By Rod Lee
It would not have taken long for persons attending the Webster-Dudley-Oxford Chamber of Commerce’s annual Home & Business Expo at Indian Ranch on October 23rd to appreciate the assortment of vendors that the Chamber’s Organizing Committee had lined up for the event.
Of course, that is not taking into account the temptation to linger at the Empire Travel of Dudley table situated near the entrance to the function hall (with window views on Webster Lake at one end), where Travel Consultant Celeste Lavoie Cooper was providing information about always-popular vacations to Hawaii. Brochures promoting the Pacific paradise as a destination were scattered in front of her.
“My boss recently returned from Hawaii and I have three sets of people in Hawaii right now,” Ms. Lavoie Cooper said. “People who go there have everything they want—quiet or otherwise. Air fares are down, it’s a great place to visit and not as expensive as people think. There are a lot of hotel choices.”
A near thirty-year veteran of the travel industry, Ms. Lavoie Cooper takes pride in Empire Travel’s “no-service-fees” approach and dedication to satisfying customers’ demands.
“Your trip needs to meet your expectations as well as your budget,” she said.
The mood in the room (actually adjoining rooms, allowing for freedom of movement) was understandably upbeat, as participating individuals and companies embraced the chance to showcase their products and services. Typical of the sales pitch being offered by vendors was that of Stephen King of SGE Solar in Milford, who pointed out that “state incentives are changing as of November 26th,” with a move away from the current arrangement to a “smart program.” Especially now, it makes sense to go solar, he said. “Prices are low for equipment and installation.” Smiling as he anticipated a question that might have been posed next, he said “no, I’m not the author, I get asked that all the time;” acknowledging, as it did so, that his first name was spelled the same as the celebrated writer of horror novels.
Courtney Hider, senior sales coordinator for Energy Monster, which has offices in Worcester, Somers, Connecticut and Lincoln, Rhode Island, who was returning to the Expo from a year ago, stressed that the field is “not just solar” but 75-100% off on insulation and rebates on high-efficiency heating and hot water systems”—for instance. Energy Monster is affiliated with Mass Save as a home performance contractor and offers no-cost home energy assessments as part of its portfolio.
Vendors keen on talking up their businesses included Liz Horgan of Nichols College in Dudley, who said of heightened interest in undergraduate degrees in the area of financial management “I wish I could trade the number of accounting majors we have, there are so many jobs out there;” Andrea Kane, a decorative painter from Dudley, who said “if you can think of it, I can paint it…I did the exterior of the Fins & Tales restaurant in Southbridge;” Photographer Tim Lebel of Ten Mangoes who specializes in “experience” work…”portraits, events, real estate…that’s where the economy is heading;” representatives of Brookside Rehabilitation & Healthcare Center in Webster (subacute care, pulmonary rehabilitation, cardiac care, wound care, pain management, feeding tube care, PICC line care, palliative care) who said the facility has received “the highest Medicare rating, 4 out of 5;” Raymond J. Becker, a risk consultant with Oxford Insurance Agency who said “everyone needs it” (auto, home, life and business coverage); Elizabeth Giangrande, assistant director of admissions for the School of Graduate and Professional Studies at Becker College in Worcester who said “we just opened our fifth school, graduate studies—and we are excited to have the option of providing online and evening programs, that’s the wave of the future;” James Beaudry of Cornerstone Bank in Webster who described the Expo as “a fun time, I did it last year;” Scott LeBlanc of Worcester County Memorial Park in Paxton who said “you wouldn’t expect to find us here, would you;” a spokeswoman for the Last Green Valley in Danielson, Connecticut who said the TLGV was seeking input on a new strategic plan it would be creating; and Liz Hernandez of Mexicali Mexican Grill in Webster, who said of the restaurant’s imminent takeover of first-floor space in an historic building in the Sugden Block of downtown Spencer “it should be good for us!.”
Speaking about the event two days afterwards, W-D-O Chamber President Dennis Luukko of Aubuchon Hardware in Webster termed it a success in its second year at Indian Ranch and said “we’re going to book to have it at Indian Ranch again in 2019. Despite the weather we had about forty vendors, which is not bad for a small town and the turnout was good. The spacing of tables was better (than in 2017). Everyone was pleased.”
Contact Rod Lee at [email protected] or 774-232-2999.