PARIS — January is celebrated as Vocation Service Month by Rotary International. In support, the Rotary Club of Oxford Hills has selected five local business people and alumni of Oxford Hills Technical School to honor at its Jan. 22 breakfast meeting. Each was presented with a certificate, an official Rotary mug and asked to speak of their experiences in their respective trade.

Rotary recognition: From left, Rotary Youth Services Director Tina Fox; Dalton Rice, Rice Tree Service in Waterford; Ryan Ricci, 290 Main Street in Norway; Sheldon Rice, Rice Tree Service; Jarek Mains, Mains Earthwork & Construction, LLC in Oxford; Jasmine Colby, Mane Room, Salon & Relaxation Site in Norway; Rotary Vocational Services Director Dan Hart. Nicole Carter / Advertiser Democrat

Ryan Ricci graduated from Oxford Hills in 2009 and studied culinary arts at Johnson & Wales in Providence, Rhode Island. He then went on to work at the happiest place on earth in Florida and traveled through Europe. Ultimately, he returned to Maine and taught for three years at Paris Elementary School and Roberts Farm in Norway.

“I was always one of those kids who wanted to get out an explore,” Ricci said. “I never thought I’d come back home, [but] I love it here.”

Three years ago Ricci returned to his culinary roots as a partner in the Norway start-up pub, 290 Main Street. Ricci stated that much of the restaurant’s success comes from being part of the community. He is rewarded by employing others in an area that does not have an abundance of opportunities. His advice for other new business owners is to be willing to take the chance on themselves.

Sheldon Rice’s road to business ownership was decidedly different. He graduated from OHCHS in 1985 and then Central Maine Community College. He feels fortunate he was able to work with his grandfather and uncle in their Waterford forestry business. He stayed close to home earlier in his career, working in the vegetation management division of a large utility company and becoming a licensed arboricultural arborist.

“I found my passion for what I wanted to do,” Rice said. “The business has grown exponentially in the past several years and I am fortunate to be able to work and live in this community.”

Jasmine Colby, a 2007 graduate, is a partner in the recently opened Mane Room, Salon & Relaxation Site in Norway. She has been a cosmetologist for ten years.

“My first instinct was to get out of town,” she said, to find a busier locale. “But I realized that my profession is built on trust. People knowing me and being in this community has helped.”

Jarek Mains also graduated from OHCHS in 2007. Like Ricci, he left the area for job opportunities that took him across the country working on pipeline construction. He expected that he would eventually return, and the birth of his two daughters prompted it.

“I knew that this is a good place. I want them to grow up here in the Oxford Hills,” Mains said.

Mains started his Norway-based business, Main’s Earthworks & Excavation, LLC in 2016. While he said his start was a bit rough, being able to depend on other contractors made it possible for him to keep going and grow.

The final Rotary honoree was Dalton Rice, Sheldon’s son. The 2014 OHCHS graduate majored in business administration at University of Southern Maine, also playing on the college’s baseball team. When a career in professional baseball didn’t take off, he turned to the family business and feels lucky he can work with his dad.

“I look forward to continue growing with my dad and working in this community,” Dalton Rice said, joking that his favorite place to work is in the raised boom truck where he doesn’t have to listen to the elder Rice. “I can’t hear so well from up there.”

Asked what advice they would share with others starting out with a new business, Sheldon Rice emphasized that passion needs to be the driving force, along with committing the time to execute it.

Ricci and Colby, whose businesses are in highly competitive fields, agreed.

“You have to be there for customers when they need you,” Colby said, noting that there are about 15 other local salons to choose from.

“It’s so true. You need the passion to be able to make that jump,” Ricci said. “I was scared, the failure rate for new restaurants is is 79%. On the face of that, the odds are not in your favor. But the build-off is involvement with your community. How do you give back, how do you connect with people? That’s huge.”

“You’re married to it,” said Mains of managing his business. “But the rewards that you get back, from the time you put in? I always tell someone thinking about it to go for it. It’s good have something that you’ve grown yourself.”

Collectively, the five honorees provide 40 local jobs through their businesses. And as if to underscore the importance of community to success, they revealed how they support each other through both patronage and referrals.

“We’re two doors down from 290 Main Street,” said Colby. “We’ll call over and they actually deliver lunch.”

“I work with the Rice Tree guys a lot,” Mains said. “They’ve helped me out so much, I can’t thank them enough.

“And Jasmine cuts my hair.”

 


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