Sweet Mamas Bakery thriving

BERLIN – Just a year ago, a mother and daughter team launched Sweet Mama's Bakery on 751 Main Street after developing a following for their baked goods at the Farmers
Pam Jesseman and Heather Marquis say it has been challenging at times but the pair is pleased at the success and growth of their business.
They have found a steady and loyal stream of customers for their delectable and luscious baked goods, which include whoopie pies, snowballs, cookies, cakes, bread, cupcakes, Danish, tarts, and seasonal treats such as meat pies and hot cross buns.
Then there is a whole line of canned goods such as fiddleheads, cucumbers, pickles, dilly green beans, smoked pickled eggs, relishes, and jellies.
All of the baked and canned goods sold at Sweet Mamas share one thing in common.
"Our stuff is all homemade," said Jesseman.
Two years ago both Jesseman and her daughter were correctional officers at Northern New Hampshire Correctional Facility. Marquis was also enrolled in the culinary arts baking program at White Mountains Community College. As part of her course she was required to do a 400-hour internship. Working full-time 3 to 11, Marquis said she knew a traditional internship would be impossible. Her college advisor agreed she could fulfill the requirement by setting up a booth and selling baked goods weekly at the Farmers Market.
Marquis said she already knew she wanted to start her own baking business.
She turned to her mother to partner with her in the venture. Jesseman liked to cook at home and had taken some classes at the King Arthur including a four-day class on bread making.
"She talked me into it," Jesseman said. "I liked taking the classes but it's not like I wanted a business."
The pair worked out of Marquis's kitchen, which she had got inspected and certified. The two would cook for two days, sometimes working though the night, to generate enough products for the market. Both were still working full-time at the state prison although Jesseman used some time she had accommodated. The two also credit the support and help of their husbands.
Jesseman recalled their first market was a flop because they didn't have the right produce mix and people did not know them. But they learned and word got around about the two women and their baked goods. By the end of the summer, they were a hit. People were stopping Marquis on the street and at work to ask about placing orders.
"We were doing extremely well," Jesseman said.
Encouraged by Laura Jamison, coordinator of the market and local WREN employee, the two began looking for a location to establish a full-time business. Driving by one day, Marquis noticed the empty storefront at 751 Main Street.
"We liked the location," said Jesseman.
There was a lot of space and the owner was willing to allow them to extensively renovate and install a commercial kitchen. With the help of their husbands and friends, the women did most of the work themselves, avoiding the need to get bank financing.
The city allowed the two a four-day permit to catch the Valentine Day business but the business opened formally in March 2012. Right after the opening, Jesseman quit her job at the state prison to focus on the bakery full-time. Marquis still works at the prison, working at the bakery before and after her shift at the prison and on her days off.
The bakery is open from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturdays.
The two women report Sweet Mamas is famous for its snowballs and whoopie pies. The shop serves eight varieties of whoopee pies ranging from the traditional chocolate with crème filling to pumpkin, carrot and cream cheese filling, maple flavored with syrup from Bisson's sugar house, an orange blossom special and even a breakfast whoopie pie made with an oatmeal cake, maple filling and bacon.
Then there are snowballs – a local favorite sweet treat. Sweet Mamas makes the traditional snowball rolled in coconut. But they also offer a muddy ball, which is rolled in crushed Oreos and has proven popular with customers.
The bakery offers nine types of homemade bread – white, wheat, harvest grain, oatmeal, English muffin, cinnamon swirl, cinnamon raisin swirl, jalapeño cheddar, and bacon cheddar.
Peanut butter and chocolate chip cookies are always in stock and the bakery makes a variety of other cookies as well. One specialty is a breakfast cookie, which is an oatmeal peanut butter cookie with apple, carrot, coconut, and raisins mixed in to provide energy for the day ahead.
There are seasonal items like meat and holiday pies, hot cross buns, dipped strawberries, cannolies, and white chocolate fruit tarts. The bakery also does special orders including cakes for all occasions and dessert tables.
Jesseman specializes in canning and the list of items for sale is long – dilly corn, green beans, carrots, asparagus, fiddleheads, cucumbers, eggs, hot picked sausage, and dilled garlic as well as jellies, relishes, and piccalilli.
"If it can be canned, I do it basically," she said.
The bakery even makes homemade dog treats for the four-legged members of the family.
A new addition to the menu is coffee by the cup and Jesseman said the pair plan to expand their breakfast offerings as well.
The bakery has the distinction of being the first vendor to take advantage of the Farmers Market to test the market for their products and develop a customer base to allow them to successfully open up a year-around business. Despite the fact they now have a thriving business on Main Street, the two say they will continue to participate in the Farmers Market again this summer.

More than wheels form promotional partnership

CONCORD, NH – Sanel Auto Parts, Co. President David T. Segal announced this morning a promotional partnership the company has formed with the Manchester-based More Than Wheels.
The partnership capitalizes on advertising and a contest being sponsored by Sanel Auto Parts that will raise awareness about the innovative programs offered through More Than Wheels, a non-profit organization.

“Sanel Auto Parts is a family-owned company that for generations has made a commitment to giving back,” stated Segal. “We don’t talk about ourselves very much, because we believe that what we give back speaks volumes about what kind of company Sanel Auto Parts is. But in this case, we’re talking about our support for More Than Wheels because too many people who need this organization’s help don’t know about it.”

More Than Wheels is an award-winning, not-for-profit that helps consumers with damaged credit secure the best deal on a reliable, fuel-efficient car. The organization has supported thousands of New England residents since being formed in 2001. It helps people get reliable, affordable transportation by providing access to very low interest rates for their vehicle loans. The organization stipulates that clients complete educational opportunities to help them increase their financial skills as part of the process in securing loans.

“Sanel Auto Parts and More Than Wheels share many of the same values, and joining the ‘Sanel Family,’ a company with tremendous integrity, and such a ‘Can-Do’ spirit is very exciting for our entire organization,” said Terri Steingrebe, CEO of More Than Wheels.  “They have a strong commitment to both innovation and the communities they work in.  By promoting More Than Wheels over the coming year as part of their advertising campaign they will help us increase awareness around the state for our services.”

Sanel Auto Parts, a family-owned business for the past 93 years, is a leading automotive parts supplier in northern New England with retail locations in New Hampshire, Vermont and Maine. The company has a long established history of support for communities and non-profit organizations in these three states. The company’s headquarters are in Concord.

More information about Sanel is located on the company’s website at www.sanelautoparts.net. More than Wheels information is available at www.morethanwheels.org.


Northway Bank names William Zafirson to executive management team

BERLIN – Northway Bank, the largest independent commercial bank in New Hampshire, has named William Zafirson senior vice-president in charge of both retail lending and marketing.
A Maine native, Zafirson has two decades of banking experience in the Northeast. He’s a specialist in Lean Six Sigma, a business methodology that aims to implement best practices for quality and process improvement.
Before joining Northway, Zafirson spent much of his career with TD Bank in various process improvement and mortgage lending roles. He previously led all mortgage sales activities for TD Banknorth, a predecessor organization, covering the region from the Canadian border to Philadelphia. His background also includes two years with The Bank of Maine as managing director of mortgage banking.
At Northway Bank, Zafirson is responsible for all retail lending, including residential mortgages and consumer loans. He also oversees the bank’s marketing department.
“Consumer loans and mortgages go to the heart of what community banking is all about,” says Northway CEO Bill Woodward. “Bill Zafirson knows what it takes to keep improving the customer experience surrounding those products.”
“Northway offers the resources of a big regional bank and the local perspective of a community bank,” Zafirson says. “That’s an ideal combination for a bank that wants to continually get better from a customer service standpoint.”
A professional auctioneer, Zafirson volunteers his services for fund-raising events hosted by various non-profits, including Sweetser, the Center for Grieving Children, the Reach School and the Ronald McDonald House in Portland. He is also a board member and past chair of Sweetser, the oldest child welfare and behavioral health organization in Maine.

Porky Gulch is Ready for Adventure

Porky Gulch is Ready for Adventure

Porky Gulch in Gorham is re-opening for its second year in collaboration with North Woods Rafting of Milan under the umbrella of Wicked Good Outfitters.
The Great North Woods adventure location starts at Porky Gulch Bike Shop by offering bicycles, accessories, repairs and rentals. Locals and tourists can rent bikes, join group trips or get bike tune ups and check out the latest swag for the pedal adventurer. Porky Gulch is a full service local bike shop where you can also rent canoes and kayaks and connect with the North Woods Rafting Company for reservations and information. Opening weekend was April 6 with the shop open Fridays and Saturdays from 10 a.m. until 6 p.m. and Sundays from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Once the season is in full-swing (mid-June through September), Porky Gulch will gradually add hours to eventually be open seven days a week from 10 a.m. until 6 p.m.

This year's biking experiences at Porky Gulch will be shared by Jonathon Dodge who has a passion for all biking styles – serious, leisure, children, adults, roadies, mountain bikers, cruisers, freestyle, single-speed or geared. Coos County locals might remember Jonathon from his many years running the Balsams bike shop and cross country ski area or from his time at the Littleton Bike Shop. “I want to promote a quality biking experience for those who are here in Coos County,” says Dodge. Jonathan Dodge will spend his time between Porky Gulch and The Spoke ‘n’ Word Bike Shop in Colebrook where he is an owner.
The weather is warming and folks are out riding again. As May is National Bike Month, consider this:
Comfort Bike Boom - Is your bike uncomfortable? It shouldn't be! The bike industry has made great strides in making bikes even more comfortable. Let Porky Gulch Bike Shop show you the secrets of comfortable riding (fully automatic gears, suspended seats, cushy saddles).
Bike Safety - Warmer weather means more cyclists will be on the road.  Porky Gulch can show you how to ride safely and drive safely with bicyclists on the road this season. Including tips for those interested in Bike to Work Day or commuting in warmer weather.
Cool Bike Accessories That Make a Difference – Recreational riders are discovering small accessories can make big improvements. Items like gloves, helmets, lights, and monitors all add a new dimension of comfort, fun and functionality.
Porky Gulch and Wicked Good Outfitters owners, Lincoln Robertson and Heather Piche have focused on the business North Woods Rafting and saw the bike shop as a natural extension of the outfitter's brand.
“We were originally Wicked Good when we started in 2002. Although we continued to offer “wicked good” paddling trips, we built our reputation on the name North Woods Rafting. The addition of Porky Gulch Bike Shop allowed us to better meet our customers' full-service adventure needs and we decided to get back to our roots with the original name of Wicked Good,” they said.
The re-branding effort is a way to connect the Porky Gulch Bike Shop with the NH Grand Adventure of North Woods Rafting. The new brand design of ‘Wicked Good Outfitters – Paddle. Pedal. Play.’
seeks to promote the idea that the North Country is the adventure playground of New Hampshire. Wicked Good Outfitters will offer friendly, expert bicycle and paddling advice but will also connect adventurers to white water rafting trips, kayak, paddle-board, shuttling and canoe and bicycle rentals.

North Woods Rafting in Milan and Berlin has been providing white water rafting trips to the young, old, brave and timid since 2002! No matter what your adventure, they’ve got what you’re looking for! Check them out on Facebook and at www.PorkyGulch.com, www.NorthWoodsRafting.com or www.WickedGoodOutfitters.com.