Family Business Awards picks best of 2014

May 20, 2014

Portland, ME – The Institute for Family-Owned Business, in partnership with the law firm Verrill Dana, announced winners at its 2014 Maine Family Business Awards, held May 19 at the Marriott at Sable Oaks. Hosted by WGME-TV co-anchor Gregg Lagerquist, the event is designed to honor winners in seven categories.

In a departure from having the traditional speaker, event organizers opted for a panel, moderated by Lagerquist, that tackled the subject “The Family Element.” They were Tim Hussey, Hussey Seating, Derek Volk, Volk Packaging, Adam Lee, Lee Auto, and Masey Kaplan, Close Buy Catalog.

Panelists drew applause -and some chuckles- with their remarks about family business challenges before settling in for longer commentary about the separation of business and family; a consensus was to keep the two separate, especially at the dinner table and on the golf course.

The seven Awards’ winners and judges’ comments:

Lamey Wellehan, Lewiston – The Agren Award for a large business (25 or more employees): It’s the best example we’ve ever seen of a business treating employees like family. As a result, employees think like owners. Plus, Lamey Wellehan is dedicated to being environmental stewards. And their many good deeds have been displayed over a 100-year business history that is legend for its ‘customer-first mentality.’

Messer Truck Equipment, Portland - Maddy Corson Award for small business (fewer than 25 employees): There’s a long, rich history at Messer that stretches 114 years over four generations, and distant ancestor’ voices can still be heard. One of 18 rules handed down is ‘nothing beats long hours and hard work.’

Will’s Shop ‘n Save, Dover-Foxcroft - Shep Lee award for Community Service: You’re asked ‘who’s running this store,’ since there’s such a grand mix of business and personal life that it’s a challenge to separate the two. Always in conversation with customers and employees, the owner stays connected to the community.

Chalmers Insurance Group, Bridgton – Wolak Group Customer Service Award: Through nearly 55 years, Chalmers has grown its business to nine offices, in Maine and New Hampshire, and to 135 employees, all the while demonstrating unique staying power. Its core business grew, at the same time Chalmers fleshed out niche business and maintained a high profile in the community.

Chebeague Island Inn- First Generation Award: An amazing example of what a first-generation family can accomplish with drive, determination, and will to succeed. Their efforts to plan, grow, and go beyond the Inn’s four walls into real estate development and management seems beyond their years.

Meadowmere Resort, Ogunquit - Innovation award: A clear winner…whose strong environmental initiatives, through sustainable practices, shows clearly they want to make a difference in the way they do business. This successful first-generation business is family friendly and has all the markings of a world-class resort.

eco-kids, Portland – Technology Award: It’s a great story of a personal experience that led to filling a need for non-toxic and natural art supplies, especially for children, also for total families. They applied science to modify an existing product, then produced products that eliminated toxics in kids’ paint, play dough, crayons and glue. 

These firms were singled out for their business success, positive business and family linkages, contributions to community and industry, family participation, work environment, communication, innovative business practices and strategies.

To learn more about the Awards, and the Institute’s workshops, consultations, events and networking opportunities, go to or call 207.798.2667.

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