Nikki Withrow, right, of Spectrum Health Partners reacts Thursday as Tara Aube of Lewiston wins a hot/cold pack while playing cornhole at Spectrum’s booth at the Maine Business to Business Trade Show at the Norway Savings Bank Arena in Auburn. Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal

AUBURN — The Maine Business to Business Trade Show brought hundreds through the Norway Savings Bank Arena on Thursday to network, mingle and even work through a financial literacy-theme escape room by Community Credit Union and Barclay Sheds.

More than 80 businesses had booths. The Sun Journal asked six exhibitors, “What’s your biggest business challenge right now?” Their responses:

Supannee Saengwong, owner, Jasmine Cafe

“There’s a lot of competitors around for Asian restaurants in the Twin Cities. That’s a challenge for us. It seems like we have a lot of customers, but a lot of people still don’t know about us yet. This year, we’re trying a lot of marketing. We have a food truck. We’re doing something new and we’re going brewery to brewery, some fairs. We do all kind of events, sushi tastings, Thai tastings. Those will introduce them to get to know our food.”

Ian Barclay, co-owner, Barclay’s Skindivers Paradise

“Convincing people that (scuba diving and wind surfing) is not as hard as they think it is. The connotation is, ‘Oh my god, that’s too hard.’ We teach Diveheart — Diveheart is an organization that teaches scuba to paraplegics, amputees, wounded warriors, the blind, deaf. If a paraplegic can scuba dive, chances are you can, too. Seven percent of the population has underwater phobias, so about 93% of the people can do it. Once they get under water, even those who come in, ‘Oh, I’m scared,’ they go, ‘Oh, this is really cool.'”

Karl Lalemand, owner, Designs by Skip and School Calendar Magnets

“Time. I have another business called School Calendar Magnets, we make them for schools all over the country and that almost takes over Designs by Skip. We do these for 5,000 schools. So you call me for 500 pens and somebody calls me for 500 magnets, I’ve got to make sure I get both people taken care of, but in the interim, then somebody else is calling, another schools says I need 10,000 magnets. … Not enough time for business, not enough time for life, not enough time for all that stuff.”

Diane Dubois, owner, Cassiel’s Salon & Spa

“Launching our new services, launching our new direction the company’s going in, which is what brought us here today, going more towards wellness and advanced skin care. The anti-aging movement is huge, it’s a big industry. Getting it out to the community is tough. We can help with that scarring, we can help with skin tags and discoloration and they don’t realize there are items out there for that.”

Kathryn Ference, staffing supervisor, Bonney Staffing Center

“Our biggest challenge right now I would say is a mismatch between candidates and the requirements of the jobs themselves. Needing people with machine operator experience but those people who want to work don’t necessarily have those skills. Also, we have a lot of new Mainers who really need access to ESL (English as a second language) courses before they can really enter the job force.”

Samuel Scalia, co-owner, Crystal Spring Healing Alternatives

“I think it’s not really reaching people but it’s breaking the barrier still, the stigma against CBD (cannabidiol) and THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) because we feel very medical about it; we don’t look at this as something that you’re the stereotypical stoner on the couch getting high. This is people using cannabis and CBD to help better their lives so they can be more functional, not the opposite.”

Karl Lalemand, owner of Designs by Skip and School Calendar Magnets. Kathryn Skelton/Sun Journal

Ian Barclay, co-owner of Barclay’s Skindivers Paradise. Kathryn Skelton/Sun Journal

Supannee Saengwong, owner, Jasmine Cafe. Kathryn Skelton/Sun Journal

Samuel Scalia, co-owner of Crystal Spring Healing Alternatives. Kathryn Skelton/Sun Journal

Kathryn Ference, staffing supervisor, Bonney Staffing Center. Kathryn Skelton/Sun Journal

Diane Dubois, owner of Cassiel’s Salon & Spa. Kathryn Skelton/Sun Journal


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