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December 12, 2016
From the Editor

These companies find success by meeting challenges head-on

Mainebiz is in the second year of honoring Maine's Fastest Growing Companies and we're seeing some good examples of why they're growing — and what that means.

One company, Maine Coast, continues to find new markets in Asia and found the need to open a site close to Logan International Airport so shipping could go faster. Another company, Apothecary By Design, has tapped into the fastest-growing area of the pharmaceutical industry, specialty drugs, and as a result sales are growing at a blistering pace. Tilson, a technology company, is racing to keep up with its marketplace, but also to keep up with its own hiring; the firm plans to hire 100 people in the next 18 months. Still another company, Energy Circle, is looking for new space for its headquarters. Cheating Gourmet is improving efficiency and lowering prices to make itself competitive in a broader range of stores. Horch Roofing, OTTO Pizza and Maine Foodie Tours cite training employees as a huge part of what makes them successful.

In Maine, we often hear about companies that are contracting or having difficulty growing. These are just a few examples of companies that are growing and in some cases facing the challenge of growing pains — finding qualified employees, breaking into more competitive markets, having to build layers of management, retooling their mission statements and so on.

Challenges or not, that's all good news for the state's economy.

Heard on the street

Morningstar Stone and Tile, which is based in Topsham, is the latest Maine company to adopt an Employee Stock Ownership Plan. To start, the ESOP trust will own 30% of the company, with the goal of owning 100% within seven to 10 years. There are 21 employees. The company was founded by Nick Whatley in 1986 and he remains the president. "The ESOP structure allows us the chance to give all employees the opportunity to use their good work to build a much stronger position for retirement," Whatley says … In Portland, Maine Wellness Partners has rebranded and is now known as Ombody Health. The Portland-based company offers in-house yoga classes for companies … Community Concepts Finance Corp., the financial arm of the Lewiston nonprofit Community Concepts Inc., will be named "Microlender of the Year" later in December by the Small Business Administration … Heiwa Tofu has opened a food production facility at 201 West St. in Rockport. Owners Jeff Wolovitz and Maho Hisakawa acquired the building in April, then outfitted the space to make small-batch organic tofu, which is sold in grocery stores, natural food stores and co-ops in New England. "This investment in our own production facility is a milestone for Heiwa," says Wolovitz. "We have much more control over our business and greater opportunity for growth." … Redzone Wireless LLC installed free WiFi at the Bangor Mall for the holiday shopping season … Mother's Mountain Mustard, founded by Carol Tanner using her mother's recipe for mustard, is going into its 35th year in business. The Falmouth company now distributes its products nationwide.

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