On March 8, the chamber held the 2019 SMMC Annual Awards Dinner presented by One River CPAs and Mechanics Savings Bank.  Previously in this column we’ve highlighted our other seven award honorees from that evening: Lois Skillings, Tamara Lilly, Bath Savings, The Brunswick Golf Club, Brian Robinson, Bruce Van Note and Matt Barbour.  Today, we want to highlight our final two honorees: STARC Systems and the WILL Power Committee.  Below are excerpts from the speeches delivered that night in honoring them.

STARC Systems: Excellence in Entrepreneurship

Innovation is a word that gets thrown around a lot but few embody it quite like STARC Systems. They’ve created a product in Brunswick, and they ship to 48 states, including Alaska and Hawaii and several countries too.  And it all started with one idea.

Tim Hebert is a 3rd generation builder and founder of STARC Systems.  His family’s company, Hebert Construction, did a lot of work in healthcare facilities and Tim was concerned at lack of great options when it came to construction dust and debris on sensitive job sites, like hospitals.  Hanging plastic sheets is okay, but it doesn’t block sound and dust from sensitive sites.  Drywall was the typical solution but that created a lot of construction dust.  Tim got connected with co-founder Bruce Bickford and together, they designed the industry’s most innovative and robust modular temporary dust barrier and containment system.

That sounds more confusing than what it is.  If you haven’t seen their products you should jump on their website (starcsystems.com) and see their 3 minute product tutorial.  Their telescoping panels have aluminum front covering, a urethane core and galvanized steel back inner covering.  The pieces install quickly with two people being able to install up to 100 feet of wall in one hour.   What’s more is it blends right into the background.  It’s super durable, reusable, installs quickly, is easily disinfected, sound reducing and it looks like a real wall.

Once the product was created Tim and Bruce- with the help of sales veteran Chris MacKenzie- began STARC Systems in TechPlace on Brunswick Landing.  In 2017, an investment from Blue Heron Capital propelled STARC’s growth and President/CEO Chris Vickers came on board.  They’ve gone from 3 employees to 40.  They’ve had 45% year over year growth.  They distribute nationally and in 2018, they shipped to Australia for the first time.  They just expanded to second shift manufacturing to keep up with demand, and like many businesses in our region they’re hiring as many people as they can to be assemblers, CAD operators, inside sales and customer service representatives.

It took three years for the idea to go from Tim’s brain, to on-paper with Bruce, to in-market with Chris’s sales push.  And the last four years has been nothing but extraordinary growth.  However, their success is also a success of our region as they began and expanded at TechPlace and even though they outgrew their TechPlace space, they’d formed a workforce from the region.  Therefore, when they expanded, they did so just down the street and kept those jobs in our region.  Overall, their success is one that we can celebrate as a victory for the community.

WILL Power: Director’s Award

The Director’s Award goes to an individual, entity or organization that the director feels is worthy of recognition.  For me, I cannot think about anything I’m more proud of in the past year then the WILL Power committee.

The WILL Power committee is the Women in Local Leadership team, a committee of the chamber. In just over a year they’ve become one of the brightest accomplishments of my time here, and their origin story fits with everything I want our chamber to be.

During my first year, after joining this chamber in 2016, I met with as many people as I could and asked them “what do you want your chamber working on?”  Repeatedly, I heard mention of a women’s networking group that existed for a brief time.  In November of 2017 I called a meeting via our e-newsletter and 17 business women were part of the initial meeting.

We opened the discussion under the leadership of Linda MacMillan saying ‘this group can be what it was before, or it can be something completely new- what do you want a women’s group to be?’  The answers were multiple: some people wanted networking, but others wanted training, support, guest speakers, mentoring, wellness and much more.  It was decided we would not be the Women’s Networking Group, but something new and different.

On Valentine’s Day 2018 we launched our new group with a spicy new logo from Burgess Advertising and even a tagline: “WILL Power: Where there’s a WILL…’  The first year we held the kickoff breakfast at The Brunswick Hotel and Tavern.  We also had a Champion’s Panel at Maine Maritime Museum featuring Lois Skillings of Mid Coast- Parkview Health, Betsy Biemann of CEI and Meredith Burgess of Burgess Advertising.  The Highlands hosted two events for us in 2018 with the Speed Networking event in June and the Flower Arrangement and (wine night) Stress Reliever in November.

This year we held our WILL Power 2nd Annual Valentine’s Breakfast at The Brunswick Hotel and Tavern with keynote speaker and author Dr. Patti Fletcher joining us to sign copies of her book Disrupters: Success Stories from Women Who Break the Mold and it was a huge success.

There’s been so much incredible energy around this group, and I’m so proud of the planning team that launched WILL Power and those that continue its work.  The chamber might have been the catalyst to launch the first meeting but the planning team deserves the credit for all that has been accomplished.  The team will be revealing 3-4 more events in the coming months as we secure dates and locations but several ideas we are looking at include a self-defense course, a boat cruise, additional speaker events and much more.

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