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Auburn is A-OK for merchants and customers they serve

By Rod Lee

Wherever one turns along the main corridors (Routes 12 and 20) that thread their way through the town of Auburn it is obvious that business is thriving.

That is certainly true at Bentley Pub, 602 Southbridge St.; attributable, Owner Jim Taylor said during the noon hour on May 9th, to “a great crew and great staff” that keep customers coming through the door for lunch and dinner from 11:30 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. seven days a week.

“My sales have increased annually for the last three years,” Mr. Taylor said.

That was not guaranteed after the former Piccadilly Pub closed and then reopened as the Bentley Pub. But, Mr. Taylor said, “this was one of the more successful Piccadilly’s and it was only closed for four months.”

The Auburn-area community has embraced the restaurant with open arms, he said.

The “Homes by Emerson” division of Emerson Realtors is currently developing Windmill Estates, an over-55 community.

The success of Emerson Realtors, 1B Swanson Road, typifies the fertile climate for commerce that has made Auburn a feeding ground for all sort of enterprise.

“We are the largest real estate-and-construction company in Auburn with forty agents and the most client transactions,” Emerson’s Kevin Maher said. “With inventory in short supply there is a lot of demand from buyers to find properties.”

“Homes by Emerson” is the second side of the Emerson experience and is reflected, for instance, by the arrival of Windmill Estates, an over-55 residential complex now being built atop Prospect St.

“We will have thirty homes available in Windmill Estates and probably ten are sold,” Mr. Maher said.

Jessica Smith Lerner realized a personal goal by launching Abode Real Estate, 48 Auburn St., a year ago and the company is “very busy,” Rich Lerner said. “We serve all of Massachusetts. Jessica was No. 1 for existing home sales in Auburn last year.”

A key to Abode’s success, Mr. Lerner said, is “we specialize in going above and beyond” with such extras as “trash and junk removal, staging and minor repairs.”

Rhonda Rosenquist of Protech Laser explains a steady call for service from the firm’s half a dozen employees, all of whom “work remotely” and are therefore highly mobile, to a decision by the buying public to turn away from a reliance on “big suppliers and superstores.” Customers are coming back to favoring smaller outfits like Protech Laser.

It helps too, Ms. Rosenquist said, that “years ago people talked about going paperless but people are still printing and recycling which is great for us because we service nothing but printers.

“We have a lot of longtime customers throughout Worcester County and Metro West.”

Timely and efficient responses are also a forte of PuroClean Certified Restoration, 482 Southbridge St., whose specialists tackle mold and water issues on a daily basis. In attics, in basements or wherever the problem arises.

“More and more banks are requiring that these things get taken care of before a home is sold,” PuroClean Owner Nigel Belgrave said on May 10th. Mr. Belgrave took a few minutes to chat before heading to the site of “a water emergency.”

Customer satisfaction is a top priority.

Michele St. Germain, owner of Graphic Express, 16 Montclair Drive, is patronized in a similarly fervent fashion by individuals and businesses looking for truck lettering, wraps and signs.

Custom carbon fiber wraps and graphics, window lettering, magnetics, banners, and job-site signs are all within Graphic Express’s purview.

Graphic Express started in Charlton in 1998, relocated to Worcester and has been on Montclair Drive for three years.

“I do truck lettering for Penske for trucks they lease out, for Tri-State Freightliner (I did fifty-four tractors for them in December), for a company in Canada that just sends me the decals, for Rotmans Furniture. I did a bus for Holy Cross, for the college’s sports teams.

“I will pretty much letter anything!”

Ms. St. Germain relies on “good high-quality material” that lasts. “None of the material I use is for the short-term,” she said.

Framer’s Gallery in the Heritage Mall, 567 Southbridge St., takes pride in framing it has done for close to three decades now, Owner Henry Montville said.

“We do shadow boxes, (game) jerseys, we can frame guns and knives and metal, needlepoint,” Mr. Montville said.

Artwork on display at Framer’s Gallery is enhanced by the framing treatments crafted by Owner Henry Montville.

Numerous examples of Mr. Montville’s framing expertise are displayed at Framer’s Gallery; a texturing surface applied by hand gives twenty and thirty-dollar prints an exciting new life.

Joe Heymann is not only retail manager for New England Spas’ Auburn store, but a customer for whom a hot tub has made a difference with back issues

Joe Heymann, retail manager at New England Spas’ store at 4 Johnson St., is also a customer and so is well-versed in the benefits that can be derived from purchasing a Hot Spring or Sundance hot tub.

“I have lower back issues, L4 and L5 and a herniated disk,” Mr. Heymann said. “I use my hot tub twice a day, six days a week. I can’t live without it. It’s life changing.”

The popularity of hot tubs (and saunas) is driven at the moment by an emphasis on “health and wellness,” Mr. Heymann said (he noted that New England Spas is the only spa company in the country endorsed by a health-care provider—Harvard Pilgrim).” Hot tubs are perfect for “relaxation and stress relief.” One of the first questions he asks prospective customers, he said, is “how do you relax?”

New England Spas general-contracts out many of its jobs and stays in touch “from beginning to end” with a “white-glove-treatment” approach, he said.

The store is open seven days a week and offers sixty-month zero-percent financing. Referrals are a big part of the store’s business. “We’ve had over one hundred Google reviews, all 5-Star,” he said. “We not only sell the product, we use it. So the passion for what we sell is a huge factor.”

A service department of nine factory-trained technicians is available year-round.

Pools & Cues & Spas, Too, 760 Southbridge St., has been the world’s top dealer in Dimension One hot tubs for the past two years and the same company manufactures Aqua Fit swim spas “so people can exercise all year,” Judy Melanson said.

“The best exercise in the world is water buoyancy of pools and spas,” Ms. Melanson, who has more than forty years in the industry, said. “Some people get them for fun but a lot of people get them for aches and pains.”

In business since 1993, Pools & Cues & Spas too offers a variety of options for above-ground pools and a large selection of billiards, dartboards, darts and accessories.

The Melanson’s store has been providing fun for Central Massachusetts and Northern Rhode Island for a quarter century.

Capitol Siding is literally one of the granddaddies of the Auburn business scene with more than sixty-five years in business. Now run by Mark Sarkisian Jr., Capitol Siding is the area’s largest and oldest family-owned home improvement firm with expertise in siding, windows and roofing.

“We are straight out, too busy,” Mr. Sarkisian said. “We just hired a new crew. People have a lot of equity in their homes,” which is driving demand for home-improvement work.

The only downside, Mr. Sarkisian said, is “the price of materials, which keeps going up.”

Contact Rod Lee at [email protected] or 774-232-2999.

Debbie Campbell, Janet Holbrook, Owner Jim Taylor and Candy Lavoie are part of a welcoming atmosphere at Bentley Pub.

Joe Heymann is not only retail manager for New England Spas’ Auburn store, but a customer for whom a hot tub has made a difference with back issues.

Artwork on display at Framer’s Gallery is enhanced by the framing treatments crafted by Owner Henry Montville.

Graphic Express specializes in truck lettering, wraps and signs.

The “Homes by Emerson” division of Emerson Realtors is currently developing Windmill Estates, an over-55 community.

Pools & Cues & Spas Too is a world leader in providing Dimension One hot tubs.