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Updated: July 29, 2019 Quality of life

Maine’s brand resonates with a variety of businesses

downtown Augusta Photo / Maureen MIlliken

Whether it’s a consumer brand or a boat builder or a biotech company, companies and attractions in Maine are likely to connect some aspect of their business back to being based in Maine. The state’s appeal goes well beyond lobsters and lighthouses. The Maine “brand” is often centered around a perception of authenticity, durability and a sense of place.

This issue of the Fact Book contains all kinds of information about the state, and it’s peppered with Q&As with Maine CEOs, business owners and a museum curator. Here’s a sampling of some of what these leaders had to say:

On a company’s connection to Maine

“Our connection to Maine is an incredibly important part of our brand,” says Don Oakes, CEO of Sea Bags, which is based in Portland makes and retails a variety of tote bags made with recycled sail cloth and has 25 East Coast stores. “When we began our retail expansion out of state in 2014, we were redesigning our logo to incorporate ‘Maine’ as part of it. Maine has a well-known and powerful brand throughout the U.S. and beyond, and we are proud to attach ourselves to it and to associate Sea Bags with Maine in the minds of our customers. Our location in Portland on the working waterfront of Custom House Wharf is a huge part of our history and identity. “

The label ‘Made in Maine’ carries a lot of weight when selling beyond the state’s borders.
— Kate McAleer, founder of Bixby & Co.

On what it means to have a product labeled ‘Made in Maine’

“Maine rightfully is known as a state for fostering small, start-up companies. Maine has the justified case for authenticity,” says Kate McAleer, founder of Bixby & Co. in Rockland, is a maker of organic chocolate bars sold in a range of supermarkets and specialty stores. “The state is known for organic farming and innovations in food production. The label ‘Made in Maine’ carries a lot of weight when selling beyond the state’s borders.”

On the advantages of a biotech company being in Maine

“On the business side, access to reasonably priced real estate and top-quality employees should be the driver, in my opinion. I travel to New York City and Boston often,” says Michael F. Brigham is president and CEO of ImmuCell Corp., a publicly traded biotech firm that makes preventative health products for dairy and beef cattle under the First Defense brand. “The cost of real estate is much higher there, and I don’t feel those cities provide any advantage in the quality of the employee pool. On the personal side, I could not deal with the crowds and traffic down there. Maine is very convenient. Just minutes from your office, you can be on a beach or lake or near a mountain and open, beautiful country.”

On the growth of one of Maine’s best-known art museums

“We are thrilled to be a playing a major role in the revitalization of Waterville through arts and culture,” says Sharon Corwin, who is the Carolyn Muzzy Director and Chief Curator of the Colby College Museum of Art, with 8,000 works and a collection that specializes in American and contemporary art. “The Colby Museum is already a destination for Maine residents and visitors to the state, and the planned contemporary art gallery in the Paul J. Schupf Art Center will expand our reach into downtown, creating a new front door to the museum that will deepen our connections in the community and help support our growing creative economy. Colby has made the arts a central part of the educational experience.”

On a boatyard’s growth on the Maine coast

“We have customers along the East Coast, into the Bahamas, Alaska, wherever the internet reaches. If they want a boat, they’ll call,” says Stewart Workman, founder of SW Boatworks in Lamoine, Hancock County. “People call who think they might want a 44-foot sportfish boat. I ask, ‘Have you watched “Wicked Tuna?” They say, ‘Yes.’ I say, ‘Well, the black one is ours.’ They say, ‘That’s an awesome boat!’”

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