their whole life cycle, from the extraction of raw materials until the final disposal. Energy savings is also another area where business is skyrocketing. “Customers want products that are simple, clean and easy to care for with no fussing needed,” said Bilodeau. “And they are interested in reducing their energy costs.”

Amy & Chris Bilodeau, Owners


A current popular item is a cellular shade with a honeycomb structure that traps the air within the shade. “In the summer, it keeps out the heat and in the winter, it keeps in the heat,” said Bilodeau. “Customers find significant savings in their energy costs.” Bilodeau says that business used to be a bit seasonal in nature, but that is not true any longer. “People are doing projects year round and we are busy all the time,” said Bilodeau, noting that it simply increases her commitment to service excellence. “We are service oriented and work to satisfy the customer,” Bilodeau said. “You can buy similar products many other places but you can’t get the customer service installation and follow up like we do here.” Gamache & Lessard is located at 995 Center Street in Auburn. They can be reached at 207-782-0052, 877-671-1941 or www.windowdecorators.com.

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Profile for LA Metro Magazine

LA Metro Magazine - August 2016  

The Best of Lewiston-Auburn Maine.

LA Metro Magazine - August 2016  

The Best of Lewiston-Auburn Maine.