Chad Gilley – Press Herald Thu, 23 Nov 2017 20:39:22 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Podcast: Like A Boss: Andrew E. Silsby, President and C.E.O. of Kennebec Savings Bank Wed, 25 Oct 2017 21:52:17 +0000 Portland Press Herald Publisher Lisa DeSisto talks with Andrew Silsby about his career at Kennebec Savings Bank, which he joined in 1993. Silsby discusses why email isn’t the best medium for solving problems, the bank’s move into Freeport, and just how far ahead he likes to be with new technology.  This interview was recorded July 27, 2017 in Augusta.

Learn more about the Like A Boss events and podcasts at the Like A Boss website.

Transcript: [music]

Speaker 1: Welcome to the Like A Boss podcast presented by the Portland Press Herald and sponsored by Bernstein Shur, New England Cancer Specialists,, Harvard Pilgrim Health Care, People’s United Bank, and Vistage. Now here’s your host, Portland Press Herald Publisher and CEO, Lisa DeSisto.

Lisa DeSisto: Welcome to Like A Boss, I’m Lisa DeSisto, your host. And today, I am here with Andrew Silsby, who is the President and CEO of the Kennebec Savings Bank. Kennebec County’s community bank for 147 years and Freeport’s for just a few weeks. So we’ll talk about that in a second. Let’s start by meeting our boss. Welcome, Andrew.

Andrew Silsby: Thank you, Lisa. Looking forward to having our chat today.

LD: And it’s a pleasure to be here. I guess, this is the HQ of the bank here in Augusta?

AS: This is the headquarters of Kennebec Savings Bank for 147 years.

LD: Now, the building itself, though is 200 years old, right? It’s the Tappan-Viles Mansion, is that correct?

AS: That’s correct, it’s on the National Historic Register and was the home of Benjamin Tappan, and later the family, Viles family, owned the building, and it’s now our headquarters.

LD: It’s a beautiful facility and building, beautiful grounds, landscaping outside. You just told me a really funny story about some of your plantings and share that.

AS: Well, the local greenhouse that supplies the flowers that we put around the rotary each spring, they have to order and produce more, about 25% more, because whatever’s blooming out there, people go out to the landscapers and ask them for the same type of plant. So they wanna know in advance what we’re gonna plant next year.

LD: That’s hilarious. So, that’s the power of marketing, right?

AS: That’s right.

LD: Right. When they see it, people wanna have it. So, let’s start by meeting you, Andrew, and tell us where you grew up.

AS: Well, I was born right here in Maine. Brought up in Augusta, Manchester area, so for your listeners, that is roughly 500 yards to 5 miles from where you and I are sitting today.


LD: Okay. So a lot of traveling then, throughout the state. Now, your family name is a great old New England name, correct?

AS: Yes. We come from Aurora, over near Ellsworth and migrated from there to Bangor and then down to Augusta. In state services, lots of lawyers, and a few doctors, and I ran to banking.


LD: And here you are today. So, to get to banking, where did you go to college and what did you study?

AS: I went to University of Maine at Orono, and studied Business Administration with a concentration in Marketing. Later years, I went to the National School of Banking, which is sort of a graduate level banking down in Fairfield, Connecticut.

LD: And what was your first job, pre-banking? Or maybe you never had a job?

AS: Actually, I did. I started as a lawn mowing business when I was 13 years old. I learned quite a few lessons working for Henry Mertens, he was one of my customers. Henry was a CMP executive, and Henry had a very high standard. I would mow his lawn with a push mower, he had a very big yard. And my friends would be waiting for me to get done, and I would hurry and cut the corners, mowing the lawn. And Henry would call, my mother would track me down, and I would have to go back and mow the lawn. So I learned the value of doing the job the right way, the first time, from Henry Mertens, because he would actually make me do the whole yard over, because he wanted it to look a certain way.

LD: Isn’t that a wonderful lesson from, what did you say…

AS: 13.

LD: Age 13.

AS: Yeah, yeah.

LD: To today. Wow.

AS: So then, I got a job bagging groceries and facing shelves at Cottle’s which later became Shop ‘n Save, and then Hannaford that we know today here in Maine. So there isn’t a Hannaford store I can’t find anything in, because I faced all those shelves and the methodology of how they put food on the shelves is still with me today.

LD: Really? Even toothpicks? Like, “Where are the toothpicks?”

AS: Yeah, I know where they are.

LD: Really? Alright.


LD: What was your first job in banking? ‘Cause if I have my info right, you started as a teller.

AS: I did. In 1986, I bought a suit at Farrell’s which was a men’s clothing store down on Water Street. I think the tags were still on the suit and I walked down the street, on Water Street. I skipped the first bank. I don’t know why, but I didn’t go into the first bank, I went into the second bank, and I got a job on the spot. I started, I believe, the second day, the next day, and ended up being a float teller and working… That was North Star Bank back in those days, later became Fleet, the following year. A lot of people in New England know that name, it’s part of Bank of America’s banks now, but it was a great job. I worked through summers and through college, vacations and whatnot. Early in my senior year, up to Orono, I ended up getting a job from them through management trainee. And many of my classmates were not very happy with me because I had my job all lined up very early in the school year. And I maybe rubbed that in a little bit too much. And then, so I worked through about an 18-month management trainee program for Fleet. And I started over in Farmington and then I became an assistant branch manager and went to Belfast, and then, ended up as a branch manager over in Dixfield, Maine which is right near Rumford.

LD: Oh, okay, right.

AS: That was my eight years through college and post-college at basically, Fleet. And then, I had the opportunity to come to Kennebec Savings Bank.

LD: So what was your first position here? And then, tell us about your path to become president and CEO.

AS: I was hired to be a loan officer. I showed up here in 1993, late ’93. And there were 25 mortgage files sitting on the desk. The prior person had left, and the files didn’t have anything done to them in three weeks, and it was trial by fire. I understood how to do lending from my days at Fleet, but not exactly how to lend the culture here at Kennebec Savings Bank, so it was a quick study.

LD: Yeah.

AS: I remember writing lists of questions working late at night, and lists of questions for my boss, who would come in at 8:00 in the morning and he’d spend about 15 or 20 minutes with me every morning, would go through my list of 25 questions, and then he’d go on his way and I would finish up the rest of the day to get the strategic direction that I needed to go. So it was a great experience. I really got lending in the blood and started to really take to banking. And so, I became, later years, the senior loan officer here at the bank, and then had the opportunity to become the treasurer of the bank, which back in those days was the CFO role. We kind of use the CFO role today a little more prevalently, but in the history of banking it’s really a treasurer, was the title that took care of that.

LD: I never knew that.

AS: Then I took over for head of operations, and then chief operating officer, and then I became president, and then I became a president and CEO. So that’s 24 years, and then eight years before that with Fleet, roughly 31 and a half years in banking.

LD: Oh, wow. That’s quite a path, and I love that I can just picture you sitting at the desk with this mound of files. So give us an update on the bank’s strategy. It seems like expansion is something that you’re focused on with the recent opening of your new location in Freeport. So now, you’ve expanded from Kennebec County into Cumberland County, as well.

AS: Yes.

LD: So what’s going on with that?

AS: Okay. Well, as a mutual organization, we don’t have stockholders. So I think that’s important to point out, we’ve been in existence since 1870, operating right here, headquartered in Maine, in Augusta, Maine for 147 years, and doing business under the same name for all those years. So our charter that was signed by Joshua Chamberlain in 1870 that put us into existence, was really for the common person to save money and buy a home, and we’ve never lost sight of those roots. It’s imperative that you grow. Any business knows that they can’t stay still, so it’s important to try to grow. We have a one-third market share here in Kennebec County, which is a big number.

LD: Yeah.

AS: Given all the different players, both traditional banks and credit unions, and then non banks, financial companies. So to have a one-third market share is a big number. But to grow, you really need to step out a little bit further, and so Freeport is our first endeavor, in 147 years of doing business, outside of Kennebec County. We did a lot of research looking at different communities and wanting to do, find a location that was not too far from a brand extension standpoint. We found that we did in fact have quite a few customers already down in the Freeport area that some of the central Maine folks had migrated down there. We’ve been open only a week.

LD: Oh, Okay.

AS: Actually just opened just last Monday.

LD: Yeah, just a week.

AS: And if any indication of the first week holds true, this will be a very successful office for us. So we had lots of walk-ins last week, hard to believe when we just cut the ribbon.

LD: Yeah. Did you have anything free, though? Did you have… Were people coming in ’cause you have free balloons or anything, or no?

AS: We were definitely doing some giveaways, but we actually ended up generating quite a bit of loan business.

LD: Wow. Where specifically is it in Freeport? What’s the address?

AS: It’s 181 Lower Main street, so it’s just next to Gritty’s.

LD: Oh, okay. Yeah, great. Okay. I love that Gritty’s, that’s a fun place, ’cause they have that nice outdoor space there. Alright, so Maine seems to have an abundance of law firms, restaurants, craft beer, and also community banks, so what separates Kennebec Savings Bank, and how do you communicate that to your customers and prospects?

AS: Well, it is true, Maine is blessed to have an abundance of community banks, I actually think that’s a wonderful thing. Maybe more so than some other states. So mutual banks were created back in the mid 1800s, the late 1800s. And those mutual banks are very prevalent in the north east, you don’t find them in other parts of the country. And so, without any stockholders is a little more flexibility in how you operate. And so, again, I look at it as a positive, that we’ve got all these community banks, because I really feel like Maine is better served under the community bank structure.

AS: For us, how do we separate ourselves from that pack? Really, back in the day, we all of the community bank stayed in their own backyard, and those backyards have gotten a little blurred as each of us are trying to get a little more growth, and there is, as with every industry, there’s a lot of consolidation that’s going on. How do we differentiate ourselves or separate from the pack, it’s really service, commitment to excellence in service, and a commitment to the community and giving back to the community.

AS: So now, let me spend a few minutes on both of those ’cause that sounds like the same that everybody says. And I think I wear my consumer hat when I leave the bank, and I don’t always find great customer service in other places, and I don’t mean that as criticism but everybody talks about giving good customer service. But it isn’t all that often that you really find that superior customer service, and so for us around here it’s like a religion.

AS: We hire people who are genuinely nice and helpful people. It’s sort of what’s attracted to the industry but we try to find folks that really excel at that. Here at Kennebec Savings Bank, customers really get their own personal banker. A lot of financial firms will say, “We have private banking,” and that’s for the wealthy where they get a personal banker. But here at Kennebec Savings Bank, every customer gets personal bankers. And so, you build a relationship with the person that you’re working with, and those folks can help you where you wanna go. Another differentiator for us in that service realm is, we don’t sell any mortgages on the secondary market; that’s not common. Most banks sell, at least their fixed rate loans. They either originate them to be sold or they wanna make sure they maintain the option to sell that loan. And here at Kennebec Savings Bank, we’ve never sold a mortgage in 147 years. So, every single loan stays on the books.

AS: Why I spend a minute talking about that is, it’s really important to understand that the people that you talk to, if you go in and see one of our loan officers actually does make the loan decision.

LD: Got it.

AS: So, they’re talking to the decision maker. A lot of institutions will kind of skirt around that a little bit and talk about the fact that it’s local decisions but you’re not actually talking to the person, most banks have centralized underwriting specialist, who understands all the rules in mortgage lending. Because we don’t sell on secondary market, we don’t have to do as many things that are required in that secondary market, and that really allows us to be able to have our decision makers out in the field, talking to the customer, and able to tell somebody on the spot, yes we can do this loan, and it makes a really big difference. So when folks experience that, they go, “Wow, there is a difference.” Mortgage lending is a commodity, okay? People say, “Why should I care, they’re just gonna sell it anyway.” And our response to that is, “You should care, and at Kennebec Savings Bank it really is different.” We’ve successfully differentiated ourselves from the marketplace. And we’re feeling very optimistic that taking that strategy to Freeport will do well for us.

LD: That’s quite a record of 147 years of never selling a mortgage.

AS: Yeah, it’s a big deal.

LD: Yeah, it is a big deal. And then, separating yourself with service. I know you have a pretty intensive management training program, and service has to be a big focus of that. You’ve got a lot of local college students that are hired, and then spend many years here, so how do you get them to stay? How do you make them the best in their game? Talk about that.

AS: So we are running our own little program of keeping youth in Maine.

LD: Okay, great.

AS: Okay.

LD: Great, we need that.

AS: I know that that’s a hot button issue in the economic development world. The funny thing is, summer in Maine is absolutely beautiful, July and August. And our staff want to take vacation in July and August, and we figured out about 20 years ago that, lo and behold, college students wanna work in the summertime, and they wanna make money. And so, why not hire college students during the summer months to back fill, so that our staff can take vacation time when they want to. We hire about 10% of our work force in the summer, it’s generally 10 to 12 employees, college kids, during the summer months. It costs about $3,500 a college student, so it’s about $35,000 for the organization in all-in expenses, and I think that is a small dollar to be able to allow our employees to be able to take vacation, generally when they want. That’s hard because July and August just is so beautiful here.

AS: Well, the added benefit to that program is, we sort of get to try before you buy. We get to see these college students for two, three, sometimes four years, and many of them are just incredible at how hard working they are, their work ethic, you really get a flavor for somebody over four or so summers. We’ve started a program, and then, some of them, we can’t hire and keep them all. But honestly, it really sort of works out. You’ve got somebody who might be an English major who wants to go into some other field. And so, we get them for a couple of years and then they wanna go to their particular field. We do have some finance folks who wanna work in the banking industry, and it tends to work out pretty well. And then, we have a management trainee program where we hire some of those folks to stay with us.

AS: And let me give you a good example, a couple of years ago, we had a gentleman who worked through his college years with us in the summer program. And in his last senior year, summer, he ran a program for us where we needed to scan some documents. And we were gonna hire an outside company to do that. We hired some additional college students that summer. And he and the team scanned 175,000 documents and indexed them all for us in two and a half months.

LD: Wow.

AS: And we ended up hiring this gentleman. He went through our management trainee program. And now, he’s overseeing our digital services here at the bank. Our chief operating officer started in the mail room. Our controller started on the teller line and went through up. So we’ve got a whole host of folks over the last 20 years that have really come up through the ranks from that program. So I think it’s critical as employers that we show young people a path, a career. We’ve had a lot of folks that say, “Well, I’m going to New York City after I’m done.” “I’m gonna go to New York City next year,” and, “I’m gonna go the next year,” and next year. And then they’re buying a house and they’ve settled down and they’re here.

LD: Yeah. And then, they can go for the weekend.

AS: Yeah, right. So we try to show them a path.

LD: That’s fantastic. Let’s talk about your leadership style. If you had to describe it in three words, what would they be?

AS: Three words is hard.

LD: Well, that’s it.

AS: Okay.


AS: Decisive, competitive and direct. If I could add an adjective, I would say very direct. So my staff all know, you have to tell it like it is with me. I want it straight up. Let’s not sugarcoat anything. And I’ve never met a problem we can’t solve as a team. And so, I’m very direct. If there’s an elephant in the room, I’m the person who’s gonna label it. We’re gonna talk about it. And then, we’re gonna solve the problem. And so, I tend to be pretty driven. But I never ask anybody to do something that I wouldn’t do myself, and I think that’s imperative.

LD: What’s your competitive style look like? Does the bank have a softball team? Where does that manifest itself? [chuckle]

AS: Well, beating the competition in terms of banking and improving upon last year’s results, from that standpoint. Competitive as in opening a location, so we talked a little bit about the Freeport location. Back in the day, I was in charge of opening a branch office. And we made a decision to open the office. We renovated the space… We rented the space, renovated the space, hired staff, installed ATMs in 53 days, and got regulatory approval in that time frame. And for non-bankers, that’s really fast. So we did the Freeport office. And our chief operating officer, Craig Garofalo, who works for us, he got the Freeport office done in 44 days. So that’s how the competitive nature…

LD: Okay. [chuckle] Well, everyone wins there, right, Andrew?

AS: Exactly.

LD: Everyone wins on that.

AS: The last piece, Lisa, before you go on, is you have to laugh at yourself. So from a leadership standpoint, you gotta be able to laugh at yourself. And I have just a quick story that goes back a few years. I was at a dedication of a home that was a HUD home that had been renovated, and the new family were there. And all these HUD officials are there, and the mayor is there. It’s a beautiful spring sunny day. And I’m standing next to the mayor of Augusta. And beautiful sunshine, and I look down and I’ve got one black shoe on and one brown shoe on. And I could have withered away but instead, I poked the mayor and pointed at my shoes. And we were like little school kids laughing over this. We couldn’t stop laughing over the fact that I had two different color shoes on. So you could appreciate that, probably.

LD: Yeah, I can totally appreciate that. I have this correct pair of shoes on right now but I would definitely do something like that. I think that’s unexpected for a banker. Not to stereotype but, yeah. I think [chuckle] having some fun is important in your gig. That’s hilarious. So, let’s talk about your team and building… You’re surrounding yourself with a strong leadership team. Have you acquired the team? Did you inherit people when you became president and CEO? Did you build your team? What’s the team look like?

AS: I have eight folks who report to me that are what we call the leadership team here. And some of the folks were working and were on the management team. I hired some outside folks. I think it’s imperative to have people who understand the history of the bank and the culture of the bank but I also think it’s positive to bring in people from outside, with a little slightly different perspective. So in many respects I grew up at the bank, working here for, at that time, 21 years. And so, I had a really good sense of what we’re doing well and what we needed to improve upon. So reaching out to try to find some folks that could give us just a slightly different outside perspective. So it’s about half and half, which I think was intentional, it was also half and half male and female in terms of that team. I think it’s important that we are a cross section of society and our customer base. I like to hire smart people. I like to make sure that people are gonna tell me like it is.

LD: Yeah, be as direct with you as you are with them.

AS: You got it.

LD: Yeah.

AS: That’s a little scary for some folks ’cause I do tend to label stuff. And at the end of the day, we want passionate people who are willing to work hard. And I know banking has this reputation of being sort of stodgy and maybe boring.

LD: Well, I think serious.

AS: Yeah. Yeah, but it…

LD: It is serious.

AS: Well, it is serious business what we’re doing.

LD: Right. Right.

AS: And I get a little reflective about the importance of the role that we play. And we’ll probably get to that a little bit later but it is a serious business, but you gotta have some fun.

LD: Yeah, yeah.

AS: And so, I think that’s important.

LD: Now, let’s talk about communication. So what’s your communication style? How do you communicate strategies to your customers, to your employees? Are you walking around? Are you getting to all the branches? Talk about that.

AS: Well, first and foremost, if I hadn’t mentioned it, I’m direct.

LD: Oh, you did mention it. Yep.


AS: So, I’m a very open and transparent. And obviously, if there is some secretive initiative that we have to keep confidential that’s one thing, but 99% of what we’re doing is out and open, and we try to talk about that on a regular basis with staff. I don’t know, Lisa, that you can ever get an A in communication.

LD: You can get an A minus.

AS: I think you can get A minus. You can strive for…

LD: And if you work with Nancy Marshall you might be able to get an A plus.

AS: There you go. I think you could get… You can strive for an A but I don’t know if you can ever communicate enough. So that’s a little bit of a challenge. I tend to be the person that wants to pull the group together and have a meeting about something. I tend to be the person who will pick up the phone or go talk with someone. I see enormous inefficiency in email. Email works really well for mass communication, so that everybody receives the information at the same time. Great. It is not the place to solve a problem.

AS: So if you get 10 people in an email chain, and everybody is trying to solve a problem, it starts to bog down. And we have some of our staff members that can be in meetings a good part of the day, including myself, not I particularly like that but sometimes it’s sort of necessary. And you can be 10, 20 emails behind that conversation, and so it’s hard to catch back up and chime back in. And so, I tend to wanna just meet or pick up the phone. Again, I think email has its place but really in society, we’ve kinda let it take over our lives a little bit.

LD: Yeah, yeah.

AS: And so, I tend to be pretty verbal from that standpoint.

LD: I think that’s a really interesting point, that email is not a place to solve a problem. I think that, yeah. I like that.

AS: I’m on more than a few boards and many of those boards have this mini culture of reply all. And so your email, your inbox just fills up. And it’s a little harder in the not-for-profit or the agency kind of world to get everybody together than it is here at the financial institutions.

LD: Right.

AS: It’s a lot easier to do that.

LD: Yeah. Okay, so as a community bank engaging with the community has to be a part of your daily DNA, right? So how do you make deep connections in the community? And then also, how do you engage your employees in that as well?

AS: So very clearly by example. I cannot tell you how many organizations I’m involved with, it’s double digits. Anyway, I personally feel that that is the responsibility of a bank president today, is to just straight up be involved in the community. Yes, we get some business from that. We’re out and about and interacting with people. But here in Augusta, for example, I’m on a couple of different committees and we saw a problem with the development of the downtown and needed to create a loan program that would help economic development in the downtown. And so, it was pretty easy to be able to try to craft something that would work to help that.

AS: I tend to encourage employees to get involved to make a difference. I had a new employee orientation the other day, in this room yesterday, actually, and encouraging employees to get involved. It’s important to make a difference. And I don’t really care whether it’s coaching tee-ball or softball or chairing the United Way campaign, everybody… You need to do what you love. I was at a leadership course once here at the Kennebec Leadership Institute that Steve Pecukonis teaches for the chamber, and it really stuck with me. Do what you love, don’t do it… You get flattered when you get asked to be on a particular board but make sure that you’re vested in the mission of that organization, because it’s not work, it’s not hard. It’s hard if you’re joining an organization just because they asked you.

AS: The other components to that, Lisa, are making sure that we give employees the flexibility to be able to volunteer. Now, that’s hard in some jobs. Let’s take our receptionist, who answers the phone. We have got two receptionists that work for us, that’s a little harder for that job to be able to have flexible hours. But my level at my job, I can set my own schedule and some of the lending staff can set their own schedule pretty well. So it’s easier depending on what the job function is but we need to make sure. We have 122 employees, last year we gave 6,000 hours of volunteer time back to the community.

LD: Wow.

AS: If you do the quick math, it’s about six and a half business days a year. Per employee, per year.

LD: Per person. Yeah. Wow.

AS: So, I think that number’s actually a little understated ’cause I’m not sure we’re capturing as many hours as are really going on. So that’s one of my efforts next year is to try to get our arms around that. And I think lastly, on that particular point, is just be proud. Our staff are very proud of what we do. We try to give back in terms of dollars but we also try to give back in terms of time, so it is in our DNA. I said this earlier on another subject but it’s part of the religion here. Banking is, we wanna be part of everything that’s cool, that’s going on either in dollars and in volunteer time. We want people to say Kennebec Savings Bank’s everywhere.

LD: Sure, and that’s 122 people that are ambassadors for the bank, right?

AS: Correct.

LD: Out there in all different aspects of the community. So yeah, that certainly makes sense. Now, let’s talk about your employees for a second, from an engagement perspective. What do you do here, I guess, to deepen employee engagement? Is it driven top down or some of the thing’s organic and just bubble up from the staff?

AS: It’s probably both, but definitely from the top. Happy employees make for happy customers. So the smile on their face, the smile in their voice is genuine if you take good care of people. So it means benefit programs, it means obviously some of that stuff has to change. The deductible on health insurance has to change but we try to insulate that from folks. I really feel strongly if you take good care of employees, your business will soar, the rest will take care of itself. And so, if you value employees, both input, and you take good care of them, if you work hard to make sure that they have good retirement programs. I love retirements. It’s a celebration for me. We had two employees who retired last year at 55 years old.

LD: Oh, wow.

AS: We’ve had folks who have worked for us for 42 years. And so, the fact that we have a strong retirement program, and people can be able to do that. One of our employees retired from banking with a great career and is headed to Florida to live with her sister to do her second career at Disney.

LD: Oh, awesome.

AS: So, here’s somebody who is a compliance officer and just got to be able to change life, and so I think that’s really important.

LD: That is really cool.

AS: So for us, we’ve got 122 employees, this engagement piece is a little easier for us. If you’ve got 2,000 employees, that’s a slightly different game.

LD: Yeah, yeah, yeah. Yeah.

AS: So it’s a lot easier. Were kind of a family here. I don’t want that to sound creepy like The Firm, John Grisham’s The Firm. But we do a lot of events for employees and families. We have a slumber party and movie night for our little kids, come in the lobby. We have a popcorn machine, we put out all the sleeping bags and bean bag chairs. We fill them with popcorn and candy and then expect them to watch a movie. Which doesn’t always work but ultimately, I think it’s…

LD: Yeah, but super fun.

AS: Yeah. And then Lobster Bakes.

LD: You have Lobster Bakes?

AS: We do.

LD: Are customers invited?

AS: No, this is just employees and spouses.

LD: Okay, just checking.

AS: Go down to Cabbage Island and take over the boat down there. That stuff matters. We have an employee appreciation day. An evening where we do a whole bunch of festivities and ends with an evening of dinner, and an appreciation for all that they do. Running the organization that you’re running that you have to take care of your employees, they have to keep… Be appreciated because they make your business.

LD: That’s right, yeah. It’s certainly what differentiates you from the competition, no doubt. Let’s switch subjects and talk about technology. So, so much of banking, like so many industries has been disrupted by technology. I guess, gosh from, the… I’m so old, I remember life before ATMs, and now today, online banking. So how do you personally keep up with the latest advances? And is it best to be on the leading edge of it or to kinda let it get tested a little bit before adoption?

AS: We don’t wanna be on the bleeding edge, we wanna be on the cutting edge. So there is a difference between the two of those. And so, I think that’s important. Personally, I love change. I get very excited for new technology. I have to be very honest, I ended up staying up until 3:00 AM to buy the first Apple watch. And so, for me personally, I like that stuff, I dive into it. So from the bank standpoint, that’s a little bit different, we have got our responsibility to make sure that we maintain people’s balances, and payments, and all of that stuff. There needs to be a certain level of stability there. And so we sort of run a dual track here at Kennebec Savings Bank where it’s high touch high tech.

AS: So I view technology investments as a way to free up our staff to be able to help customers when they need help. So this is really an interesting phenomenon that’s going on and I equate it to gas pumps, where back in the day you used to pull into a gas station and an attendant would pump you gas, and we’ve moved to self-service. We moved to self-service ’cause the gas companies wanted us to, or did we not wanna have to talk with the attendant, and the gas was cheaper if you didn’t have an attendant. It’s a funny line, and we’re really emerging in this in the banking industry where in some cases customers are starting to feel bad that they’re coming into the teller line and bothering a teller to give a deposit when they know they can do it themselves.

AS: So it’s starting to really shift into the self-service. And so, it’s important for us to invest in technology so that folks can deposit money through their phone, through the ATM. Last year, we had a customer who sold their business, received a $1 Million check, and deposited it at midnight at one of our ATMs. So that’s where technology has changed, and so they feel more comfortable that the bank has it than putting it in their purse, or their wallet or under their mattress. And that’s where the technology has caught up from that standpoint. So things have really, really changed. Our customers have… The number of customers here at Kennebec Savings Bank in five years have gone up 20%. The number of people coming into our branches has gone down by 20%.

LD: Oh, that’s interesting.

AS: So technology… I don’t look at technology as being able to cut staff, I look at technology as freeing up our staff. So if you wanted to build a home, or a camp, or a cottage, or something of that, you know, a big life, a changing event, you don’t really wanna do that over email, you don’t wanna really wanna do that over the internet. You wanna come in and talk to somebody ’cause there’s a million questions that go along with that. But to deposit a check or to pick up some cash, that’s a transaction that you can do on your own in many cases. And so, it is really a dual track and I think a lot of banks struggle with that. We’ve really been focusing on that for a long period of time, and so it’s easy. Again, we try to be on the cutting edge but not the bleeding edge.

LD: So what’s the future role of a teller in your world?

AS: I don’t think tellers will go away, I really don’t. There’s a social part of that. As customers age, it becomes more important. Elderly folks get a little more lonely, and there’s a component there, so we’re all gonna…

LD: Yeah, of the kinda human touch.

AS: Yeah, and we’re all gonna get older, so everybody is worried that the millennials…

LD: We have since this interview started.

AS: Yeah, exactly. We’re shifting, and I think when you get older you get a little more conservative. People are investing in the stock market but as they age, they start to move back towards cash.

LD: That’s interesting.

AS: I’m not one that really thinks that we’re fundamentally going to change, that the earlier generation is just gonna change banking forever because I think we’re underestimating that conservative piece. And I don’t mean politically conservative but I just mean fiscally conservative. As you age, you get a little more protective of those assets, and they tend to move back to the cash savings accounts, those kinda things.

AS: So I really don’t think the teller… I mean, there are branch models today where there are pods and your universal bankers where they can do it all. And though that is true, we want people cross-trained, so that they can do a lot of different activities there. I do think branch activity will continue to decline. So right here in the state of Maine, last year we had 500 branches. We, in the industry call them stores, across all banks. So the banking industry in Maine has 9,000 employees.

LD: Wow, okay.

AS: It’s a pretty good-sized industry, 500 stores. Those stores are down to 488 this year.

LD: Oh, wow.

AS: And so we’re starting to decline in the number of branches, so I think that will continue but I don’t think the role of the teller will change appreciably.

LD: Won’t change much. So what’s your outlook for Central Maine’s economy? What do you think the biggest challenges are here in Central Maine?

AS: Well, I am very bullish on Central Maine. Of course, I’m a little biased.

AS: I spent my entire life here.

LD: Many generations here, yep.

AS: We’ve seen, at least in my career, I’ve seen a lot of economic booms. I look at it like a tide. So it comes up from Boston, it moves into Portland, we get over the Richmond town line, and we get up to Central Maine. And then something changes in the national economy and then the water starts to recede back. And so, many times, we don’t feel the highs or the lows in Central Maine. We’re a little bit insulated with Maine General Health being a very large employer, the State of Maine is the largest employer in Central Maine, there’s a stability with both of those organizations that helps us. But I do feel like this particular economic cycle, the water is actually reaching Central Maine.

LD: Oh great.

AS: And so, I’m pretty bullish all of the downtowns in Central Maine are doing very well. They’re very different, each of the downtowns, they all have initiatives. Over the last 20, 25 years, we have spent way too much time trying to get businesses to reinvest in downtowns. And the conventional collective wisdom, at least in Central Maine has changed and that is, we need to get people downtown, we need to get residential units in the upper floors of the downtown areas. And then, once the people are there, the business will come.

LD: Then the business will come. Yeah.

AS: And it’s sort of a sea change for us, I think, at least for me, personally. And so, we’ve got several developers I think in the last year and a half, the Augusta Water Street, It’s got 43 new residential units on Water Street; that’s a lot, that’s a big change. And so, now you’re starting to see restaurants start to pop up. We are not the old port in Central Maine, I think in many respects, the old port is the envy of a lot of parts of the State. And I know it has its challenges too but at the end of the day, I think downtowns are really a important part of our our society.

LD: Yeah, it’s nice to see a lot of the development happening in Waterville too, right?

AS: Yeah, Waterville, same thing, Colby.

LD: Yeah, Colby’s Investments.

AS: Colby’s Investments, encouraging investment. A lot of what they’re doing is not necessarily their own dollars, they’re encouraging other investment. But they’re putting a residential unit right on… Filling one of the old holes to the main street there, and so again, it’s bringing people to the downtown, and then the rest of the economic activity will change, so it’s good.

LD: Great. Alright. So, let’s wrap up with some classic Like a Boss questions. What is a typical day in the life of a bank president?


AS: Well, no two days are ever the same. I start my day a little after 5:00, I get on the treadmill and run, sometimes walk. I watch Channel 6 news. And then, at the same time, I read the Wall Street Journal on my iPad. My wife says I’m not a multitasker, but I am actually in that instant multitasking.

LD: You’re doing three things at one time?

AS: I’m doing three things.

LD: Yeah. Yeah, yeah, yeah.

AS: Thank you for noticing that. I’m known to text fairly late into the evening and early in the morning, my staff members and email. It’s all consuming, I don’t know that the business ever really shuts off. We really run a 24/7 business, probably very similar to you.

LD: Well, yeah, we certainly do.

AS: In many respects, so from that stand point. After I’m done working out, I walk down to the end of my driveway and I pick up my paper, my Kennebec Journal.

LD: Excellent.

AS: And read it front to cover.

LD: Unprompted, by the way. Unprompted.

AS: Yes, yes.

LD: Yep.

AS: ‘Cause I still love the ritual of the paper.

LD: You and thousands of others.

AS: Yes.

LD: Thank you.

AS: And then, usually in the office by 7:30 or so in the morning, sometimes a little earlier than that. But I’ve already sent a fair number…

LD: You’ve done quite a bit.

AS: A fair number of emails from then. And then, from there, the rest of the day is quite unpredictable. It may be community service or meetings, and problem solving, and challenges of every day. We have 45,000 accounts, 27,000 individuals and businesses that count on us every day. Those people and organizations process millions of transactions everyday. We are not perfect. We try really hard and we have a very high tolerance, in terms of making sure that we deliver goods and services to folks. But at the end of the day, people count on us, and it’s imperative that we make sure that we keep their money safe, and process their transactions accurately. And so, yeah, no two days are ever the same.

LD: So what makes you excited to go to work everyday?


AS: The pride in Kennebec Savings Bank. I’m really, really driven to make this organization better than we received it, so to pass it over to the next generation in better condition than we received it. We have a wonderful history. There’s a responsibility with that history to make sure that this institution lives on and continues for another 150 years. Again, without having stock holders, there isn’t a “For sale” sign. Nobody can buy us. We get to choose our own destiny at the bank. And so taking that responsibility… You said, “Bankers are serious,” that’s probably pretty serious answer, but at the end of the day that’s really what motivates me.

LD: Now, so you talked about the history of the bank, have you ever been tempted to use the tag line, “Joshua Chamberlain’s Bank”?

AS: No. [chuckle] Definitely not.

LD: Okay, ’cause you should.

AS: Well, Angus King’s kinda got a… He’s got a corner on the Joshua Chamberlain thing, doesn’t he? [chuckle]

LD: Oh, yeah, I guess so. I guess he does a little bit, but yeah. I think it’s pretty cool that you traced the founding of the bank back to him, a true Maine hero. Okay. So, now, what’s the thing you like least about your job?

AS: When we don’t give a costumer the service that they deserve. It’s hard. As I said earlier, you process millions of transactions, we sometimes make a mistake. We don’t encode something correctly, and there are ramifications to that mistake. So our tellers work really hard, and they process transactions 99.8% of the time, 99.8% of the time, accurately. I don’t know if there’s any other industry that can say that. So that’s an important activity, so we need people who are focused on doing… They need to be social and they need to talk with the customers, but at the same time they have to process a transaction correctly. So what I like least is when we make a mistake. My feeling is, we have to own up to that mistake, we have to apologize, and we have to make it right. And it’s not that you’re ever gonna be error free, it’s how you deal with it. And it’s how quickly you deal with it, it’s how competently you deal with it, and that you admit your mistakes.

LD: Well, I think that’s probably your directness comes in, right?

AS: It’s possible.

LD: Right, right. Okay, so what keeps you up at night?

AS: I sleep very good. So not a lot.

LD: That’s great.

AS: I really do.

LD: Do you go to bed at 10:00? Do you go to bed at 10:00 like Chuck Hayes does?

AS: Yes, I didn’t know Chuck Hayes…

LD: You guys get up at the same time.

AS: I didn’t know Chuck Hayes got up…

LD: Yeah, yeah. Same schedule.

AS: What keeps me up at night? Maintaining what is special about Kennebec Savings Bank. And really adding to that success and being able to turn this treasure of an institution over to the next generation. It’s an enormous responsibility and I worked hard to get to where I am, I’m not sure I understood that level of responsibility moving up the ranks. I get it today.

LD: Yeah. When you joined the bank in 1993, right?

AS: Yes.

LD: Did you say, “One day, I’m gonna be CEO of this bank?”

AS: It wasn’t in ’93, ’cause I was buried in mortgage loans, but I… It was not that long after. I really started to take to it and the leadership group that were here when I started, gave me a lot of opportunity to special projects. And I had an insatiable appetite to take on whatever project it was. And so, we didn’t have a lot of staff, there were 44 employees, we had five officers. We have 37 officers today, we’re a 122 employees, it’s been a lot of growth. So it was a very different environment and a lot easier to wear a lot of different hats.

LD: So describe your Maine.

AS: You can take the boy out of Maine, but you can’t take Maine out of the boy. So I am a good old Maine boy, I have not really gone very far. I love all things that Maine outdoors has to offer, whether that’s camping, fishing, boating, hiking, you name it, skiing. I love it all. And so, from my standpoint, I wear a suit everyday, coat and tie, and when I don’t wear one, people don’t necessarily recognize me. But I am most comfortable in a pair of Carhartts, in a T-shirt, in a baseball hat, and on my tractor.


AS: That’s my de-stressor. Everybody has what works for them, but any day that I can spend on my tractor is a good day in Maine.

LD: Wow. That’s awesome. [laughter] Well, thank you, Andrew so much for your time, and wish you continued success here at Kennebec Savings. And any final thoughts from you?

AS: Yeah, sure. I’m really proud of all that Kennebec Savings Bank has to offer. All that we’ve done, I’m proud of our staff for the hard work that they put in day after day. As I mentioned earlier, the weight of the responsibility of 27,000 individuals and businesses, it’s important here. And so, our staff go above and beyond the call of duty everyday, and I’m so proud of everything that they do. So in final, I’m a big advocate of Kennebec Savings Bank and I would just encourage your listeners, if they’re not customers of Kennebec Savings Bank to give us a try, and you’ll experience how we make banking really easy.

LD: Well, we thank you. And remember, it’s Joshua Chamberlain’s bank, even though you won’t use it.

AS: That’s right.

LD: I’m telling you, you should. Well, thank you for spending time with us today.

S1: Thanks for joining us and thanks to our sponsors: Bernstein Shur, New England Cancer Specialists,, Harvard Pilgrim Healthcare, People’s United Bank, and Vistage. For more information on the sponsors, the Like a Boss podcast and Like a Boss live events, visit


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‘Like a Boss’ podcast: Chuck Hays – Maine General Medical Center Tue, 17 Oct 2017 14:22:24 +0000 Portland Press Herald Publisher and CEO Lisa DeSisto chats with Chuck Hays, whose career took him from Massachusetts Maritime Academy to marine nuclear engineering to the helm of Maine General Medical Center. Hays talks about the role of MGMC in the community,  and their objective, “… to be the leading community health care system in Maine, recognized for clinical excellence, customer satisfaction, financial stability and impact on community health.”

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]]> 0, 17 Oct 2017 10:47:07 +0000
Podcast: Democrats are lining up to face Poliquin in Maine’s 2nd District Tue, 03 Oct 2017 19:25:04 +0000 This week on the Podcast, politics reporter Scott Thistle joins Editorial Page Editor Greg Kesich and columnist Bill Nemitz to talk about the political dynamics in a race where no one really knows how the votes will be counted. And ranked-choice voting is just one of the, “multiple messes on multiple fronts,” the state government will confront in the months ahead.

Related stories:

LePage was to meet with Trump today in Washington

Lucas St. Clair enters race for Maine’s 2nd Congressional District seat

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Podcast: Like a Boss – One on One Live with Laurie Lachance, President of Thomas College Thu, 14 Sep 2017 19:49:00 +0000 Portland Press Herald President and C.E.O. Lisa DeSisto talks with Laurie Lachance, the first female President of Thomas College, about how she came to that job and what Thomas College means to its students and the business community in Maine.

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Podcast: Threats to shut down the state and defy the voters, plus why Trump won’t get impeached Tue, 23 May 2017 17:39:21 +0000 Portland Press Herald Editorial Page Editor Greg Kesich, and columnists Bill Nemitz, Alan Caron and Cynthia Dill discuss the State budget and if conflict over the voter-approved surcharge on high-income earners could lead to a state shutdown. Then they weigh in on why some think it’s unlikely that President Donald Trump will be impeached.

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Like A Boss Podcast: Mike Vail, President of Hannaford Supermarkets Thu, 11 May 2017 19:39:50 +0000 Mike Vail became president of Hannaford Supermarkets in 2015. He is responsible for all operations, including strategic direction, financial performance, product assortment, pricing, customer service and marketing. He also serves as a member of the Delhaize America Leadership Team.

Vail has more than 30 years of experience working in retail. Immediately prior to leading Hannaford, he served as chief merchant and supply chain officer for Delhaize America.

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Like A Boss Podcast: Lisa Whited – WTF: Workplace Transformation Facilitation Tue, 02 May 2017 13:41:14 +0000 Lisa Whited has played a role in transforming the culture at many of Maine’s top employers.   As the Chief Transformation Office at WTF (Workplace Transformation Facilitation), Lisa shares best practices on how to deepen engagement with your employees.  Learn how food, coffee and fitness are table stakes in today’s most productive workplaces.  Get expert advice on how to improve the morale and culture at your workplace in this episode of “Like a Boss”

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Podcast: The 2018 gubernatorial race starts to take shape Fri, 21 Apr 2017 14:12:43 +0000 Portland Press Herald Editorial Page Editor Greg Kesich, and columnists Bill Nemitz and Cynthia Dill discuss the week’s news, including the first official entry into the 2018 governor’s race, the disturbing case of Anthony Sanborn Jr., and Bill O’Reilly’s departure from Fox News.


Prosecutor facing scrutiny over 1992 murder trial agrees to testify

Veteran, attorney Adam Cote files to run for governor as Democrat

Bill O’Reilly is out at Fox News Channel

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Podcast: How a 25-year-old Portland murder case fell apart Fri, 14 Apr 2017 20:37:36 +0000 Portland Press Herald reporters Ed Murphy and Matt Byrne discuss in detail the case of Anthony Sanborn Jr., released on bail after serving 25 years for a 1989 murder. They talk about the circumstances of the crime, and the new evidence that led to his release. They also describe the dramatic moments in the courtroom when Superior Court Justice Joyce Wheeler announced the decision.

Related Stories:

Man convicted of 1989 Portland murder granted bail after star witness recants

In first hours of freedom, disbelief it was real after 25 years in prison

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]]> 0 Sanborn Jr., with Ned Chester, one of his attorneys, was sentenced to 70 years in prison at his 1992 murder trial.Tue, 18 Apr 2017 16:29:01 +0000
Podcast: Divisions at the State House. Who cares that the people have spoken? Fri, 07 Apr 2017 18:26:42 +0000 This week on the Portland Press Herald Podcast, Editorial Page Editor Greg Kesich is joined by Sunday columnists Jim Fossel and Alan Caron to discuss the Legislature’s moves to overturn the vote on the minimum wage, and the split that is exposing between elected democrats and the Maine People’s Alliance. Also using children as political pawns, and can bipartisanship ever happen if people never change their mind?

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]]> 0 MicrophoneFri, 07 Apr 2017 14:34:32 +0000
Podcast: Paul LePage evolves on healthcare. Casinos again? Trump changes politics, but how? Fri, 31 Mar 2017 16:44:05 +0000 Portland Press Herald Editorial Page Editor Greg Kesich, and columnists Bill Nemitz, Alan Caron and Cynthia Dill start by talking about Paul LePage’s apparently fluid views on healthcare as expressed in recent radio interviews. They wonder if America can get a real independent investigation into Trump’s Russia connections and from whom, How Post-Fact politics will change the country and re-shape the political center, and finish by previewing upcoming columns about tipping, casinos and reasons for optimism.

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]]> 0, 31 Mar 2017 12:45:55 +0000
Podcast: Like a Boss – Meredith Strang Burgess of Burgess Advertising & Marketing Tue, 21 Mar 2017 20:09:55 +0000 Meredith Strang Burgess, President and CEO of Burgess Advertising and Marketing sat down with Portland Press Herald President and C.E.O Lisa DeSisto to talk about the firm’s thirtieth anniversary.

They also discussed how a soil science degree at UMO prepared Burgess for a career in marketing, her early work with McDonalds, her time in the Maine Legislature, Burgess’ work with the Maine Cancer Foundation, her last-place finishes at the “Tri for a Cure” Triathalon, and moving from Congress Street to Falmouth after all these years.

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]]> 0, 11 May 2017 16:00:50 +0000
Podcast: Free advice for Republican politicians. Paul LePage, outsider? Fri, 17 Mar 2017 17:38:08 +0000 Portland Press Herald Editorial Page Editor Greg Kesich, and columnists Alan Caron and Cynthia Dill talk offer some free advice to Republican politicians. They also ponder some questions. Can Paul LePage still run as an outsider? Will Angus King talk to constituents in Maine Second Congressional District about Judge Gorsuch? Will Bruce Poliquin make a firm commitment? Can Obama sue Trump over wire tap tweets?

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Podcast: Is a LePage vs. King race in the offing? Panhandlers and the Pope. Fri, 10 Mar 2017 20:32:29 +0000 Portland Press Herald Editorial Page Editor Greg Kesich, and columnists Bill Nemitz, Alan Caron and Cynthia Dill talk about: What the Pope had to say about giving to panhandlers, and what Paul LePage is up to in Washington, Angus King’s central role in the Russia scandal, late-night TV in the Trump era, and what they’re reading.

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]]> 0, 10 Mar 2017 15:35:05 +0000
Podcast: Introducing our new conservative Sunday columnist Fri, 03 Mar 2017 16:19:07 +0000 Meet Jim Fossel, the newest addition to the Sunday editorial page crew, whose column debuts this weekend. Jim comes in with a more conservative viewpoint, and in this episode he talks with editorial page editor Greg Kesich about the different groups that make up the Republican Party

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]]> 0, 03 Mar 2017 12:09:59 +0000
Podcast: The debate over body cameras exposes city hall conflicts Fri, 24 Feb 2017 19:57:53 +0000 Portland Press Herald Editorial Page Editor Greg Kesich, and columnists Bill Nemitz, Alan Caron and Cynthia Dill talk about a new poll on the makeup of the electorate; How police body cams became a hot topic in Portland, exposing divisions in city hall, and if Bernie Sanders’ supporters are unfairly blaming Hillary Clinton for Donald Trump.

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]]> 0, 24 Feb 2017 15:57:55 +0000
Podcast: Maine’s delegation engaging in politics in Washington. Fri, 17 Feb 2017 07:00:41 +0000 After a week off due to poor weather, Editorial Page Editor Greg Kesich, and columnists Bill Nemitz, Alan Caron and Cynthia Dill return to the podcast to talk about the challenges and opportunities facing our elected representatives in Washington.

Will Bruce Poliquin ever take a stand?

Are liberals too critical of Susan Collins?

Will Angus King be on TV a lot?

and what’s up with Paul LePage?

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]]> 0, 18 Feb 2017 09:47:12 +0000
Episode 35 – How protest movements and referendum questions go awry. Senator Collins in the spotlight on confirmations Fri, 03 Feb 2017 19:39:24 +0000 This week on the Portland Press Herald Podcast. Editorial Page Editor Greg Kesich, and columnists Bill Nemitz, Alan Caron and Cynthia Dill discuss the collapse of the plea deal with the Commercial Street Black Lives Matter protesters, how Senator Collins is going to deal with Cabinet and Supreme Court nominations, and if the legislature is going to ignore citizen-initiated referendums on ranked-choice voting and minimum wage.

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]]> 0, 03 Feb 2017 14:42:00 +0000
Podcast: Protest marches send message about Trump. Where does that energy go? Fri, 27 Jan 2017 19:42:33 +0000 This week on the Podcast, our panel, including Editorial Page Editor Greg Kesich, and Columnist Bill Nemitz, Alan Caron and Cynthia Dill, discuss the beginning of the Trump Administration, massive protests last weekend in Portland and around the country, and the Governor’s feisty town hall meeting in Biddeford.

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]]> 0, 27 Jan 2017 14:57:09 +0000
Podcast: What to do about LePage? Collins’ star rises in Washington Fri, 20 Jan 2017 16:57:00 +0000 It’s a full house this week on the Portland Press Herald Podcast. Editorial Page Editor Greg Kesich, and columnists Bill Nemitz, Alan Caron and Cynthia Dill chat about what Governor Paul LePage is doing to the State and what Democrats in the state legislature can and can’t do about it. They also talk about Senator Susan Collins’ skillful handling of her pivotal role in a Donald Trump – led government.

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]]> 0, 20 Jan 2017 13:12:24 +0000
Podcast: Reader comments on privacy, insurance and minimum wage Fri, 06 Jan 2017 17:05:48 +0000 Editors Greg Kesich and Sarah Collins react to online reader comments from commenters Brian Peterson, midcoastg8tor, Gadfly371 and JJFW


Our View: Real ID law shouldn’t fly in Maine Legislature

Another View: Editorial mischaracterizes critics of eliminating tip credit

Our View: Don’t put off deadline on implementing retail sales of marijuana

Cynthia Dill: 10 things best left behind as we enter 2017

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]]> 0, 06 Jan 2017 12:14:40 +0000
Podcast: Sen. Susan Collins meets with our Editorial Board Thu, 22 Dec 2016 20:40:34 +0000 Maine’s Senator Susan Collins talks about how the Senate treated Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland, what to do about Russian hacking, how she’ll be evaluating President Trump’s Cabinet nominees and how health care might be improved. She also takes the opportunity to talk about some of her own accomplishments.

Article: Collins draws contrast with Trump on Russia, Affordable Care Act

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]]> 0, 23 Dec 2016 12:26:38 +0000
Podcast: Senator Angus King talks to the Editorial Board Tue, 20 Dec 2016 19:37:19 +0000 Maine Independent Senator Angus King touches on Russia’s influence on the election, the dedication of people who provide the Nation’s intelligence, the politics of healthcare, his philosophy on confirmations, how he’s planning on dealing with the Trump administration, and barbecued ribs.

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]]> 0, 20 Dec 2016 15:03:18 +0000
Podcast: Like a Boss – One on One Live with Leeann Leahy of the Via Agency Thu, 15 Dec 2016 15:21:25 +0000 Portland Press Herald CEO and Publisher, Lisa DeSisto, chats with Leeann Leahy,
CEO of the VIA Agency. Leahy grew up as an account planner at big and small agencies in NYC working on clients like Coca-Cola, JPMorgan Chase, NFL, Godiva, and Johnson & Johnson, to name a few. Three years ago she moved to Portland, Maine to join The VIA Agency as President.

Video of this event is also available at the Like a Boss web page

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]]> 0, 11 May 2017 16:01:58 +0000
Podcast: Olive branches might work, but fig leaves don’t cover fake news Fri, 09 Dec 2016 00:29:10 +0000

This week on the Podcast, Editorial Page Editor Greg Kesich, and columnists Alan Caron, Cynthia Dill and Bill Nemitz talk about the return of the State Legislature. What a 2018 Senate run between Paul Lepage and Angus King might mean, The Governor’s embrace of “Fake news,” and what’s behind the discord in Portland City Hall.

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]]> 0, 13 Dec 2016 09:28:27 +0000
‘Like a Boss’ podcast: Patrick J. Scully, CEO of Bernstein Shur, on leading the 100-year-old firm Wed, 07 Dec 2016 20:39:23 +0000 Portland Press Herald CEO Lisa DeSisto, chats with Bernstein Shur CEO Patrick J. Scully about what it takes to lead a 100-year-old firm of over 100 lawyers.  They discuss what the firm looks for in new talent, how the city of Portland is a great place for a law career and what keeps him up at night.

And there might even be some singing involved.

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Podcast: Transitions and Identity Politics Wed, 23 Nov 2016 22:35:28 +0000 Portland Press Herald columnists Cynthia Dill and Alan Caron join Editorial Page Editor Greg Kesich for a discussion of how the Trump transition is shaping up, and how the moves already taking shape will affect the presidential term.

Subscribe to the Press Herald Podcast on iTunes

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As Maine goes, so goes the nation. What does 6 years of watching Gov. LePage tell us about what’s ahead for America? Fri, 18 Nov 2016 20:38:42 +0000 This week, Editorial Page Editor Greg Kesich and columnist Alan Caron discuss the underlying political and economic forces that led to the recent election results, why Governor LePage might not be involved in the new administration, and how the LePage experience might have some clues as to what we might expect from the Trump Administration.

Subscribe to the Portland Press Herald Podcast on iTunes

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Podcast: The election is over. What does it mean? Fri, 11 Nov 2016 17:31:14 +0000 Portland Press Herald Columnists Bill Nemitz, Cynthia Dill, Alan Caron and Editorial Page Editor Greg Kesich discuss the election results. What do they mean? Where do things go from here?

Subscribe to the Portland Press Herald Podcast on iTunes

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Podcast: Listen to Election 2016 predictions from our columnists Fri, 04 Nov 2016 00:28:22 +0000 Portland Press Herald Editorial Page Editor Greg Kesich is joined by Sunday columnists Cynthia Dill and Alan Caron to share thoughts and predictions about Tuesday’s election, and which of the referendum questions they expect Maine’s voters to reject.

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Podcast: How will you vote Nov. 8 on legalizing marijuana? Wed, 19 Oct 2016 20:08:49 +0000 Proponents and opponents of Question 1, an act to legalize marijuana, faced off before the Press Herald editorial board, highlighting their points of disagreement on the upcoming referendum.

Subscribe to the Press Herald Podcast on iTunes

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Podcast: The Editorial Board: Question 5 – Ranked Choice Voting Mon, 17 Oct 2016 15:51:41 +0000 Kyle Bailey, campaign manager for the Ranked Choice Committee debated state Representative Heather Sirocki over Question 5, an act to establish ranked choice voting, at a meeting of the Press Herald editorial board.

Related: Our View: Ranked-choice voting is right for Maine

Subscribe to the Press Herald Podcast on iTunes

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Maine Credit Unions Save Members Millions on Financial Servicespresented by Wed, 08 Oct 2014 21:01:22 +0000 Over 660,000 Mainers are saving money every year just by choosing to be a member at one of Maine’s Credit Unions. But just how much money are they saving? A recent study found that loyal Maine credit union members are saving $1,253 annually per household and members are collectively saving $38 million per year. These collective savings are put together from earnings that are returned to members in lower loan rates, higher interest rates on deposits, and lower fees!

Maine Credit Union League President John Murphy said that the credit unions’ ability to focus on saving member’s money make credit unions an increasingly viable and valuable option for Maine people. “The credit union philosophy of putting the interests of members first continues to highlight the difference between credit unions and other financial institutions. Credit unions are owned and operated by and for their members, so all members benefit from better rates and lower and fewer fees. That is a key and distinct difference of credit unions.”

To find a credit union near you, visit

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Summit Natural Gas sponsors Portland Chamber award for leadershippresented by Tue, 07 Oct 2014 14:17:54 +0000 On September 29, the Portland Regional Chamber of Commerce presented its 161st annual Community Leadership Awards at a gala reception held at the State Theatre in Portland, attracting some of the most forward-thinking Maine business leaders, chamber members, community leaders, elected officials, and the public.

As a leader in the Maine natural gas industry, Summit Natural Gas of Maine was also in attendance as well as sponsoring this year’s Henri A. Benoit Award for Leadership in the Private Sector. This honor pays tribute to an individual in the region who has made outstanding contributions to the Greater Portland community through active leadership and individual efforts in civic or charitable activities. Summit chose Larry Wold, President of TD Bank in Maine for the honor.

Mr. Wold has over 30 years of commercial lending experience in Maine. He joined the TD Bank in 1991 as a commercial loan officer and rose through the ranks to his present position as TD Bank’s Executive Vice President of Commercial Lending for southern Maine. He began his banking career in the commercial lending department of Casco Bank.

Lynn A. McInnis, manager of residential and commercial sales for Summit Natural Gas of Maine, said Mr. Wold was chosen for sponsorship by Summit not just for his business acumen, but for his dedication to community service.

Mr. Wold not only leads a bank that has been growing its business in Maine; he also serves as vice chairman of the board for the Maine State Chamber of Commerce and sits on the boards the Maine Community College Foundation, the Maine Real Estate Development Association and Maine & Company, a nonprofit dedicated to recruiting firms to Maine.

“TD Bank is not only a big proponent of natural gas in their facilities, but also supportive of our ongoing project in both the Kennebec Valley territory and in Cumberland, Falmouth and Yarmouth,” Ms. McInnis said. “TD Bank is actively involved in converting multiple bank locations with Summit Natural Gas and worked in partnership with us to develop a commercial equipment leasing program.”

Beyond business leadership, Summit officials said they find Mr. Wold to be a valuable role model for how to deliver value to Maine customers.

“TD is a leading bank headquartered outside Maine that is highly responsive to businesses and individuals,” Ms. McInnis said. “Summit Natural Gas of Maine is similarly involved in a growth path that involves not only delivering great value to our customers, but to being excellent corporate citizens. Larry Wold is an excellent example of that kind of leadership. So we are happy to be able to honor him with the Benoit award.”

Leading charitable and civic engagement “is not just the right thing to do from a human perspective,” Mr. Wold said. “It’s a smart business decision as well. I’m fortunate I work for an organization that, despite its growth and changes, continues to have not just willingness but an expectation to get involved.”

“I really view our community as an ecosystem,” Mr. Wold said. “Unless all levels are healthy, the whole thing can’t be healthy. We can’t have a thriving business climate in our communities if a community isn’t doing well.”

Whether it’s sponsorship for seniors to attend a cottage retreat on the Maine coast, sponsoring events at the Yarmouth Clam Festival, helping recycle at the Taste Waterville, or ensuring products and services deliver value, safety, and jobs to the local economy, Summit is establishing itself as a leader in Maine business.

Chandra Leister, Portland Regional Chamber of Commerce’s director of programming and marketing, lauded Summit’s leadership in promoting best practices for Maine businesses. “They’ve supported the Chamber in a number of ways the last several years, including last year’s awards gala,” Ms. Leister said. “We asked them to sponsor an award and they said yes.”

Mr. Wold agreed. “Those of us with established businesses need to be welcoming of any new business with interest in helping Maine grow and prosper,” he said. “One of the things you hear about most is energy costs, and Maine needs all the help it can get. From [Summit’s] business to their support of the many Chamber events, that tells you they’re interested.”

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Mainers embrace natural gas energy in local restaurantspresented by Tue, 16 Sep 2014 11:53:10 +0000 Dozens of Maine restaurants are moving to convert to natural gas, discovering what thousands of individual homeowners have: that natural gas provides an energy source that outperforms on quality and price.

For some of these restaurateurs, saving on costs was the primary driver to converting. Ron Stephan, owner of Ricetta’s Pizzeria in Falmouth, said the conversion process was easy, and the 30 percent savings on energy costs has made a big difference in his bottom line.

“The switch went very well,” Stephan said. “The big thing is the price difference. We’ve been spending 30 percent less on our energy bills since switching, so that’s huge.”

Stephan said Ricetta’s has always used a wood-fired oven for its pizza but that natural gas has proven superior to propane, which is what he formerly used for cooking in the popular Route 1 restaurant.

“We do a lot of our sauté and Fryalator work, our baking, with conventional sources, so gas has been a great switch,” he said.

Just as a kitchen sells a house, natural gas appliances sell a kitchen, and many Maine restaurateurs say natural gas provides a better source of heat for cooking.

Some of those establishments include Arby’s in Waterville, Amato’s and Dominos in Augusta, Cappza’s Pizza in Waterville, Dancing Elephant in Fairfield, and Bueno Loco and Foreside Tavern in Falmouth.

Professionals at these and other Maine restaurants say the quality of their product is often enhanced by being able to use the adjustable blue flames created by a natural gas range top.
Cooks also recognize natural gas offers even heat, excellent temperature control, and instant on/off settings for cooking and baking when compared to electric.

The heat from a gas flame heats the sides, as well as the bottom, of pans, cooking food faster.
Cooks can change temperature rapidly, and they can immediately remove the heat when the flame is turned off. “You can still leave food on the stove to rest without continuing to cook,” Stephan said. And there’s less ambient heat to the rest of the kitchen.

Today’s natural gas ranges, ovens, cooktops and grills also feature high efficiency, easy cleaning and reliability. Many of the new models of natural gas cooking equipment use electronic spark ignition, rather than a continuously burning pilot, a feature that can save as much as 30 percent on energy costs.

To learn more about the benefits of cooking with natural gas, and the incentives available for converting to natural gas, visit or call 855.910.4433.

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Summit Natural Gas makes a long-term commitment to the communitypresented by Wed, 27 Aug 2014 15:41:48 +0000 When Summit Natural Gas does business in a community, it makes a long-term commitment to everyone in that community … not only to our customers.

One example is our recent sponsorship award to Lakewood Continuing Care, where Summit gave $5,000 for Lakewood’s seniors to attend a cottage retreat on the Maine coast in mid-August.

Lakewood — a 105-bed continuing care center in Waterville where staff work 24 hours per day, seven days per week to ensure quality, compassionate care — offers diverse daily activities for its residents in three neighborhoods: Alzheimer’s/dementia care, long-term care, and skilled nursing and rehabilitation care.

One of the activities it offers — an annual weeklong trip to Wonderview Cottages in Belfast — benefited from a cash gift made through Summit’s Community Sponsorship Program. The gift helped pay approximately one-third of the expense of the trip for residents of Moonlight Bay, Lakewood’s unit for Alzheimer’s and long-term care residents.

Since 2010, Lakewood and the Inland Hospital Foundation have conducted an annual auction to generate funding that would ensure residents have the opportunity to enjoy a getaway for a week at Wonderview Cottages in Belfast.

To ensure the getaway for Lakewood residents, the goal was to raise $15,000.

Donna Jo Mitchell, Lakewood’s senior director of philanthropy, said Summit’s $5,000 donation made a big difference in reaching that goal.

Proceeds from a community auction in May raised $12,000 to transport residents from the Alzheimer’s/dementia care and long-term care neighborhoods for a week in Belfast with 24/7 staff care. Through its Community Sponsorship Program, Summit Natural Gas of Maine made a generous donation of $5,000 to the auction, which combined with contributions from community members, physicians and staff members to generate sufficient funds for the trip.

“Our residents look forward to their summer vacation, maintaining that critical connection to the community while guaranteeing the safety and dignity of each resident,” said Mitchell, who requested funding from Summit.

“Fulfilling a resident’s wish to see the Maine coast not only improves the resident’s well being, but also impacts the caregivers,” Mitchell said. “They watch the transformation of their residents, who remember their youths. This takes them away from their aches and pains for a short while.”

The program “helps our seniors and our caregivers, with the power of being connected to the outdoors,” she said. “One week really makes a difference in the lives of our seniors. We are very grateful for Summit’s contributions to Lakewood’s annual May Day Auction.”

Mitchell said Lakewood strives to provide a measure of comfort to families as their loved ones are cared for by professionals with compassionate and quality care that makes the facility a real home. “The annual May Day Auction is a special event that helps fund a unique component to maintain each resident’s critical connection to the community as a way of improving quality of life,” she said.

Summit is proud to support organizations in the Kennebec Valley and elsewhere in the communities it serves in Maine to maintain a way of life that’s safe, sustainable, and full of vitality. That’s the way Summit Natural Gas does business.

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presented bySummit invests in the communities it serves by finding new ways to make Maine cleaner and more efficient Tue, 12 Aug 2014 17:05:52 +0000 Across the state, people are finding ways to become greener and more environmentally friendly. From the steps we take in our homes and businesses, to large community efforts, Mainers are working to protect and preserve our environment.

In the city of Waterville, residents have already reduced waste by 298.9 tons during the first year of municipal recycling. By recycling materials instead of throwing them into a municipal waste stream, the city saves and helps preserve the beauty of the state.

That’s why Summit Natural Gas was proud to be the recycling sponsor for the Taste of Waterville this summer.

Taste of Waterville is an annual community street festival showing off the best food central Maine has to offer. Local businesses serve thousands of slices of pizza, lobster rolls, hamburgers, hot dogs, and much more – and as you can imagine, there is a lot of waste that could be recycled.

Summit Natural Gas interns staffed the recycling center for the full length of the annual summer event, making sure bottles, paper and cans were properly picked off the streets, sorted, and recycled. The company also provided $1,000 to assist with the effort, keeping Waterville looking great while the city showed off its ample culinary creations and burgeoning downtown redevelopment.

It’s another way Summit invests in Waterville and the many other communities it serves — finding new ways to make Maine cleaner and more efficient while helping its economy expand.

Ross Nason, who serves on the Kennebec Valley Council of Governments and is chairman of the Recycling Committee for Sustain Mid-Maine Coalition which organized the composting and recycling effort for the Taste of Waterville, said it’s hard to quantify all the recyclables and compostables saved from the landfill and repurposed into valuable consumer products from the event.

“We fill 30 or so of the very large redemption composters with 50-gallon bags full of organic materials and numerous bags full of [bottle and can] returnables,” Nason said. “The bags are quite large” and the proceeds from the returnables are distributed among local charities.

Nason said the recycling effort “gives the community enjoying the Taste of Waterville an up-close-and-personal, firsthand experience in how to recycle, and what’s recyclable, and how to compost and what’s compostable. And it gives the residents and patrons of the event the chance to interface with people with knowledge to talk to.”

“Our goal is partly education in sustainability,” Nason said. “We hope people see how easy it is, and the tremendous volume of things that are repurposable. ‘Jeez, I could divert 80 or 90 percent of my trash! That’s much less costly trash I have to pay for at home.’

“We’re very thankful to Summit for helping us out so it can happen,” he said.

Why stick with the old way of doing something if it doesn’t create jobs, use resources efficiently or improve the quality of our hometowns?

At Summit, we’re in the business of giving Mainers better environmental options.

According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, “burning natural gas for energy results in fewer emissions of nearly all types of air pollutants and carbon dioxide per unit of heat than coal or refined petroleum products.” By converting from oil to natural gas, Maine residents can cut heating-related carbon dioxide emissions by nearly 30 percent.

Summit Natural Gas is employing more than 100 Maine residents and 200 local contractors to install state-of-the-art, high efficiency natural gas delivery to Waterville and dozens of other Maine communities, strengthening our economy, improving our environment and creating clean, efficient communities in which we’re proud to live, work and do business.

As Summit grows its ability to deliver natural gas, and Maine communities are expanding their efforts to recycle, together we are making a better Maine.

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presented byNo festival says “Summer in Maine” like the Yarmouth Clam Festival. Tue, 08 Jul 2014 17:44:38 +0000

Summer is a time for festivals, and no festival says “Summer in Maine” like the Yarmouth Clam Festival.

This annual tradition draws visitors from all over the country and the world, who come to enjoy music and arts, events and competitions, and of course, the delicious food.

Sponsored by the Yarmouth Chamber of Commerce, 3,000 volunteers organized by more than 35 nonprofit groups prepare food, staff booths, park cars, manage the grounds, and much more.

It’s a celebration for more than 100,000 people who attend the festival every third weekend in July. But the free three-day event also is important to the Yarmouth community. Funds raised through food sales and parking fees pay for student events, scholarships, Eagle Scout projects, contributions to local food pantries and soup kitchens, services for the elderly, maintenance of community parks, and more.

It’s a time for old friends to renew their friendships, and for making new friends.

As a major underwriter of the Yarmouth Clam Festival, Summit Natural Gas will also be on hand to make new friends and to show its commitment to the community. We’ll be a part of the fun. Look for our ice cream truck with free treats and offers for saving on the cost of heating your home.

As Summit continues to build out its network in Yarmouth, Falmouth and Cumberland, providing the potential for thousands of dollars in savings for residential customers, festival goers will get information about rebates of up to $1,500 for residents in Yarmouth, Falmouth, Cumberland, and dozens of other communities in Maine who convert their boilers to natural gas.

You’ll see testimonials about the hundreds of Yarmouth-area homeowners enjoying all the benefits of natural gas…. some without paying any conversion costs for a year, others with interest-free loans for converting.

By any measure, the Yarmouth Clam Festival is one of the most impressive summer undertakings in Maine. From July 17 through July 19, more than 80 different types of food and beverages will be served, including more than 6,000 pounds of clams, 13,500 Lime Rickeys, 6,000 lobster rolls, 2,200 pancake breakfasts, 1,500 shore dinners, 400 homemade pies, and 6,000 strawberry shortcakes.

More than 40 musical acts and entertainers will perform on four stages, and 165 crafters, artists, and photographers display and sell their work. Ten miles of electrical wire is run to power the festival. And the event features 10 sporting events and competitions that range from a diaper derby to a world-class professional bike race, plus a parade, fireworks, street dancing and an old school firefighter’s muster that is one of the cornerstones of the event.

That’s an impressive commitment, and in the spirit of the Yarmouth Clam festival, we plan to support the community with not just a taste of Maine, but with our own lasting show of commitment.

We have installed more than 1 million feet of pipe in the state, added 90 permanent jobs and another 400 high paying jobs during construction season, saved businesses and residents more than $20 million per year on their energy costs, injected more than $460 million into the local economy through a five-year infrastructure project, and helped provide a cleaner environment to help preserve the beauty of Maine by cutting C02 emissions 30% compared to heating oil.

That community commitment is what the Yarmouth Clam Festival — and Summit Natural Gas — is all about. Come visit our ice cream truck to learn more about the cool savings that come from heating with natural gas.

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presented byFinancially, natural gas is a winner. Tue, 24 Jun 2014 13:38:47 +0000 Stephanie Thibodeau was born in Fairfield, raised in Fairfield, and now serves as a town councilor in Fairfield.

All those facts make her uniquely qualified to say where the town has been, where it’s headed, and what the challenges are in between. But the biggest factor in signing up for residential energy service from Summit Natural Gas didn’t have to do with any of those factors. It was the fact that Thibodeau is retired and on a fixed income that compelled her to make the move.

Financially, she says, natural gas is a winner.

“My husband and I made the decision,” she said while speaking in her kitchen on a cool late spring afternoon. “And we are very pleased with the results. Right now we’re averaging about a 60 percent savings in heating costs.”

Prior to the conversion in October 2014, Thibodeau said she used a combination of heating oil and wood pellets to keep her home comfortable. But heating oil became unattractive after several winters of price spikes kept the heat on her family financially. Ordering, delivering, storing and burning wood pellets by the ton became impossible to maneuver. “Those wood pellet bags are very heavy,” Thibodeau said.

Both commodities arrived based on supply schedules, not demand, and came with costs that were volatile and hard to predict.

“The main reason we switched was, we didn’t want something that was as fluctuating in cost,” Thibodeau said. “We knew that we would be saving money in the long run, and that’s what we are looking for as we enter our senior years. Natural gas is regulated. We know what we’re going to be paying.”

Once word got around of the opportunity to convert, homeowners in her neighborhood signed up, and the main gas lines came to her area, she began interfacing with Summit’s sales and operations staff.

“The process of converting to natural gas was relatively easy process,” she said. “Once the pipes were hooked up to the house, all we had to do was call our furnace man. He came over, along with a representative from Summit Natural Gas, on the same day, and together they worked to turn us on.”

Since the conversion, Thibodeau has enjoyed big savings … and something else that can’t be quantified: peace of mind. “Summit Natural Gas is always there for you with a toll-free number,” she said. “So that helps, too. And you’re talking to real people. A timeline is very much in effect when you’re converting.”

With natural gas providing 24 percent of all energy needs in the United States, and rising, Thibodeau said she did her research on safety and availability before making the switch. “It’s a resource that’s readily available. It’s cleaner burning, it’s safer to use … and it’s less harsh on the environment.”

Thibodeau also said she feels a warmer quality of heat from natural gas. “My husband thinks I’m a little crazy, but I do. I feel like it heats the house more evenly. It doesn’t cool off as often.”

Crews are currently working on the South End in Fairfield — and in many other Maine communities from Falmouth to Madison — to connect people who have expressed interest in this new fuel source with the potential to deliver millions in energy and cost savings to Maine homes and businesses.

With plans to invest more than $460 million in local economies in the first five years, Summit is committed to a 10-year infrastructure build-out in Maine that will bring new, clean burning natural gas to nearly two dozen Maine communities like Fairfield, and to homes like Thibodeau’s.

As a town official, Thibodeau sees other benefits, as well: “We have an economic opportunity to increase our business in Fairfield, because people may want to come to us knowing that natural gas is an option for them.”

Visit to see if we’ll be in a neighborhood near you in 2015. We’re asking anyone living in the neighborhoods near our service expansion map to contact us at 621-8000 to discuss how converting to natural gas can save you time and money, burn cleaner for the environment, and always be there when you need it.

“I figure with the savings on our heating bills, in about a year in a half we’ll have the cost for the conversion has paid off, which is really nice,” Thibodeau said. “It’s been very much worth it. We’re looking forward to many years of working with Summit Natural Gas.”

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presented byWhat Role Does Technology Play in your Healthcare Practice? Sun, 08 Jun 2014 18:57:25 +0000 Recently I had the pleasure of speaking to health care executives at the New England MGMA Regional Conference on the topic of ‘Healthcare IT Strategic Planning and Budgeting’. The majority of the attendees in the audience were practice managers in healthcare organizations of all areas and sizes, so this post is geared mainly towards managers looking to get a handle on the IT of their practice. As you know, budgeting and a healthy IT infrastructure are topics that I am passionate about. Early in my career, I was on the front lines of the beginning of a growing healthcare IT trend, and was fortunate to work with a lot of really talented healthcare IT professionals, with years of experience for healthcare organizations. This hands on experience shaped my view on the role of IT in healthcare organizations. Strategic IT planning, foundational budgeting and IT governance are all elements that simply are no longer optional in today’s complicated healthcare IT environment.  Additionally, neglect in these areas are proving costly and in some cases dangerous.  With a little planning, real commitment and some guidance you can systemize the inclusion of IT strategy into your practice.

Doctors and other healthcare professionals tend to be myopic on their view of technology and healthcare practices are almost always influx with EHR efficiency, reimbursements and the overall healthcare regulatory landscape.  With all of these moving parts in the healthcare world, IT needs to be a foundation to their business plan and often times can understandably be overlooked amid all of the other business critical functions.

From my presentation, here is a snapshot of the major pillars to consider that help make IT support successful within your healthcare organization:

  1. Strategic IT Planning – Have a business conversation with your IT leadership. Take the time to sit down and discuss if you have a Strategic Business plan documented. Your organization must know where you going, what is your vision and what your organizational goals are. Once your team has a plan, you can then convert the business goals into actionable IT initiatives. Organize quarterly checkpoints to review the status of your initiatives. It is important that your team shares leadership consensus but also has the governance to put the plan into action and stay on track.
  1. The Foundation – Get together with your physician and administrative leadership as well as your IT leadership to create a budget process. There must be a clear strategic plan alignment and physician involvement is crucial to the success of the budget plan. Your team must also follow an annual IT planning process that is started at least three months before the fiscal year. This process must include clear IT objectives and initiatives that revolve around your budget and fit into your overall business plan. It is important to note that there are capital IT expenses and operating expenses that must be included in the budget.
  1. Myths That Cost You Money – Don’t make a serious IT decision without consulting with your IT resources and doing research. There are many technology myths that could cause your practice money. Take the time to include all available IT resources and do research to learn best practices and technology options for the challenges you are facing…it has likely been done well before you.

I am proud of our experience in supporting a variety of healthcare organizations and all of their healthcare IT needs. If you feel as though the three elements above are being ignored, are going unmet or your current partner doesn’t have the HIT and/or HIPAA Compliance experience, then it’s time for a serious conversation.

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MaineToday Media Distribution Warehouse Thu, 05 Jun 2014 15:20:25 +0000 ]]> 0 Thu, 15 Jun 2017 11:41:50 +0000 presented byIT Leadership: 5 Critical Indicators of a Healthy Technology Infrastructure Wed, 21 May 2014 20:20:54 +0000 I recently had the opportunity to spend some time with a CIO of a mid-sized company to talk about all things technology and in particular the business of IT from a leadership perspective. We spent the better course of an afternoon engaged in a rich dialogue sharing our philosophies around IT management and delivery. Now, I consider myself a fairly accomplished engineer and spend a great deal of time providing technology and business leadership consulting. So when it comes to the business of IT, I feel fairly confident my approach is on point. That being said, I relish opportunities to engage with people that are simply really good at what they do, and frankly I seek out those learning moments. This was one of those instances.

As we explored a multitude of topics, I continued to delve deeper into areas where I was sure to provide some extraordinary guidance and profound insight on how I would tackle the different challenges. We covered virtual desktops (VDI), security, the Cloud and just about everything you could think of including how to use technology to manage demographic gaps in large organizations. I came away from our conversation with a healthy perspective on what good IT leadership looks like and learned a few things in the process. As a side note, the value of having solid people skills is rarely discussed when assessing strong IT leaders and like this individual, nearly all successful CIOs or VCIOs have the ability to build successful personal relationships.

I start with this anecdote because it is a prime example where good IT leadership, a strong understanding of IT’s place in the business, and the utilization of effective technology can position an organization to be very successful. The reality is that most organizations either don’t have a strong CIO or have increasingly complex environments where even the most competent of CIOs requires additional outside support to ensure best practices across the entire organization. As we look at the variables to evaluate when making a decision to outsource some or all IT functions, keep in mind these are guiding principles and not hard and fast rules. In the following section, I cover some basic tenets that are clear indicators that you should be looking for outside support. In my next post I will cover the business of IT, which is about the process of incorporating business strategy into technology planning.

Calling in the Experts, 5 signs you should not be handling your own IT

  1. Downtime is an issue: If you are aware of and/or experiencing downtime with any of your core technology, it might be time to upgrade your approach instead of your systems. The consistent plummeting prices of High Availability (HA) solutions leave no room for anything short of 99.999% uptime for business-critical technology. In fact, so many vendors now include inherent redundancy in their products that chances are good you already own most of what you need to be truly HA.
  2. Budget Buster: As you analyze your IT expenses on a regular basis, are you consistently spending more than you either budget for or feel you should? If both of those resonate, it’s worth considering options. A good technology partner will build next year’s budget over the course of the current year based on the evolving needs of the organization.  IT budgeting is an iterative process, not a singular event. Then once the budget is finalized, it should only be deviated from under exceptional circumstances.
  3. Strategic Plan: Does your organization have a clear and documented IT Strategic Plan that is tightly aligned and modified with the Business Plan? Without this, you can’t possibly be on the right track with business strategy.
  4. Technology as an asset: More times than not, CEOs and business owners view technology as a necessary expense instead of a strategic asset to drive growth. If you are not actively strategizing and utilizing technology to gain a competitive advantage, you are likely in 2nd place already.
  5. Security is uncertain: If you think you are safe and secure, you better be sure. Security is no longer just a firewall. Security is process, planning and testing. The implications of a breach for most organizations far outweigh the cost of putting a solid security and compliance protocol in place immediately. If you don’t have this, time to call in the experts.

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presented bySummit offers new energy options in Maine Sat, 10 May 2014 17:35:14 +0000 With the start of construction season, Summit Natural Gas is bringing new energy options to Maine. That means more savings, more convenience and more control over the way we heat our homes and power our businesses.

In a state still overwhelmingly reliant on truck-delivered heating oil and labor-intensive wood, we are creating a brand new energy infrastructure for Maine that’s safe, reliable and efficient. At the same time, we are providing 400 high-paying jobs at the height of construction season, contributing new taxable property to municipalities, and allowing businesses major cost savings that generate still more economic value.

We have already laid more than 1 million feet of pipe in Maine, but we’re just getting started. By investing more than $460 million in local economies in the first five years, Summit is committed to a 10-year infrastructure investment in Maine that will bring new, clean-burning natural gas to nearly two dozen Maine communities.

Nothing this substantial happens overnight. It’s a process.

As 2015 construction season begins, you will find us continuing the build-out of the system near roadways and byways in Augusta, Cumberland, Fairfield, Falmouth, Waterville and Yarmouth.

Inside the work zone, we are continuously making improvements to our processes to better serve our customers and ensure that natural gas pipelines remain among the safest fuel transportation systems in the world. Many systems contain meters designed to detect changes in pressure, and many include automatic shut-off valves that isolate leaks. In addition, SNG adds a harmless product called Mercaptin to our gas that smells like rotten eggs, in order to better monitor the supply.

Construction is scheduled to begin this month and will continue through the fall. Summit will be working with a team of experienced, qualified contractors to ensure strict compliance with all state, federal and safety regulations, and to ensure minimal impacts on the traveling public and on public roads.

Are we coming to your area?

Because we align construction with the number of signed service contracts in each neighborhood, decisions to move forward on specific streets are made based on customer demand.

We are reaching out to anyone living in the neighborhoods near our service expansion map to contact us at (207) 621-8000 to discuss how converting to natural gas can save you time and money, burn cleaner for the environment, and always be there when you need it.

Visit to see if we’ll be in a neighborhood near you in 2015.

If we are nearby, now is a good time to order service, and remember to always call us at (800) 909-7642 to report any concern about safety or undue traffic stoppages around work zones.

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presented byThe Rise of Ransomware: 3 Key Points Mon, 28 Apr 2014 14:26:05 +0000 By Dr. Eugene Slobodzian

Recently, there was more disturbing news, this time taking place in Winxnet’s home state of Maine. A computer virus infected the central server for a local law enforcement branch, holding their data hostage until they paid a ransom of $300.

This crime was the work of a virus, not a “hack” in the sense of the word as we know it. There was no human actively manipulating their system on the other end. Instead, this was a pre-calculated and automated compromise that could happen to any business of any size.

Small and medium-sized organizations are especially ripe targets, as their electronic data is often vital to their business operations. Unfortunately, criminals have figured out that even if this data has no direct value to the attacker (like credit card numbers), it must have value to the business.

I have consulted organizations after being struck with ransomware, and without adequate backups, the most cost-effective solution is to pay the ransom, and hope that they can get their information back. It appears that these attacks are on the rise, and they hit closer and closer to home. Here are three key points to consider when working to protect your information:

  1. Education and training. Most compromises start with a wrong click of a mouse. While healthy IT environments and policies are vital pieces, be sure that your IT provider and staff take the time to remain educated about the threats. Security awareness is a cornerstone of success. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, and this has never been more true with information security today.
  1. Backups, backups, backups. Just because you think your data is getting backed up, it does not mean it’s true. Take some time to assure that backups send completion notices and, most importantly, practice test restores periodically. These controls are important for a variety of reasons, not just because of criminal activity. Unforeseen disasters of all kinds can steal data and disrupt normal business activity. However, if you have all of your information backed up in a redundant and safe place, these disasters don’t have to spell “closed for business.” A strong IT provider will be able to offer you viable options, as well as reporting to prove that the solution is taking place. Also, make sure you interrupt your automatic backup process if the data becomes compromised with ransomware to prevent overwriting the good files with the bad.
  1. Stricter controls. The notion that one bad user click can spell disaster for the whole organization should be a thing of the past. There are a number of inexpensive controls that will allow your company to run securely. These include web content filtering, intrusion detection and prevention, and multi-layer virus protection. Your IT or information security provider can help you choose the right controls for the type of data you are protecting and your budget.

Compromises does and will happen, and hindsight is always 20/20. A crime like this can happen to any person or any organization. The majority of cybercrime is not targeted, but opportunistic, and it is important to remember that it just doesn’t happen to “other people.”

We are all targets. With the “pros” of increased availability and value of our electronic data also come the “con” of increased risk. If you are worried that your training, IT environment or security controls are not where they need to be in order to protect the lifeblood of your organization — your data — then it’s time for a conversation.

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presented byExpectations for Technology in Your Organization Mon, 14 Apr 2014 13:25:04 +0000 By Chris Claudio
As a part of our involvement in the Portland Regional Chamber of Commerce, I recently spoke at the fourth installment of our technology series on the topic of “Expectations for Technology in Your Organization.”

As a recovering “IT guy,” I am passionate about changing the way technology is not only viewed, but how it is fully leveraged in organizations.

IT has evolved tremendously in the past decade. There is a new relationship between IT and “the business,” and IT strategic planning is no longer optional. IT used to be an investment that companies were forced to make rather than a strategic focus that could be used to improve their business. IT is now a strategic requirement/asset in many organizations, and CIOs and CFOs are expected to drive budgets around IT investments.

Additionally, technology for many organizations is increasingly a competitive advantage. Many organizations use technology to stand out and differentiate themselves against their competitors. Imagine operating where intelligent access to key data points or measures allows you to proactively make decisions across all facets of your business. IT helps organizations and leaders make decisions based on data rather than intuition.

Here are the four major pillars that make IT support successful within your business:

  1. Budget — Have a business conversation with your IT team. With your IT support, create clear objectives and initiatives that all revolve around your budget and fit into your business plan. Having this conversation with your IT team not only provides more clarity, it also gives IT the ability to prioritize how to best execute against their budget.
  1. Deliverables — Require and measure expectations and deliverables from IT leadership and support staff or technology partners. Providing a clear list of these requirements will foster a much more collaborative relationship with IT, as expectations are defined and understood.
  1. Expectations — Provide expectations for all end users, especially leadership. Providing clear knowledge around what is to be expected across technology changes, upgrades, migrations, etc., fosters better communication and understanding of what IT is doing.
  1. Best practices — It is highly unlikely that any initiative IT is undertaking has not been done elsewhere and more than likely documented. From these collective experiences, best practices and lessons learned are born. As a matter of protocol, these best practices should be adopted as part of the process around delivering IT projects.

These four pillars are crucial to a healthy business/IT relationship. If you don’t feel like you are getting this kind of support from your IT provider, then it’s time for a serious conversation about the strategic role IT plays in your organization.

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presented byNatural gas delivers sustainability in Maine Sat, 12 Apr 2014 12:59:44 +0000 Did you know the U.S. spends $400 billion to power buildings each year, about half of all domestic energy use? Natural gas delivers sustainability by reducing energy waste in these buildings, conserving fuel use, reducing carbon dioxide emissions, saving companies money that creates or preserves jobs, reducing reliance on foreign imports, and increasing resiliency for Maine’s economy and individual businesses.

Immediately sustainable. With natural gas, we do not have to wait for new technical inventions to achieve large-scale emission cuts. By replacing five coal-fired plants with five gas-fired plants, we can achieve the same volume of carbon dioxide emission reduction as with 9,000 megawatts of new wind power. For as little as $39.95, home owners can take advantage of converting their residential boiler to natural gas, in most cases in one afternoon. Collectively, Mainers who have converted will save a total of nearly $3.7 million annually on their winter fuel bills. That’s sustainable.

Strategically sustainable. We do not have to worry about being beholden to hostile foreign powers for our energy. That’s because proven reserves of domestic natural gas in our existing conventional U.S. reservoirs provide enough energy to meet more than 60 years of heating demand at today’s consumption rates.

One industry study estimates the U.S. has more than 2,200 trillion cubic feet of gas waiting to be pumped, enough to satisfy nearly 100 years of current U.S. natural-gas demand. And companies are finding more conventional natural gas every year – replacing each year’s use with the new discoveries annually. Large-scale domestic supply has been carefully and responsibly exploited within our own borders for decades. That’s sustainable.

Environmentally sustainable. In order to respond to climate change, widely considered one of the biggest challenges facing mankind, the world must achieve a low-carbon energy mix. Natural gas is the cleanest of hydrocarbons, easy to control and efficient in distribution and use. Climate researchers believe the only way to limit the rise in global temperatures is to cut emissions of greenhouse gases in half. As the concentration of atmospheric carbon dioxide passes 400 parts per million, natural gas offers solutions to drive down the world’s carbon footprint by producing 45 percent less carbon dioxide emissions than coal, 30 percent less than oil, and 15 percent less than wood. That’s sustainable.

Already, Sappi North America’s Somerset Mill in Skowhegan is reporting operational savings of more than 30 percent by being one of the first major Maine businesses to convert to natural gas. The switch from 80,000 to 100,000 barrels of oil per year will improve earnings for further reinvestment and improvements to processes and help support 700 Maine workers who produce 2,400 tons of paper per day, according to CEO Mark Gardner.

While Summit invests $460 million in local areas via its five-year infrastructure build out, total annual savings generated by bringing natural gas to the Kennebec Valley will exceed $50 million – money that can be used to expand operations, hire staff, increase operating efficiency and obtain maximum global competitiveness that revitalizes local economies.

To save money and stay comfortable, learn more about the sustainable options that natural gas can provide for you by visiting or contact our office at (800) 909-7642.

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presented byAre You Ready for Windows Server 2003 End of Life? Sun, 23 Mar 2014 18:52:44 +0000 Windows Server 2003 (including Windows Server 2003 R2) support is ending on July 14th, 2015. In short, this means that Microsoft will no longer be releasing patches or security updates for this operating system (OS). To put this in perspective, even though Windows Server 2003 has been in extended support since 2010, Microsoft still released 37 critical updates in 2014 alone to address specific bugs and security threats. In order to keep your environment running as securely and efficiently as possible, the time to migrate to new servers is now. You’re going to need a plan.

  1. Wait, what does “End of Life” mean? It sounds serious.  It is.End of support for Windows Server 2003 R2 and 2003 Small Business Server (SBS) 2003 means there will be no more updates or patches from Microsoft to support this OS and thus, making compliance with industry specific standards and regulations impossible. No piece of technology—software or hardware—is a “set it and forget it” model.  Mainstream support for Server 2003 ended in 2010 but Microsoft continued to release security updates as bugs and new threats were uncovered during the extended support phase, which kept Server 2003 R2 and SBS 2003 as secure as Microsoft could make this eleven year-old operating system. This extended support phase also allowed businesses running Server 2003 to remain compliant even though more secure versions of Windows Server had been released.  When support ends on July 14th, 2015, this OS will no longer be supported or updated by Microsoft. Vulnerabilities will no longer be fixed for any new security threats and paid support from Microsoft will no longer be available.  While this threat to security and support should be troubling to all businesses, regulated industries need to take special note, as this lack of patching and updating will mean that this now unsupported OS will not pass a compliance audit.
  1. Why do they do this? Just like the cost of maintaining an older vehicle, costs of maintaining a legacy server can add up quickly, both for Microsoft and for your business. Windows Server 2003 has had a great run, but now it’s time to move on to an OS that has addressed some of the more recent updates and security concerns, like Server 2012.  Even if Microsoft wasn’t ending support for this OS, the time may be prudent for your business to consider virtualization or migrating your data to a newer, more robust OS that also includes a modern security architecture and complies with recent security standards.  As with any technology decision, remember to align your purchases and choices with your long term business goals.  Your trusted IT services provider should know your short and long term business objectives, and be able to suggest the right solution and equipment.  Maybe it’s time to consider the cloud, or maybe you want the control and visibility of having all of your data literally within arm’s reach.  There are pros and cons to each option, and it’s important to have a partner on your side to help you make the right choices.
  1. What steps can I take now?  Migrating data and applications is a serious step. Consider all of the applications you are currently running on your 2003 Server.  Will they work on Server 2012? Will they work in the cloud? What kind of service will I get in the cloud?   What is the current work load on my current 2003 Server?  Your IT services provider should be able to answer all of your concerns within the context of your unique environment and have a complete list of all 2003 machines in your environment–including security systems, phone systems, off-network diagnostic applications, etc.   Remember, your environment is truly an ecosystem; one change in a different area could have a drastic impact on another seemingly unrelated application.  Always consult with your trusted IT services provider when making any hardware or software decisions, and always refer back to your business objectives when evaluating IT purchases.

There are a lot of elements to consider when realizing you need to upgrade from an EOL machine.  While Microsoft has helpful information, it is important that you receive guidance and expertise of a local partner.  If you feel as though your current IT services provider does not have the breadth and depth of knowledge to do a Migration Assessment or Network Assessment, then perhaps it’s time for a conversation.

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presented byThree Reasons Why Your Business Needs Managed Security Mon, 17 Mar 2014 18:02:31 +0000 By Dr. Eugene Slobodzian

You have no doubt heard me rant and rave about developing your information security program, the changing threats businesses face on a daily basis, and different ways to make your data more secure. Today, I am here to give you three solid reasons why a Managed Security Service can help you meet your business objectives.

Information security is a complex and rapidly evolving field. Not many businesses can afford to have a dedicated, knowledgeable security specialist on staff. While many organizations would usually need a few hours of expertise per week, it is nearly impossible to hire a part-time resource, as they are very much in demand right now. Enter the idea of outsourcing your security functions with a proven Managed Security Service. Here are three reasons why every small and medium sized business needs to invest in this:

  1. You can’t do it all. Or, you can’t do it all “well.” Outsourcing used to be a bad word, but now is seen as something that offers the very real value of allowing you to concentrate on your core competencies as a business. Engaging a trusted provider with a proven track record is the more fail-safe way to begin to develop your culture and environment of security.
  1. Evolving threats. The threat landscape is constantly changing. Just as soon as you feel that you have protected yourself from one threat, a new variation emerges. A Managed Security Service will be able to pick up the drum beat of security for you and will be responsible for monitoring and responding to the new threats, so you can concentrate on running your business.
  1. Detection and response can save you time and money. Locking your door and checking its structural integrity once or twice a year is a valid control, but it isn’t enough. Every day, we see that breaches happen all of the time, and in companies of all sizes. While a breach may be inevitable, this event alone will not spell the end of days for a company that is prepared. Once the initial compromise happens, hackers need one thing the most to extract value from it – time. If you have solid detection mechanisms in place along with a tested response process, you will take that time away from the bad guys. It will minimize the impact of these unfortunate, yet inevitable, events to your company. In other words, it will help you ensure that one employee clicking a wrong link in the browser does not lead to all your internal sensitive data syphoned somewhere in Russia.

“Information security” and “cyber security” have become buzzwords that everyone is familiar with, and many managed IT services companies are offering varying levels of support – in addition to announcing more “managed” opportunities. IT security does not have to be confusing or something only enterprise level companies can afford.

Businesses of all sizes need to build their information security program now, and a quality Managed Security Service from an experienced provider is an affordable way of doing that. If you do not feel as though you have a strong understanding of your IT security, then perhaps it’s time for a conversation with your trusted IT provider.

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presented byFour IT myths that could be breaking your technology budget Mon, 03 Feb 2014 17:04:32 +0000 By Chris Claudio

Recently I had the privilege of presenting at the Portland Regional Chamber of Commerce about “Effective Strategic IT Planning,” a topic that I feel strongly about.

All too often I hear that IT budgeting and planning is a complicated and painful procedure that business leaders feel is wrought with hidden costs, endless software and hardware upgrades, and confusing lingo. I am passionate about this topic because stress and confusion around strategic IT planning is simply unnecessary when businesses have a strong relationship with the right IT partner.

In this post, I am going to provide some highlights from my presentation regarding the common “myths” of IT budgeting, with the goal of giving you more confidence and peace of mind during your next IT budgeting cycle.

In the IT field in particular, there are a series of myths surrounding “best practices.” These myths are often driven by vendor marketing departments looking to push as much product as possible, or by IT providers with deep relationships with specific vendors who may have other interests in mind, rather than those of your business.

While strong supplier relationships are important, be sure that your IT services partner spends their time advocating for you rather than a specific product. In my presentation at the Chamber, I covered 10 myths that we commonly hear. Below are the four most pervasive and damaging to your budget process:

  1. PC and other device life cycles are every three years. Often IT providers work closely with specific vendors, and while this can certainly be a benefit to have this expertise and buying power in your corner, be sure the IT provider/vendor relationship is not such that you are being sold products that you do not need or that are not a great fit for your environment. Your trusted IT services partner should be just that; yours and trusted.
  1. Software life cycles are every three years. Software can fall into the same three-year life-cycle trap as your physical devices and has the same validity as the advice to “wait 30 minutes before you swim after eating.” With the right partner, upgrades and migrations should only be made if and when you and your environment are ready and such a move fits in with your strategic business plan.  While you do need to be aware of the life of your products with regards to effectiveness and reliability, the refresh cycle should be rooted in your strategic business objectives, and therefore might not be something that is scheduled like clockwork. A good IT services partner will work with you on prudent and realistic time tables.
  1. Small businesses don’t need to worry about information security because they don’t have as much to lose and aren’t a target.  This is probably the most incorrect and troubling of the myths. Everyone is a target of a data breach, from enterprise level businesses to small- and medium-sized organizations. Although SMBs certainly don’t have the high profile of some larger organizations that have been the target of attacks recently, the risk is equally as great. Be sure your IT provider has the staff and processes in place to support your environment to best prepare your defense against these attacks. A trusted IT partner who truly has the infrastructure in place to support your business should have IT security experts who can help ensure your devices and your people are ready.
  1. My IT service partner takes care of my backups and disaster recovery (DR). Another dangerous myth is one surrounding backups and disaster recovery. It is often assumed that when outsourcing or contracting for IT support and services that backups and DR are simply “included.” Similar to IT security, backups and DR are critical components of a healthy IT environment. Critical to this is documented process and planning on exactly what is being backed up and a very clear roadmap to follow should a disaster strike.  Finally, backups are ultimately your responsibility as a business, so make sure there is full clarity on what is actually happening to safeguard your data in the event of a failure.

Being aware of some of these myths is the first step to a less painful IT budgeting cycle. The right IT partner can help you navigate these myths and avoid common pitfalls that usually result in unnecessary costs. Additionally, you’ll likely find you have a little more money every year because you’re investing where you need to, not where vendors want you to.

In the end, a sound strategic IT plan will drive the investments based on business initiatives and pragmatic technology needs.

In my next post, I will discuss the second half of my presentation covering “The Five Principles that Should Drive IT Budgeting.”

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presented byIT budgeting principles for business leaders Sun, 02 Feb 2014 12:18:59 +0000 By Chris Claudio

A complete understanding of all of the principles of IT budgeting can sometimes seem overwhelming, not only because of the proverbial ‘moving parts’ included in each cycle, but also because of the time involved in the planning process.  In my last post, I covered each element in detail. With the understanding that most managers don’t have time to refer back to this post each week or each budgeting cycle, we created this helpful infographic to quickly display the principles of solid IT budgeting for you to reference when you need it.

If you feel as though these elements are being ignored, are going unmet or just aren’t part of the conversation with your trusted IT support provider, then it’s time for a discussion with a partner that is more in tune with your business needs.

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