AUBURN – He started with just an idea and a tremendous work ethic and now runs one of the most successful and innovative companies in Maine.

So when the organizers of the annual Entrepreneur’s Summit went looking for an inspiring keynote speaker, Ford Reiche was an easy pick.

“He’s a natural fit,” said Tim Bryant, a partner with Preti Flaherty Beliveau & Pachios, which has sponsored the event for five years. “He’s an entrepreneur himself and his business is successful in its own right.”

Reiche, CEO of Safe Handling, will open the summit talking about his experiences founding and expanding the bulk transportation company on Rodman Road. The company, which supplies chemicals to industrial users throughout the state, expects $18 million in revenues this year.

Earlier this year Reiche won accolades from the Maine International Trade Center, the U.S. Small Business Administration, Gov. John Baldacci and Mainebiz for innovation, leadership and environmental stewardship.

Bryant said the Sept. 16 summit is designed as a one-stop shop for entrepreneurs. The seminar is split into two tracks: one for start-up entrepreneurs and the other for established entrepreneurs who want to grow.

Among the topics for start-ups: building a professional services team, writing a business plan and securing financing. For established entrepreneurs, exit strategies and succession planning, financing for growth or expansion and guides to marketing. The cost for the summit is $55, which includes breakfast and a networking lunch.

Bryant said the summit came from talks he and former Mainebiz editor Michaela Cavallaro had as they drove around the state when they were participants in Maine Development Foundation’s Leadership Maine program.

“We talked about what we could do to help Maine businesses and the economy and this is what we developed,” Bryant said. The summit is sponsored by Preti Flaherty, Mainebiz, the Maine Small Business Development Center, Albin Randall & Bennett and the Androscoggin County Chamber of Commerce. The event generally draws about 100 people.

This year marks the first time the summit will be in Lewiston-Auburn. Bryant said the move from Portland was intentional, to make the summit more centrally located.

“We thought we could serve the small business community better from L-A,” he said, noting that the summit typically draws from Augusta, Bangor and L-A, as well as Portland.

Several of the presenters on workshop panels are local, including Candace Sanborn of Encompass Marketing, Mike Dufour of HRH Northern New England, Chris Logan of Androscoggin Bank and Heather Rideout of Filebusters.

In addition to workshops, there will be exhibition booths with resources for entrepreneurs. A networking lunch has been added at the request of previous attendees.

“People who attend really like the networking aspect,” Bryant said. “They have a kindred spirit. And sometimes, when you’re in business for yourself, it can be lonely. So this is a great benefit.”

To register or for more information, go to, or call 791-3111.

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