by Paul Bousquet, Special to the Standard
Spooner’s Bar & Grille Acknowledges Ace Hardware
Throughout the month of December, Larry Perry’s unselfish effort in promoting other local businesses via the outdoor advertising sign outside his Ace Hardware business drew a great amount of positive comment. In fact, it impressed Ray Bostock of Spooner’s Bar & Grille to such an extent, he contacted Horst Drexler of Anything Printed. Horst contributed a sign that Ray hung under his Spooner’s sign which read, “If you’re shopping, don’t forget Ace Hardware.” It’s another example of the spirit of Woodstock in neighbor helping neighbor. It proves the old adage that a rising tide lifts all boats.
2011 Was Year Of Reevaluation For ShackletonThomas
It is a fundamental principle for businesses to assess the way they do business.
Thus it was for Charlie Shackleton and Miranda Thomas, the husband-wife team of artisans who have been making fine furniture and world-class pottery for the past two decades from their shops in Bridgewater to pause and reassess their position.
At the beginning of 2011, they made a conscious decision to combine their individual talents as a team rather than as individual businesses to better serve their customers. Additionally, while their retail store in Hanover was especially successful a few years ago, they more recently perceived a strong interest in customers wanting to see where and how the products were created and were willing to travel a modest distance to do that.
Charlie and Miranda turned over their retail space in Hanover to Simon Pearce to focus on their core business in Bridgewater. Shackleton made adjustments in the workplace to make furniture to harmonize with the time frame of its showroom hours to better display the fine workmanship that goes into a piece of furniture or pottery that bears the ShackletonThomas name. A new and more inviting entrance to the shop-showroom was created to better display the products. As the year progressed, a robust and consistent demand for ShackletonThomas products produced a backlog of orders.
Then, at the end of August, Tropical Storm Irene caused flooding that overwhelmed the Bridgewater Mill causing $400k in damages literally destroying their businesses.
Rather than taking on a “woes me” attitude, Charlie and Miranda seized the moment as an opportunity to improve their operations. Both Charlie and Miranda reworked their workshops and purchased new more efficient equipment to better position their businesses for the future.
Shackleton then began a quest for two-three young people who had an interest in the furniture-making business. Surprisingly, he received applications from dozens of young professionals who were reevaluating life values. They universally expressed a lack of fulfillment in being involved in simply a profit based environment. The opportunity for a better quality of life while creating things with their hands drew three outstanding young people to the ShackletonThomas team. According to Charlie, they have brought a renewed and vibrant energy to the operation with one focusing on new furniture and pottery designs and improved marketing opportunities.
In retrospect, Shackleton said, “We look at Irene as a means of cleansing the company.”
It spawned a greater sense of innovation and adaptability that is the basis for all successful companies.
Shackleton is ever mindful and grateful for the outpouring of community support as well the incredible and prompt assistance of FEMA and SBA. Shackleton explained, “We strongly feel a 6th sense of belonging.” He concluded, “We are held in the web of a great collection of experience and support.”
Bridge Open Off Old River Road
The bridge that isolated the offices of the Woodstock Foundation from Old River Road is now open. The Middlesex Corp. of Littleton, MA, the company that replaced the bridge damaged by Tropical Storm Irene, is putting the finishing touches on the 62’ bridge that spans Barnard Brook. According to Dan Nash, superintendent of the bridge work,
abutments were replaced and three 27” wide steel girders were installed forming the underpinning of the crash-tested bridge design. Beefy laminated bridge members form the sides of the bridge capped by hemlock planks cut, sawn, and delivered to the site by 91-year old Floyd VanAlstyne of East Barnard.
Once completed, Nash, a twenty year veteran with Middlesex Corp., is moving on to oversee a multi-year bridge project in Bourne, MA. Middlesex Corp is a privately held corporation established in 1972. It has extensive experience in highway and bridge work, mass transit, and marine construction projects. Depending upon the scope of its work, it employs between 250-500 employees generating between $50-100mm in annual revenues.
Vermont Farmstead Cheese Names Bollinger To Board
Dave Bollinger of Woodstock has recently been named to the Board of Directors of Vermont Farmstead Cheese Company of South Woodstock. Bollinger moved to Vermont in the mid-80s following a career at Manufacturers Hanover Trust in New York City. Shortly thereafter, he teamed with Hunter Melville to create CyberRentals.com, a vacation rental company growing it from a start-up to a national Internet company. Its success attracted the attention of HomeAway.com, a world-wide vacation rental company that subsequently purchased CyberRentals.com.
With Melville serving as treasurer of Vermont Farmstead Cheese, Bollinger has supported the company since its formation.
Bridgewater Grange To Host Party For Clara Hoisington
Several weeks ago, the Vermont Standard included a story on the remarkable life of Clara Hoisington of Bridgewater who will be celebrating her 90th birthday on Saturday, January 14.
According to her good friend Betty Putnam, the Bridgewater Grange is hosting an Open House for Clara on Saturday, January 14 from 4–7PM.
Here’s an opportunity for all those who honor and know Clara to come and say ‘hello’ to her, her family and her many friends. Few of us reach such an age; even fewer raise 8 children without the benefit of running water; fewer yet take in and nurture a foster child with disabilities for nearly 7 years of his formative life as did Clara.
There will be food and song to celebrate Clara’s life.
For those who want to wish Clara a happy birthday but are unable to attend her party, Clara’s address is 1892 Rt. 100A, Bridgewater Corners, VT 05035.
The purpose of this column is to primarily recognize what is happening in the business community. If you have news of a business nature, you may reach Paul Bousquet via e-mail at Paulbousquet@comcast.net or by phone at 802-457-9256.
This article first appeared in the January 12th, 2012 edition of the Vermont Standard.