Coulombe Real Estate celebrates 40 years

BERLIN – Lee J. Coulombe had already enjoyed a varied career when in 1973 he opened one of the city's first real estate firms. Marking its 40th anniversary this year, Coulombe Real Estate still operates by the principles and values Coulombe installed before his death in 2009. It remains very much a family operation. Coulombe's widow, Dawn Coulombe, still works there and Russell Ramsey, who heads up the firm and is the principal broker, is a cousin of Coulombe.
Lee Coulombe was an Air Force veteran and had owned and operated a photography studio, a bank, and the first Dunkin Donuts in Coos County. He had also worked as a correspondent and photographer for
both major wire services and for a while owned his own newspaper. Ramsey said Coulombe decided to go into the real estate business after buying a couple of apartment buildings. At that time, getting a real estate license involved traveling to the University of New Hampshire in Durham to take the necessary courses.
Coulombe started the Berlin Travel Bureau with Paul Lessard. His wife Dawn initially served as secretary but within a few years, she also became a licensed agent.
"Lee loved a challenge," said associate broker Roland Turgeon, who has been with the firm for 29 years.
Dawn Coulombe said the early years building the business were fun with fewer rules and regulations and less red tape. For example, a purchase and sales agreement was a one-page document compared to the five pages
required today. Turgeon said most of the business then was local buyers dealing with local financing.
In the 1980s, recognizing a need for new homes, Coulombe teamed with Dave Lauze to create Grand View Meadows housing development on Cates Hill. The high-end housing complex is still some of the city's most desirable real estate.
It would be about 20 years before the city saw another major housing development. Coulombe Real Estate is the selling agent for Riverside Heights – the new energy efficient manufactured home park on Riverside Drive.
The firm's single largest project was working with Rite Aid Corporation in 1997 to acquire the block of six downtown buildings that the chain planned to turn into a new drugstore.
Coulombe Real Estate has also worked with a number of other businesses including Bond Auto, Walmart, Top Furniture, and Gorham Subway.
But while the big commissions are appreciated, the agents say the best part of the job is the relationships they develop with the customers and the satisfaction of helping someone achieve their dream.
"When you find something a buyer gets really excited about that's the fun part," Ramsey said.
Turgeon said it is hard to describe the feeling of helping an 87-year old man buy his first home after decades living in a mobile home.
The members of the firm say they strive to carry on the sense of community and caring that Lee Coulombe brought to the business. Randy Stiles said Coulombe purchased stacks and stacks of cards and
any occasion, from the death of a loved one to an anniversary, would bring a handwritten card from him. Agent Don Lapointe said even on vacation, Coulombe would check in regularly with the home office.
Dawn Coulombe said her husband loved when kids would stop at the firm selling items. She said he would always make a point of sitting down and talking to the kid and then making a purchase.
Debra Davis, the newest member of the firm, said she decided to join three years ago because of the family atmosphere that exists.
"Everybody just works together so nicely," she said.
Ramsey said he remains optimistic about the future of the region and the firm. He said there are new people moving to the area with the opening of the federal prison. The Gorham Paper and Tissue mill has added a new tissue machine and the biomass plant will be operating this fall. And at three percent, interest rates are at an all-time
low, making it an attractive market for buyers.
Ramsay said he is also looking to expand his staff, seeking to recruit people interested in being self-employed and working a flexible schedule.
To commemorate Coulombe Real Estate's 40 years in business, the company is making donations to 40 local non-profit organizations. The firm is also hosting a Business After Hours from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. today.

RE/MAX Northern Edge Realty is #1 in 2012

BERLIN – The Team at RE/MAX Northern Edge Realty were involved in 72 of the 104 single family homes sold in Berlin in 2012, based on information from the Northern New England Real Estate Network. Inc. for the period Jan. 1 through Dec. 31, 2012. RE/MAX Northern Edge Realty was also #1 Total Sold Volume, #1 in Total Listed Volume, #1 in Total Listed and Sold Volume, #1 in Grand Total Volume with $10,248,500 and #1 in Market Share in Berlin for the year 2012, based on information from the Northern New England Real Estate Network. Inc. for the period Jan. 1 through Dec. 31, 2012
RE/MAX Northern Edge Realty is affiliated with RE/MAX of New England and RE/MAX International.  Since its inception in 1985, RE/MAX of New England has grown to over 220 offices and nearly 3,000 sales associates throughout Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island and Vermont, providing residential and commercial real estate. Read more about the industry at the RE/MAX of New England blog at  and follow us on Twitter at @REMAXNE. RE/MAX is proud to help raise millions of dollars and support charitable organizations like, Susan G. Komen For the Cure and Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals.


Gorham Development plans regional tourism brochure

Gorham Development plans regional tourism brochure
by Gail Scott
GORHAM—With a grant from the Tillotson Foundation and sponsor and advertiser revenue totaling $10,750 in matchable funds, the Gorham Development Committee is moving ahead in the preparation of an area-wide tourism brochure.
The committee met earlier this month at the Gorham Public Library and considered a letter that was expected to be sent to area businesses immediately, describing the brochure.
The goal for the brochure is to have a free listing for all businesses in Gorham, Berlin, Jefferson, Randolph, Shelburne, Dummer and Milan and to offer expanded listings for $35, plus ads for those businesses that would like an even greater exposure in the brochure.
The brochure will be distributed in potential markets for the hospitality options and many attractions offered in this area. It will feature the region as a lively destination for families and those who love the kinds of pristine outdoor opportunities that exist in the North Country.
The cover and sections inside the brochure will depict those varied opportunities. The committee came up with a long list of pictures it will seek in the next few weeks as it prepares the design of the brochure. Among other things mentioned at the meeting that could be featured on the cover and inside in photo images were skiing, ATVing, snowmobiling, river rafting, sled dog driving, family camping, hiking, canoeing/kayaking, Shelburne's Old Man of the Valley, snowshoeing, cross country skiing, moose touring, natural sights such as Glen Ellis Falls, swimming (at the spring-fed LIbby pool), bicycling, small town events such as Gorham's Fourth of July and Milan's Old Home Days, Berlin's farmers market, antique and boutique shops, fishing, eagle sighting, Gorham's train exhibit, the Gorham Common playground/tennis/basketball courts, summer band concerts, Gorham's town hall theater, Six Gun City and Santa's Village.
The committee continues to look for suggestions and for pictures. Photos should be sent to Debbie Ryan at the Moriah Design Agency (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.) or committee co-chair Max Makaitis at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..
According to materials available at the meeting, ads in the brochure are expected to be priced as follows: $160 for an eighth of a page (1.8 inches wide by 1.91 inches deep), $290 for a fourth page ad (3.35 inches wide by 3.2 inches deep), a half panel ad for $525 (3.35 wide by 4 inches deep), a full panel ad at $945 (3.35 inches wide and 8 inches deep), or the inside back cover at $1580 (eight by nine inch trim size). Moriah Design can prepare an ad set-up at a flat rate of $75.
Feb. 1 is the expected deadline for reservation, payment and ad material.
Makaitis can also be reached at 781-367-4449. Committee co-chair

Kuster tours Gorham Paper and Tissue

 Kuster tours Gorham Paper and Tissue
by Gail Scott
GORHAM—Newly sworn in Rep. Ann McLane Kuster (D-NH), Congresswoman for NH's second district, toured Gorham Paper and Tissue recently and promised to continue to encourage economic development in the North Country, inasmuch as it is possible.
She has been assigned to the Agriculture and Veterans Affairs Committees in the U.S. House where she said she anticipates she will be able to favorably influence the working partnership between private interests and government in the slowly recovering economy.
The Agriculture Committee is concerned with the U.S. Department of Agriculture and its USDA economic grants. The Department is also concerned with forest lands, wood products, bio energy and bio mass development, she said. That was the reason she chose those assignments.
"I am focused on economic development in the North Country," she said.
She hopes to work to "get a fair share of grant funding and incentive dollars from the federal government to the state," she said. "This is part of the interface with the private sector. It's a collaborative effort between the private sector and the federal government."
She is also concerned that young people and veterans learn the skills they need to find work.
"So many times today people say they want to work, they want the opportunity, and then they will work hard," she said. "That's a role (the Congressional delegation) can play—to help bring opportunity here. . . . This is our future."
The concept was reiterated in her conversation with Gorham Paper and Tissue General Manager Willis Blevins who noted that the state—particularly former DRED Commissioner George Bald and Governor John Lynch—had been helpful when Patriarch Partners LLC acquired the former Fraser Papers from Counsel R.B. Capital which acquired the company after Fraser closed it down.
Thus far, Blevins said, the rejuvenated mill had been able to hire 213 workers, mostly people who had worked in the mills before.
Still, there is a huge gap between jobs and those who want to work, he noted. Recently he had 325 applications for 16 advertised jobs, he said.
Emphasizing her longtime connection with the North Country, Kuster said she would be available to make a difference.
"Anything we can do to help with development—if you have difficulties with the federal government—I want to be helpful to you," she said.
In the tour, Kuster met many of the workers and heard their stories .... years in the mill or years at Isaacson Structural Steel or other local companies that have gone out of business. All were impressive but especially the story of Joey Riendeau. Riendeau had been a mill worker, but when the mill closed and he lost his job, he took computer classes via the internet and is now the IT expert at GTP, he told Kuster.