LEWISTON – When you’re in the insurance-and-investment business, you trust numbers.

So when underwriters projected that market growth for financial services was best north of the Portland area, Daniel Tolman decided to expand his company right here. In August, he moved Tolman Associates and its 10 employees into the newly renovated top floor of the old CMP building on Main Street.

“Upwards of 20 percent of our market in Portland sold off their homes and relocated to north of Falmouth,” said Tolman, whose financial services company is geared toward small business. “Some had $8,000 tax bills. Now they’re paying half that.”

Tolman Associates is affiliated with Bay State Financial, whose actuaries studied Maine’s demographics and market trends. Their report: about 25 percent of Tolman’s clientele moved out of Cumberland County in the past three years.

“We wanted to be able to better capture that market,” Tolman said. “And to do that, we needed more upscale space.”

The company had been operating out of cramped offices on Russell Street. Randi, Tolman’s wife and corporate secretary, is glad those days are over.

“We were tripping over each other and fighting for the computers,” she said laughing.

That’s not a problem in their new digs, where they spent more than $40,000 in the build-out. The 4,000-square-foot office suite easily accommodates existing staff with room for at least six more, Tolman said. He and his partner, Craig Dickson, are recruiting, offering training incentives of up to $32,000 for agents willing to be trained to get insurance and brokers licenses.

The five-story brick building is perched right at the city’s western gateway, with spectacular views of the river and falls. Sandblasted brick walls and big windows give the suite a feeling of lightness, as do the two parakeets that greet guests in the spacious lobby.

A conference room wall in the center of the suite is broken up by three 5-foot-tall, antique palladium windows with wavy glass panes. The windows were discovered in the basement by Randi and building owner Travis Soule.

“We just had to find a way to use them,” she said.

Daniel Tolman said the investment in the space was well worth it. Visitors comment on how gorgeous it is and he is pleased with the $10-a-square-foot lease rate. By comparison, downtown Class A office space in Portland leases at between $15.50 and $25 a square foot. Tolman has an option to buy the space, which is an office condominium.

For the first time since Soule bought the building in 2004, it is fully occupied. Espo’s Trattoria is on the first floor, with the Grace Community Church on the second, The Academy Lewiston-Auburn, a mixed martial arts school on the third, Pine Tree Teleservices call center on the fourth and then Tolman Associates. The building had been slated for foreclosure before Soule won an 11th-hour reprieve to restructure his terms with Camden National Bank.

Tolman said the locale is ideal for the networking he does with other professionals. His company provides services such as planning 401(k)s, IRA rollovers, setting up benefits programs and trusts, and succession planning. He often works with accountants at Austin Associates, and lawyers from Skelton Taintor & Abbott and Isaacson & Raymond.

“We’re in the heart of where we want to be,” he said.

And he thinks others who follow the actuaries’ forecasts might follow suit.

“I have three clients in the Saco area who recently moved up here to Auburn,” he said.


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