It takes a village to raise a business

BY Peter Van Allen


American Roots is one of several businesses Mainebiz honored recently at our Next event.

There was co-owner Benjamin Waxman with his wife and business partner, Whitney Reynolds, and their young son — all standing before a crowd of a couple hundred people gathered at O'Maine Studios in Portland. Whitney was sick and didn't feel she could attend, but there she was. In accepting the award, Ben made his point to thank the many people who have been instrumental in American Roots' success, including the apparel company's immigrant workforce, his wife and his mom.

Next honorees thanked employees and their lawyers, bankers and accountants — each as important as the next. But it was the friends and family members that came out that really showed the depth of support. Developer Jim Brady brought his in-laws. Front Street Shipyard's JB Turner had his dad and brother, who had driven up from Connecticut. Jen Fullmer of Boots2Roots drove her dad to the event, also from Connecticut. The four Buck Brothers gathered an entourage of loved ones from Aroostook County and Portland. Jessica Masse and John Hafford of designlab brought friends with common Millinocket interests. Alas, Dan Kleban of Maine Beer Co. was not able to bring his brother, David, who was also being honored but had another commitment. But at least he's with him every day at work.

In Maine, where so many people are related by blood, hometown, school, volunteer work, town committees, boards or summer camp, it should be acknowledged that we all have a hand in the fortunes of businesses large and small. You could say the definition of family business may be broader here in our state, but it's also farther reaching.