State, national officials tour Enterprise Center

May 27th, 2014 by Lynn

    BOB MARTIN/CITIZEN PLYMOUTH STATE University President Sara Jayne Steen sits alongside Matt Erskine, the deputy assistant secretary for Economic Development for the U.S. Economic Development Administration, prior to a tour of the Enteprise Center in Plymouth on Tuesday.

    PLYMOUTH — The Enterprise Center at Plymouth has continuously expanded since its grand opening in October, and on Tuesday afternoon, Matt Erskine, deputy assistant secretary for Economic Development for the U.S. Economic Development Administration, toured the facility and said he was very impressed.

    “It’s beautiful and it shows great vision of this community,” Erskine said following a tour of the Enterprise Center with various state and local dignitaries, as well as business executives. “Incubators and accelerators are great EDA investments. Obviously, there is a lot of buy-in from the community, and a focus on the entrepreneurial economy and small business, and really focusing on the assets and strengths of this region. Also, of course, the partnership with the university is absolutely key.”

    Erskine said that for incubators he has seen, the utilization of a university like PSU is a major success factor. This, he said, is because it provides a pipeline of talent and also the research and knowledge of the university.

    Enterprise Center’s real estate is owned by the Grafton County Economic Development Council and PSU provides programming, staffing, mentors and counseling, according to GCEDC Chief Executive Officer Mark Scarano. Since 2002, PSU and Plymouth area organizations have collaborated on the creation of the center, which opened in October 2013. The incubator assists businesses with occupying leased space, and also provides services to entrepreneurs and business owners throughout the central part of the state.

    Preceding the tour, Erskine met in a conference room with PSU President Sara Jayne Steen and other university representatives, District 1 Executive Councilor Joe Kenney, Grafton County Commissioners Mike Cryans and Linda Lauer, Plymouth Selectman William Bolton, Bristol Town Administrator Michael Capone, and more.

    Scarano explained that university-led economic development and incubators is something that the GCEDC feels strongly about, as there is a relationship with Dartmouth College for an incubator in the western part of Grafton County, as well. He said that he has been exceptionally pleased with the level of dedication that PSU has shown with the Enterprise Center, and said it could not have happened without them.

    “As you see we have a great new facility as an incubator and accelerator, and we really are an anchor for central New Hampshire and already thinking about what comes next,” Steen said. “The incubator was fully occupied with the space we had available at the time we opened, and people have been doing fabulous work.”

    The tour was led throughout the three-story structure, which is conveniently located on the corner of Bridge Street, which overlooks the Pemigewassett River and the PSU campus. Erskine and the rest of the tour made its way into the office of Narrative1, which, on Oct. 1, became the first business to move into the building. Erskine spoke with Chief Executive Officer Tom Armstrong and Chief Operating Officer Tim Corbitt, who explained that they have been developing real estate appraisal software for the commercial user. Corbitt explained that they currently have 2,500 clients and are growing rapidly.

    Corbitt and Armstrong agreed that it has been a major benefit having the university right next door, and the ability to bring in competent interns. Some, Armstrong said, have been signed into full-time positions, and the staff continues to grow. There are currently 18 interns along with 12 full-time staff members. Corbitt expects the number of employees to double over the next two years.

    “Where we are now is really an exciting place,” Corbitt explained. “We got to where we are now without debt, outside equity, and we have a number of partnerships that are coming to fruition. So we expect this company to grow appreciatively, even over the next year, but the five-year horizon looks really exciting for us.”

    Armstrong said that without the Enterprise Center, they may have had to build a new location and compromised positions, rather than adding them.

    “What we have here is really ideal space,” Armstrong said. “We’ve got meeting space, a great building that makes a good presentation when partners come visit with us. We’ve got the college resources. This was really strategic for us.”

    The second and third floors are still being completed, but there has been considerable interest in some of the smaller office spaces on the third floor. The third floor is considered “flex space,” according to the ECP Executive Director Michael Tentnowski, and will have small offices meant for businesses getting their start.

    A second floor office will be completed in the next month, and ready for Rich Dion’s company, Global Tech Research, to move in on July 1.

    Global Tech Research is a federal contractor, and the latest contract they have is with the FBI. They work with analytical research for classified materials. He said that PSU has a new criminal justice program, and he plans to partner with the university with a focus on law enforcement in the North Country. Dion said that this will help in areas where they generally fall behind.

    Cryans has toured the facility a number of times, and felt that it was very promising to see the expansion of the second floor and the news about the completion of the third floor. Lauer, who was elected to replace Ray Burton as the Grafton County Commissioner this year, took her first tour of the facility and was thoroughly impressed.

    “For a small startup company to move into spaces like this, in proximity to the assets the university has, can make such a difference to a startup,” Lauer said. “It gives them the chance to get the company started, get their feet on the ground.”

     

     

    Start and grow your small business

    January 29th, 2014 by Michael

      Local Rotary Round-Up

      December 18th, 2013 by Lynn

        photo by sylvie weber

        Michael Tentnowski, business instructor and executive director of the Enterprise Center at Plymouth State University, recently updated the Littleton Rotary Club on the center’s mission to create new businesses and jobs. A partnership between the university and the Grafton County Economi Development Council, the center acts as a business incubator, helping entrepreneurs turn their ideas into successful ventures. Pictured with Tentnowski, right, are Rotarians Redmond Thayer, Shannon McKee.

         

        Enterprise Center at Plymouth celebrates Grand Opening

        October 24th, 2013 by Lynn

          PSU President Sara Jayne Steen

          PLYMOUTH — If the early success of the Enterprise Center at Plymouth (ECP) is any indication, the business incubator and accelerator has a very bright future.

          The ECP, located at One Bridge St., is at full capacity just three weeks after opening its doors, with five fledgling businesses setting up shop in the state-of-the-art facility. The ECP’s Oct. 15 grand opening ceremony at Plymouth State drew more than 100 people to celebrate the goal of job creation and economic development in central New Hampshire.

          Gov. Maggie Hassan, PSU President Sara Jayne Steen, and Dinah Adkins, President Emerita of the National Business Incubator Association and expert on rural economic development, addressed guests during the ceremony in the lobby of the Silver Center for the Arts at Plymouth State University.

          Hassan said the ECP provides a great platform to grow the businesses of the future.

          Gov. Maggie Hassan

          “New Hampshire stands at the threshold of a bright new future, as well positioned as any state to lead the country in innovative economic growth that will define the 21st Century,” Hassan said. “The Enterprise Center at Plymouth will play an integral role in seizing this opportunity, supporting entrepreneurs, small business owners and economic development throughout central New Hampshire.”

          PSU President Sara Jayne Steen noted the ECP is an excellent example of how the University plays a key role in serving the region.

          “Part of PSU’s mission as a regional comprehensive university is to use our intellectual resources to make our region stronger,” Steen said. “Today’s celebration is about how people can come together – public, private, higher education and community — to make something important become a reality for New Hampshire. If higher education and its partners have strong relationships, the region should be strong.”

          Rural economic development expert Dinah Adkins

          “Thanks to all of you who are committed to making this project successful,” said Adkins, who stated the number of business incubators to encourage entrepreneurship has grown a hundred fold throughout the United States in the past 30 years. “My advice to you is to go for world class. I firmly believe what you accomplish in life relates directly to how big the dream is.”

          ECP Director Michael Tentnowski announced the businesses located in the ECP are Narrative One Software, TotalScope Marketing, Mabbs Robinson, Keene Systems as well as the Plymouth Regional Chamber of Commerce.

          “This new facility is going to serve as an incubator accelerator which will serve the region so that we can start to create an eco-system of entrepreneurship in the area,” Tentnowski said.

          Essentially, the ECP provides a “one stop shop” for businesses throughout the region seeking advice and counseling, services, leased space, mentoring, and networking. The GCEDC is providing the physical location and building, using $2 million in federal, state and corporate funding; PSU is providing staffing, campus-wide business services and intellectual capital. The building was designed by Alba Architects of Woodstock and Moultonborough.

          Unique features of the ECP include a sales skills development office, video production room and space dedicated to professional focus group services. The ECP will also act as a headquarters for an enhanced business outreach effort in central New Hampshire by PSU faculty, staff and students.

          Colebrook Hospital, Grafton incubator receive grants

          October 17th, 2013 by Lynn

            CONCORD — The Upper Connecticut Valley Hospital in Colebrook and the Grafton County Economic Development Council in Plymouth will receive grants totaling nearly $350,000 from the Northern Border Regional Commission.

            New Hampshire’s northernmost hospital will use its $200,000 grant toward replacing its aging cardiac monitoring system, which can no longer be serviced with replacement parts. UCVH will match the grant to cover the $372,000 replacement cost.

            The Grafton County Economic Development Council, which is receiving $145,000, will use the funding to complete construction of its Enterprise Center at Plymouth, being developed in conjunction with Plymouth State University. The total cost of the project is $290,000.

            The Northern Border Regional Commission was created as a federal-state partnership approved in the 2008 Farm Bill.

            It addresses economic and community development needs in distressed communities in the Northern Forest region, which includes New Hampshire, Maine, Vermont and New York.

             

            Enterprise Center at Plymouth officially opened

            October 16th, 2013 by Lynn

              GOV. MAGGIE HASSAN, members of the Plymouth community and its surrounding towns celebrated the grand opening of the Enterprise Center at Plymouth Tuesday night. The center is located at 1 Bridge St. in Plymouth and currently houses six area businesses. BOB MARTIN/CITIZEN

              PLYMOUTH — Members of the Plymouth community, as well as various government officials including Gov. Maggie Hassan, gathered last night at the Silver Center for the Arts to celebrate the grand opening of the Enterprise Center at Plymouth.

              The ECP, located at 1 Bridge St., is a business incubator and accelerator with a goal of supporting entrepreneurship, small businesses and economic development throughout central New Hampshire. The center is a partnership between the Grafton County Economic Development Council and Plymouth State University, and those involved are very excited about what it could bring to the community.

              “New Hampshire stands at the threshold of a brightened future, as well positioned as any state to lead to the country in the innovative economic growth that will lift all of our people and will define the 21st century,” said Hassan. “The Enterprise Center at Plymouth will play an integral role in seizing this opportunity, supporting entrepreneurs, small business owners and economic development throughout central New Hampshire.”

              The GCEDC is providing the physical location and building, and uses $2 million in federal, state and corporate funding. PSU provides the incubator staffing, business services and intellectual capital through its College of Business Administration.

              Since 2002, PSU and organizations around the area have collaborated on the creation of the center, including GCEDC, NH Electric Co-op, White Mountains Gateway Economic Development, and the Plymouth Region Chamber of commerce. The groups funded a feasibility study and business plan that put this incubator project in motion, and by 2010, PSU and GCEDC agreed on creating the center.

              “Business incubators across the state have helped numerous entrepreneurs get their businesses off the ground, providing needed early funding and infrastructure, but most importantly offering basic support and advice to guide new businesses through the treacherous early stages,” Hassan said.

              There are currently six entities housed in the three-story, 9,000-squarefoot building, and Michael Tentnowski, ECP’s executive director, said that there is the potential that it could house between 12 and 15 businesses, depending on the size, once proper funding is received to complete various unfinished areas of the facility. The six entities — Narrative 1, Plymouth Area Chamber of Commerce, Total Scope Marketing, Mabbs Robinson Consultancy, Keene Systems and J. Edgar Group — completely occupy the current available space.

              “Although it is just now announced that the center is open for business, it is impressive that you are doing so with 100 percent of your space already leased,” said Hassan.

              Tentnowski said that it is a great location that will provide flexible office space for many amenities. The ECP will provide a location for businesses throughout the region seeking advice and counseling, services, leased space, mentoring and networking.

              “It will provide a onestop shop for entrepreneurial activities throughout the region,” said Tentnowski.

              The ECP will also include a sales skills development video production room and space dedicated to professional focus group services, as well as acting as a headquarters for an enhanced business outreach effort by PSU staff and graduate students.

              On Oct. 1, Narrative 1 became the first business to move into the building. The company is owned by Tom Armstrong and is currently staffed by 11 employees and four independent contractors. Tentnowski said that the plan is for the amount of employees to double over the next three years.

              Narrative 1 is a company originally based in Holderness in a small office next to the public library. Armstrong said that the new location will provide the company with a high-speed internet connection and a level of professionalism that they can display to businesses and government agencies with which they do business.

              The company originally began as a hobby in 1997 and has worked its way to becoming a company that develops software for commercial property appraisal. The software created by Narrative 1 is used by assessors, banks and licensed appraisers all around the country, as well as internationally in countries like Japan and Singapore.

              Armstrong said that a major benefit of being in the ECP is attracting good people to work with, including three interns from PSU. He said that utilizing the university is a major advantage, and they have had great success working with faculty who have coached them on business strategy.

              There is also “flexible space” for organizations such as SCORE, the Small Business Development Center, and the Department of Resources and Economic Development. He said that there will be numerous internship opportunities and opportunities for graduate students.

              PSU President Sara Jayne Steen said that part of PSU’s mission is to use intellectual resources to make the region stronger. This center, she said, will do just that.

              “Part of what the national research tells us is that partnerships between public higher education and economic development are key to the nation’s economic future or to a region, and if higher education has strong partners, the region should be strong,” said Steen.

              Mark Scarano, GCEDC’s CEO, said that the new center will be a great asset for the businesses involved, saying that it will provide prime conference space and access to PSU services.

              “Business incubation is a solid and tried economic strategy that encourages growth of companies to create jobs and wealth in central New Hampshire,” said Scarano.

              Guest speaker Dinah Adkins, who is a pioneer in the creation of incubators during her time as chief staff executive of the National Business Incubation Association as well as well as a founder of the Ohio University Innovation Center in 1982, was pleased to hear about the creation of the project after about 10 years of planning.

              “Those things that are best sometimes have to have a long gestation period and I am really excited to be here for the work of this incubator,” Adkins said. “I know that it is going to take the work of the entire community, of all of you, to make sure this project is a success.”

              For more information log onto enterprisecenternh.com.

              Enterprise Center at Plymouth welcomes Narrative 1

              October 3rd, 2013 by Lynn

                Business Incubator Grand Opening Oct. 15

                The Enterprise Center at Plymouth officially opens Oct. 15.

                 PLYMOUTH — From the minute Tom Armstrong stepped through the door of the Enterprise Center at Plymouth (ECP), he knew the prospects for his grow­ing business became a little brighter.

                Armstrong, a Plymouth State alumnus, owns Nar­rative 1, a Holderness-based commercial property ap­praisal software developer seeking to expand its mar­ket share nationally, and the ECP provides a conve­nient, fully-staffed work­space with access to Plym­outh State University’s award-winning business faculty and staff.

                “We’re very excited about the quality of the space, and the technology behind it; this is a facility we badly needed, but couldn’t find,” said Armstrong, who now employs a dozen people. “We sell our software to banks and government agencies and they will come and visit our office before engaging in a transaction with us; this space allows us to show them a professional business atmosphere.”

                ECP Executive Director Michael Tentnowski said Narrative 1 is a great exam­ple of how a business incu­bator should work.

                “Welcoming the first member into the building highlights the progress the facility is making in creat­ing jobs and economic op­portunity for entrepreneurs across the region,” Tent­nowski said.

                The ECP, located at 1 Bridge St., is a joint part­nership between Plymouth State University and the Grafton County Econom­ic Development Council (GCEDC), whose goal is to support entrepreneur­ship, small businesses, and economic development in central New Hampshire. Gov. Maggie Hassan, PSU President Sara Jayne Steen and Dinah Adkins, past President of the National Business Incubator Asso­ciation and expert on rural economic development, will address guests during the 5:30 p.m. Grand Open­ing ceremony in the lobby of the Silver Center for the Arts.

                The GCEDC is providing the physical location and building, using $2 million in federal, state and corpo­rate funding; PSU is pro­viding incubator staffing, business services and in­tellectual capital through the College of Business Ad­ministration. Essentially, the ECP provides a “one stop shopping” location for businesses throughout the region seeking advice and counseling, services, leased space, mentoring, and net­working.

                Unique features of the ECP include a sales skills development video production room and space dedicated to professional focus group services. Both of these are currently pro­vided by PSU’s College of Business Administration and are very popular with students and entrepreneurs alike. The ECP will also act as a headquarters for an en­hanced business outreach effort in central New Hamp­shire by PSU staff and grad­uate students.

                Enterprise Center of Plymouth to host marketing seminars

                September 14th, 2013 by Heather

                  Enterprise Center of Plymouth to host marketing seminars

                  PLYMOUTH — The Enterprise Center at Plymouth will offer a seminar next week on strategic marketing for local businesses.

                  Terri Dautcher, marketing maven and adjunct faculty member at Plymouth State University, will offer strategies about marketing at the Pease Public Library in Plymouth on Sept. 18 from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m., and at Lakes Region Community Services in Laconia on Sept. 30, from 4 to 6 p.m.

                  “Whether you’re running a one-person company or a multi-million dollar operation, strategic planning is an essential part of success,” said Dautcher. “There are some wonderful, simple tools and guidelines that can be used to facilitate and improve strategic marketing planning in any business.”

                  In these fast-paced, interactive seminars, Dautcher will share her insights and offer tips to help plan for business success.

                  Dautcher has been a member of PSU’s College of Business and Administration faculty since 2007 teaching marketing and professional development to both graduate and undergraduate classes. Her decades of corporate experience span various industries from trucking to nonprofit to psychic reading source.

                  Seating for this event is limited. Seats can be reserved by contacting the center office at 535-3222 or e-mailing: kim@enterprisecenternh.com. There is a charge to attend the seminar.

                  For one local family, the entrepreneurial spirit is a family tradition

                  September 5th, 2013 by Lynn

                    By Leigh Sharps
                    Contributor

                    Two generations of Richelsons. Front row: Bradley Richelson, Louis Richelson. Next row: Gary Richelson, Paul Richelson, Irwin Richelson, Julius Richelson, Evelyn Richelson, Florence Richelson, Selma Mehrman, Francine Carrus, Jeffrey Richelson, Jack Cochran, and Beverly Brennan.

                    PLYMOUTH—On a cold fall day last year, a ‘groundbreaking’ was held in front of the former Richelson’s Department Store building on the corner of North Main and Bridge Streets, the gateway to Plymouth.

                    It was a somewhat bittersweet affair, as the grassroots business, founded in Ashland, then moved to Plymouth, said farewell to its long history here.

                    The building has now been razed, and construction of a three-story new Business Center at Plymouth, collaboration between the Grafton County Economic Council (GCEDC) and PSU, will soon be completed is now well underway. The family was presented with the old structure’s date stone as a memento of Louis Richelson’s triumph as an immigrant from Minsk, Russia in 1901 and started a New England enterprise. The building was purchased by the state Department of Transportation back in 2003 to make way for the bridge and roundabout realignment and had sat empty until the Enterprise Center was conceived.

                    At the groundbreaking ceremony for the new Enterprise Center in Plymouth, GCEDC Executive Director Mark Scarano praised the Richelsons and their struggle to establish a business amidst hard times.

                    Scarano said, “Louis Richelson exemplified the best of the American dream in that he left his adopted country better off, than the one he inherited, when he first came to our country.”

                    “Through grit and determination, Louis Richelson was one of countless immigrants that made America the greatest country in the world,” he added. “We were fortunate that he decided to bring his indomitable entrepreneurial spirit to central New Hampshire. That spirit will live on with a new generation of entrepreneurs within the Enterprise Center at Plymouth.”

                    Grandson Paul Richelson said of the new venture, “It is a bittersweet feeling of seeing the last physical representation of the Richelson’s Department Store disappear; however, knowing that the entrepreneurial spirit that Louis Richelson started in 1929 will, in a way, live on in the new businesses on this same location.”

                    Grandson Jeff Richelson added, “It is a very appropriate tribute to the historic landmark business that was once a pillar in the community.”

                    The Richelsons’ story is one well worth relating, one to be remembered and is as old as the first European settlers coming to America.

                    Louis Richelson (1887-1972) emigrated from Minsk, Russia to escape the oppressive living conditions of the Russian Czar (emperor) at the age of 16, and settled in New York to become a tailor. Sometime after 1911, he met his wife, Freda Alterman (1898-1969).

                    Her family had also emigrated from Russia eight years after Louis and they settled in Brooklyn when she was just 13. She, also, was trained as a tailor, but in those days women were called seamstresses. In 1916 the two married and in 1917 their son, Julius, was born.

                    In 1921, son Irwin was born. The burgeoning family prompted Louis and Freda to seek a cleaner, safer environment for their children outside of the big city. The family moved to Ashland, as Freda’s brother, Kalman ‘Kelly’ Alterman, had previously opened, and then operated the popular Kelly’s Army and Navy Store in nearby Laconia.

                    Louis and Freda first established their business in 1922 on the first floor of a two-story house on Main Street in Ashland, with their living quarters on the second floor. In the early days, it was common for small business owners to live “over the store.” Louis went out daily with a horse and wagon, selling work clothes and boots to farmers and loggers at their homes and places of business. He spent long days traversing roads (mostly all dirt roads in those days) through towns such as Ashland, Plymouth, Rumney, Campton, Bristol and Meredith. While Louis went out peddling his wares, Freda operated the small retail store on the first floor.

                    The move to Plymouth

                    After several years of servicing the nearby towns, Louis, the entrepreneur, could foresee the much greater business potential of Plymouth. He knew the benefits of the town, which had one of Grafton County’s few courthouses, and he could see future business opportunities with the consistent growth and expansion of Plymouth Normal School, now known as Plymouth State University. Louis and Freda decided to open a second store in 1929 in Plymouth and purchased the 149 Main St. property. While starting the Plymouth business, Louis and Freda continued to live in the house over their Ashland shop. Their third child, Selma, was born in 1931.

                    Louis and Freda opened a third store in Franklin after one of Freda’s brothers moved from New York to the Plymouth area. The brother operated it for a couple of years before deciding that he was not happy living in rural New Hampshire, and they closed the store. Louis and Freda eventually moved their family in 1941 to 3 Wentworth St. in Plymouth, where they lived the rest of their lives.

                    In 1936, an attached horse shed at the rear of the Plymouth store burned down, and instead of replacing that rental part of the store building, Richelson decided to build a new store on the site from the ground up. Finished in 1937, during the Great Depression, the building was modest and expandable. It was first divided in two, and a restaurant occupied the ground floor and Richelson’s was in the south half of the structure. Richelson’s grandchildren recall the building was designed to accommodate a second story for the business’ future expansion, but it was later decided to convert the large basement into retail space instead. In 1940, Louis and Freda closed their Ashland store and consolidated the business into their Plymouth location.

                    After serving in WWII, Julius and Irwin returned and began to take over the business. Through the 1950’s, Richelson’s Department Store continued to service the clothing and footwear needs of men, women and children, each with their own departments. At that time, New Hampshire ski areas began developing and attracting out of state visitors to the growing sport. As entrepreneurs, the Richelsons saw another opportunity to expand their business by serving the growing needs of these customers. They initially focused on ski wear, such as Profile Parkas and eventually added hardware, including skis, boots, poles etc.

                    First full service northeast ski shop

                    In 1958, the brothers decided to convert the basement space into one of the first full-service ski shops in the Northeast. That business thrived through the ‘70’s and ‘80’s. In 1970, Richelson’s Ski Shop sold the first pair of Olin Skis, from the Olin Corporation, in the United States and sold to a local business man.

                    With the passing of Freda Richelson in 1969 and Louis Richelson in 1972, Julius and Irwin were determined to continue their parents’ entrepreneurial spirit. The first complete remodeling of the main store took place in the summer of 1970. The brothers recognized the importance of planning for the future and keeping up with the times, especially in a “hip” college town. The Richelsons hired a retail store specialist, Kohn Display from Hartford, Conn. to transform the stodgy prewar look to a then-current state of the art retail store. The result was remarkable and the response was immediate. The look and feel of the new store was quite sophisticated for its time, and yet maintained the casual convenience of a small town business. The two twin pre-war entrances were replaced by one center entrance, and large front windows were installed in the length of the building facing Main Street. Split-wood shingles were placed on the façade, along with a double-wide wood-framed entry door. Inside, old-fashioned tin ceilings were covered with dropped ceilings and the floor covered with “Mod” 1970’s plaid carpeting. Finally, fashion-forward “slat-wall” was installed along with brand new floor fixtures.

                    In 1974, Julius and Irwin purchased the Sargent Block, a multi-tenanted building built in 1878 on the corner of Main Street and River Street (just to the south of Richelson’s property). It was demolished in 1962-63 to become an Arco gas station. With a nod to Louis and Freda’s original grassroots business, they converted it to an annex devoted to traditional working clothes, boots, gloves, etc. In addition, the acquisition provided 25 onsite parking spaces. This additional parking became a major asset for the main store as well, as it encouraged customers to shop in an area of scarce on-street parking. The annex and parking lot were an immediate success and continued until the property was eventually taken by eminent domain by the state.

                    In the late 1970’s, the third generation of Richelsons, grandsons Paul and Jeff, joined the expanding business. Both had helped out in the ski shop while in high school. Paul learned to tune skis and helped custom fit wax injected boots. As he recalled, “After college, I found myself back in the store and together with my cousin thought we’d show our parents how to run the business!”

                    Jeff added with pride, “All our hard work paid off in the ski shop by being recognized in Ski Magazine as one of the top 10 boot fitters in North America.”

                    Learning from Julius and Irwin’s experience, Paul and Jeff recognized the opportunity to bring added value to their ski customers by offering additional services in the ski shop. Some of these services included ski binding tune-ups, custom ski waxing, sharpening ski edges and making custom orthotics. Orthotics, in particular, could facilitate boot fittings and increase the skier’s comfort level for a much more enjoyable outing. Grandson Paul continues this part of the business at his office on Tenney Mtn. Highway in West Plymouth.

                    Unfortunately, due to the great recession of the early 1990’s, Richelson’s closed its doors in the summer of 1992 after 70 years in business, including 63 years in Plymouth. Irwin leased out various spaces in the two buildings to entrepreneurial retail businesses, including Melnick’s Shoes, True Colors Print and Design, Winnipesaukee Baygulls and several others and maintained the properties until 2003.

                    The state Department of Transportation bought the buildings in the summer of 2003 for the reconstruction of the bridge over the Pemigewasset River, and a roundabout at the Main Street intersection with Bridge Street. The former work center store was taken down in fairly short order, and the main building had stood empty for years. A truck accident in 2009 forced the state to remove a third of the corner of the building further compromising the historical integrity of the structure.

                    Tradition continues

                    After having built a thriving business with ski boots, footwear and custom orthotics, Jeff and Paul went their separate ways when the store closed (1992) but they stayed in the area and built from their original client base. In late 1992, Jeff opened ‘Foot Focus’ in Plymouth and ‘The Boot Doctor’ in Lincoln. Both businesses closed within a few years when Jeff moved out of the area. In October of 1992, Paul opened ‘Richelson’s Feet First’ on the second floor of the Woodsville Guaranty Savings Bank (formerly Plymouth Travel). It is still in business and has grown to three locations with four to six employees over the years.

                    Paul recalled one of his fondest memories of the store: “At about age 10, I would organize thousands of hangers and boxes on Saturday mornings and after lunch I would proudly bring my 50 cent pay to the Plymouth Theater for a box of popcorn and a movie.”

                    Paul continued, “Louis always told us to serve the customers’ needs. My dad loved to tell the story of a young man who walked into the store one Saturday morning requesting a suit for a wedding. My dad struck up a conversation with the young man: ‘Who’s getting married?’ my dad asked. ‘I am, in a few hours’ was the young man’s reply. Well. Into high gear went my dad, and in a few hours’ time, this man had a new suit altered by our own seamstress with shoes and a tie my father even tied for him. Dad said he looked like a million bucks! And off he went to get married.”

                    Likewise, Jeff reminisced about his favorite memory: “Playing with all the PF Flyer Secret Decoder Rings left behind the counter by customers who purchased the sneakers!” Jeff brought to mind other ‘Louisisms’: “If the stock is not a mess you are not selling any. If you don’t take care of the customer someone else will. Always treat the customer fairly and with integrity and you will have a customer for life! And ‘Always provide value to your customer.’”

                    Thinking back on how Louis started the business, Paul said, “The hardships Louis went through to emigrate to the US from Minsk Russia and the strong work ethic that was passed down to his sons, and continuing to his grandchildren is an example of how a family business spanning three generations can have lasting effects not only in business relations but also in how families are raised.”

                    “It has instilled many business values that continue to be used daily,” concluded Jeff.

                    The Richelson family has expressed pride in the fact that Louis and Freda’s legacy of entrepreneurial spirit in Plymouth will continue to flourish with the new Enterprise Center at Plymouth. The new Center will serve the greater Plymouth/Central New Hampshire area, providing an opportunity to new and existing small businesses with leased space, mentoring, networking and other services crucial to the success of these businesses. Entrepreneurs have always been the backbone of American business success, and it doesn’t matter where in the world they come from. Louis and Freda knew it and so will the coming generations of business-people in Central New Hampshire.

                    Start your own business for less than $1,000

                    February 28th, 2013 by Heather

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                      Faculty Forum: Filiz Otucu on Democracy and the Middle East

                      Filiz Otucu is a professor of political science and specializes in international relations, Middle Eastern politics, and the United Nations. A native of Turkey, she earned her MA at the University of Central Oklahoma, and her PhD from the University of Kentucky. Otucu teaches courses on politics and conflict in the Middle East, terrorism and […]