October 3, 2010

Moody would use business savvy in office

The independent, who built his garage into a small empire, says he understands the challenges facing Maine businesses.

By SCOTT MONROE Morning Sentinel

(Continued from page 2)

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Independent Shawn Moody delivers his opening remarks at the gubernatorial debate in Fairfield on Wednesday. He says many of the principles he's applied to his business could work in state government.

Michael G. Seamans/Kennebec Journal

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Shawn Moody

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CANDIDATE ON THE ISSUES

Economy: Conduct “exit interviews” on businesses that have closed, relocated or downsized; create incentives for “micro” businesses; promote the “Buy in Maine” campaigns; use technology to put all state spending online and make it easily searchable.

Energy: Pursue wind, hydro, tidal, solar and more; upgrade existing hydro dams with newly designed turbines that use less water pressure; build more offshore wind projects; promote biomass electrical energy via steam-powered turbines.

Education: Require vocational teachers to “work” at least part of the year in their  fields; expand programs in the university system; consolidate classes with decreased enrollment and utilize Web-based technologies; institute merit-pay for teachers based on a comprehensive review.

Health care: Allow residents to purchase health care across state lines; pay health care providers what’s owed to them; update billing systems; create financial incentives that promote healthy behaviors.

Welfare: Transition people from welfare to “workfare” by redeploying some of the “lean” state work force to manage the program.

READ THE LATEST MAINE POLL

PROFILING THE CANDIDATES

This is the fourth in a series of profiles of Maine’s gubernatorial candidates.

9/12: Libby Mitchell-D

9/19: Paul LePage-R

9/26: Eliot Cutler-I

TODAY: Shawn Moody-I

10/10: Kevin Scott-I

CHECK OUT OUR Governor's Race special section

"We were growing, expanding, but we all agreed that to take the business to a new level, it was a wise move," Moody said of the sale. "At that point we were recycling 1,200 cars a year and employed close to 20 people."

Moody spent time traveling around the country for LKQ, meeting with people at other potential acquisition sites and devising business blueprints.

After that ended in 2000, he focused on growing the Moody's locations. The company now has five body shops, in Gorham, Scarborough, Portland, Biddeford and Sanford. Moody, president and general contractor, has 75 employees with an annual payroll of more than $4 million. About a third of the company is owned by the employees through an employee stock ownership program.

OFFENDED BY 'JOE THE PLUMBER'

Moody and his wife, Christina, married in 1987 and have four children: Danielle, 22, a recent business graduate from Byrant University in Rhode Island; Jimmy, 20, a junior at Bates College; Ben, 19, a recent graduate of Gorham High School now working at the shop; and Nathan, 16, a junior at the high school.

Christina Moody said she was surprised that her husband wanted to run for governor.

"He's never been what I'd call a 'political person,' but he's always followed politics, being in business," she said.

Moody says there were two main reasons he decided to launch his campaign in June. He felt discussion of "Joe the Plumber" during the 2008 presidential campaign "denigrated tradespeople and craftsmen." Also, he thought the state's economic woes begged for a leader who understands the challenges facing small businesses, which are the lifeblood of Maine's economy, he said.

Moody, who refers to his employees as "co-workers," thinks many of the principles he's applied to his business could work in state government, from surveying customers (citizens) to open-book management (budgets and payroll) to key performance indicators (monthly financial snapshots).

His company's mission statement, devised by his employees, is "commitment, strength, growth."

Moody's campaign office is in the building that used to house Allen's junkyard offices on Narragansett Street. Almost every house on the street has a Moody campaign sign in its front yard.

Danielle Moody handles campaign event scheduling.

"The biggest thing we have facing us is name recognition," she said. "So, when I do scheduling, he's out from 6 in the morning to 9 at night sometimes, and he's had a great attitude about it. I'm really proud of him."

Christina Moody said she's been impressed by the campaign's volunteers, which include family, friends and townspeople.

Driving his old Chevrolet pickup around town, Moody waves to passing drivers. As he walks through the collision center, he greets employees by name.

Not everyone in Gorham is an enthusiastic supporter. Carl Phillips, owner of Phillips & Sons Body Shop, said Moody receives favoritism from local officials, which has hurt Phillips' business and others.

He pointed to a case in 2006 when Moody's Collision Center received a tax break through the creation of a tax increment financing district, or TIF, in order to extend three-phase power lines up the road so his business could expand. According to a June 21, 2006, story in the American Journal newspaper in Westbrook, Phillips was one of several business owners who criticized the deal.

"Shawn's the favorite of the town of Gorham. He can do anything," Phillips said. "I think Shawn is in it for himself more than he is for the people. His main goal in life is to shut down every small body shop and every salvage yard. But I'm not saying he didn't work hard; I don't dislike him. He's just done some things I'm not too pleased with."

(Continued on page 4)

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Shawn Moody grew up in Gorham and started working on cars at 14.

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