Sea Bags owner, CEO named business people of the year

Beth Shissler, president and CEO Don Oakes of Sea Bags, LLC in Portland have been selected as Small Business Administration’s Maine Small Business Persons of the Year.

In addition, Heather Chandler of The SunriseGuide, LLC of Portland was named Maine Woman Owned Small Business of the Year by the SBA.

Sea Bags is a designer and manufacturer of goods made from recycled sail cloth. The business was founded in 2006 by Shissler; Oakes was brought on as CEO in 2013. The selection of Sea Bags was based on the continued growth of the business, and the support the leadership team has shown for the small business community in Maine.

“Sea Bags demonstrates how Maine businesses are adapting to changing markets by combining traditional industries with new tastes,” said SBA’s Maine District Director Amy K. Bassett.

Shissler and Oakes will compete with the nation’s top small businesses for the honor of National Small Business Person of the Year during the SBA’s National Small Business Week celebration April 29-30. 

On May 1, the Maine District Office of the Small Business Administration will recognize Shissler and Oakes along with the other 2018 Maine Small Business Award recipients at the Harraseeket Inn in Freeport. 

Falmouth firm pays it forward to celebrate 40 years

Michael Lebel and Philip Harriman, founding partners of Lebel & Harriman, have launched “40 Forward,” a celebration of 40 years in business by giving $1,000 dollars a week to 40 charitable organizations, starting in early April.

With a touch-tone phone, a typewriter and a part time secretary, Lebel & Harriman began delivering financial planning advice in March 1978. “Pay phone booths to call in for messages, carbon copies of correspondence for the file, and even thick rate books to project life insurance policy cash values were the business tools of the day,” said Mike Lebel.

Today, Lebel & Harriman is one of the largest retirement plan, investment and insurance advisory firms in New England.

“From the beginning, we understood that clients were earned one at a time and that we were not closing deals; rather, building relationships for years to come. I’m proud to say, 40 years later, we still love what we do today as we prepare for another 40 years … ” said Phil Harriman. 

Giving Back

Thornton Tomasetti, an international engineering firm with offices in Portland, has announced the launch of its community service program, TT Gives Back. The program was created to improve and increase volunteerism opportunities for employees, and building and improving communities is at the core of the new program.


The Best in Show Award, given annually to the display at the Maine Flower Show with the highest average of points from the judges’ score sheets, was awarded in March to Campbell’s Landscape & Design of Topsham and Maine Heritage Timber Frames of Lisbon Falls for their outdoor stone bar display featuring a handcrafted timber pergola.

Timothy Atkinson, who sits on the Portland Board of Education, was awarded the FE Pentlarge Ally Award at the EquityMaine annual awards gala March 24 in recognition of his distinguished service to the LGBT community.

Evergreen Credit Union recognized Riverside Auto Sales & Service in Portland as Lending Partner of the Year for providing low-cost loans to consumers in 2017.  

Hires, promotions, appointments

Junior Achievement of Maine has hired Colby Senior as program coordinator for Southern Maine, training teachers and volunteers and effecting program delivery. With the new hire, Events & Program Coordinator Jenna Jeffrey moves into a marketing and events-focused position.

Broadreach Public Relations in Portland recently hired Meg Handlin as a senior client manager/public relations strategist. A long-time resident of Portland, Handlin is nationally accredited in public relations.

 New Ventures

Knack Factory, a commercial video and photo production company, has opened a content production studio and creative co-working suites at 72 Auburn St., Portland, across from the Northgate Plaza. 


In honor of the care he received as a patient, Dr. Harry Beskind, center, recently donated the proceeds from an art show he hosted in Yarmouth to Mercy Oncology. From left are Barbara Vanamee, Lenore Kraus, Dr. Roger Inhorn, and Risa Olson, RN.

HandlinPastor Arthur Fairbrother Jr. of Scarborough served as Pastor of the Day in the Maine Senate on April 2. Accompanying him was his son, Andrew Fairbrother. Fairbrother has served the congregation at Royal Ridge Church of God in Scarborough since 2013. During their visit, they met with Assistant Senate Majority Leader Amy Volk, R-Cumberland.President Elizabeth Shissler and CEO Donald Oakes of Sea Bags, LLC in Portland were named the Maine Small Business Persons of the Year by the Small Business Administration.