From a field of 16 nominees, five finalists have been selected for the 2014 Aroostook Entrepreneur of the Year Award sponsored by LEADers Encouraging Aroostook Development, Momentum Aroostook, University of Maine Fort Kent, Northern Maine Community College, University of Maine Presque Isle and Husson University.
The finalists will be honored and a winner announced at an awards dinner Thursday, May 22, at NMCC.
“We had several outstanding nominations and the selection committee did a good job getting it down to the five finalists,” said LEAD Executive Director Ryan Pelletier. “The theme for this year’s competition was ‘Resources — The Idea Starts Here’ and the finalists showed if you have a good idea and run with it, good things can happen.”
“This year’s recognition, representing the largest number of nominees since the inception of the award in 2009, makes the statement that entrepreneurship is alive in Aroostook County,” said LEAD President Jim Davis. “The County provides the type of environment and support (as evidenced by programs at NMCC and elsewhere) needed by people of all ages who have an idea for bringing a product or service to the marketplace. LEAD is proud to be a co-sponsor of this annual competition and awards for those who truly are making economic development happen.”
The finalists are, in alphabetical order of business: Cam Manufacturing in Presque Isle, owners Marc Brown and Mark Jones; Mike’s Family Market (Limestone) and Mike’s Quick Stop (Caribou), owner Michael Cyr; Northern Prosthetics in Presque Isle, owner Cory LaPlante; Northern Turf Management in Van Buren, owner Patrick Vaillancourt; and Valley Motors/Pelletier Ford in Fort Kent, owner Steven Pelletier.
Cam Manufacturing is a precision metals manufacturing and machining and tooling company, which employs about 10 in the Presque Isle Industrial Park. The company, which has been in business for 13 years, has continued to expand its customer base and facility’s footprint over the years.
Michael Cyr employs about 24 people at his two retail establishments in Limestone and Caribou, generating approximately $300,000 in payroll. Cyr has also been active in different community organizations and is currently the president of the Limestone Rotary Club.
Cory LaPlante started Northern Prosthetics in 1997. At the start, he was the only employee. Now the staff has grown to nine full-time and two part-time employees. In 2013, the U.S. Small Business Administration named LaPlante Young Entrepreneur of the Year for Maine and New England.
Patrick Vaillancourt is the youngest entrepreneur among the finalists. When he was only 16, he started a lawn maintenance business, which eventually evolved into Northern Turf Management. Just three years removed from giving the salutatorian speech at Van Buren District High School, Valliancourt is a junior in college majoring in environmental horticulture and business, while continuing to run a thriving business.
Steven Pelletier has gone from the forestry industry to the automobile industry with great success. According to those who nominated him for the award, “Steve’s goal has always been to keep business local and support the community. That can be seen with Pelletier Ford now the third-ranked dealership in Maine, growing sales from 60 units per year in 2012 to 271 new Ford vehicles sold in 2013. Pelletier also purchased the local General Motors Corp. dealership after a devastating fire and rebuilt the facility and renamed it Valley Motors.
Also nominated this year were: The Acadian Restaurant, Inn of Acadia, Fiddlehead Focus, Burger Boy, Caldwell’s Auto LLC, RLW Management Company, Pancsofar’s Bridal Boutique, Gateway Hospitality LLC, Third Eye Global, Store on Sugar Shack Road, and Virtual Managed Solution LLC.
A panel of seven judges — one representing each of the sponsors and the supporting organizations and the 2013 Aroostook Entrepreneur winner David Harbison of Bison Pumps, selected the 2014 finalists.
“We are very pleased to participate and host this important event which celebrates Aroostook’s entrepreneurial spirit,” said NMCC President Tim Crowley. “It’s fitting that this occasion takes place on our campus where entrepreneurship is taught in our business program and students have the opportunity to explore the trades which lead to very successful professional lives. We’re proud that one of our graduates, Matt Bell, is a past Entrepreneur of the Year.”
The nominees, finalists and winner will be celebrated May 22 at NMCC’s Edmunds Conference Center. The Aroostook Entrepreneur of the Year dinner will feature local produce, products and highlight the cultural diversity of the region. There will also be a vegetarian option. Prior to the meal and program, a social hour with hors d’oeuvres and drinks will be held starting at 5:30 p.m. The price per person is $35. Pre-registration is required by 4 p.m. May 16. To register, call Judy Dinsmore at NMDC, 498-8736 or by email email@example.com.