LEWISTON — Thomas Jumper had a horse head, a clown nose and big plans.

The 17-year-old Lewiston High School junior, by far the youngest business owner manning a booth Thursday at the Maine Business to Business Trade Show, started PhoBoCo, a photo booth rental company, earlier this year.

Inspiration came from his older brother, a wedding photographer. Startup capital came from the Young Entrepreneurs Academy.

Jumper handed out business cards, took photos and talked potential future gigs with passers-by.

“I’ve just got to try to bring the fun,” he said. “I enjoy that, I love being social.”

The 21st annual trade show brought hundreds of people at a time throughout the day at the Androscoggin Bank Colisee.

John Berry from Sabattus, handing out business cards that read “Maine Santa,” walked the floor with a white beard and red and white Santa’s hat.

He was there because “businesses have Christmas parties,” Berry said.

A retiree and volunteer hospital chaplain, he donned the iconic outfit for the first time four years ago.

“Big Lots! needed a Santa,” Berry said. “I did it and I really liked it.”

Carrie Bonnefond, instructor/instructor trainer and owner of Lighthouse Health and Safety, had grabbing a booth at the trade show on her to-do list for a year.

“I want to get out there, I want to meet people,” she said.

The five-year-old Auburn company specializes in teaching CPR and other safety trainings at workplaces, day cares and camps. It’s always special, she said, to hear how her trainings came in handy after the fact.

During her swim safety course, she teaches kids to always shout “1, 2, 3!” before jumping in a pool. A grandmother told her once that her 2-year-old granddaughter had opened the door and slipped into the backyard unnoticed.

“They heard ‘1, 2, 3!’ and the mother and grandmother sprinted to the pool because they knew what that meant,” Bonnefond said. “You get goosebumps and you tear up and you hug the little one a little tighter and say, ‘Good job.’ It could have been so much worse.”

Myles Malley, director of the plastics division of Malley Industries, made the drive from New Brunswick for the trade show. His company specializes in ambulances, other emergency response vehicles and plastic components. 

It was his first trade show in the U.S. for the company. More than half of Malley Industries’ sales are in the U.S., but not much of that goes to Maine.

“I think we’ve got a few people lined up to come tour us,” Malley said. “I think it’s going to become an annual show for us.”

John Holden, president of the Lewiston-Auburn Economic Growth Council, the show’s organizer, was happy with the crowd and the reach of the event, which was rebranded as the Maine Business to Business Trade Show this year.

“We want to make this the place where Maine businesses connect,” he said. “I’m seeing business from Bangor walking the show.”

He was even making those connections one-on-one: A young man asked if he could stash his coat behind a show booth and when he returned for it, he said offhand to Holden, “‘This is great, I’ve been talking to people about starting a business.’ Well, you came to the right place.”

Holden steered him toward the Androscoggin Valley Council of Governments and Top Gun entrepreneur program, introducing him at both booths.

“It’s just a start. I’ve got people in mind he should meet with,” Holden said.

Jumper said his PhoBoCo is something he can see growing after high school graduation. He recently had his booth at the Lewiston High School prom.

He seemed completely at ease on the trade show floor and said the confidence came naturally.

“I get it from him,” Jumper said, pointing to his dad, Mark Jumper, in The Vac Shak booth next to him.

Mark Jumper, who’s worked at The Vac Shak for 30 years and bought the company two years ago, said it was also his first year at the trade show.

“I don’t want to sell you just a vacuum — I want to sell you every vacuum you’re ever going to buy,” he said, summing up his sales and service philosophy.

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