Apothecary by Design

Portland

What: Independent pharmacy services company

Jobs: 71 workers, 12 in past year. Plans to hire five to 10 this year

Good to know: Has strong relationship with University of New England and Husson schools of pharmacy. Leased new space on Preble Street for expansion.

Top concern: Labor market/worker skills

Key comment from Mark McAuliffe, managing partner: “We are a service business and highly skilled employees are critical to our success. On average we have four to five interns in our pharmacies at any given time. We also have a significant number of pharmacy students working for us part time while they are in school. Since opening we have hired five graduating pharmacists from Maine pharmacy schools.”

Auburn Manufacturing

Mechanic Falls/Auburn

What: Makes high-temperature textiles and composite fabrics

Jobs: 50 workers, three in past year.

Top concern: Labor market/worker skills

Good to know: Benefits from area’s legacy textile and shoe shop workers. Natural gas costs an issue, but mitigated by state programs, including Pine Tree Development Zone and Efficiency Maine.

Key comment from Kathie Leonard, president and CEO: “We’ve lost our enthusiasm toward business development, it seems to me. The tightening of federal, state and municipal budgets has made us focus on how bad things are instead of investing strategically in better infrastructure (energy, telecommunications, transportation, education) to differentiate ourselves and lure business to the state. We invested in our company’s infrastructure with the lowest interest rates in our company’s 35-year history. I just wish our state had done the same, so we’d be ready for opportunities as the economy improves.”

Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Sciences

East Boothbay

What: Private, nonprofit, global research institute

Jobs: 85 workers, growing up to 10 percent a year

Top concern: High-speed Internet

Good to know: Has attracted $100 million in federal grants since 1974. Opened new campus in 2012.

Key comment from Graham Shimmield, executive director, on characterizing Maine’s business climate: “Friendly, but uncoordinated. In particular, the value of a ‘knowledge economy’ seems to be unknown. There is also unfair implementation of cost-sharing when it comes to public funds,both federal and state. A lack of an agreed science and technology strategy is a major impediment to any tech company development.”

Biovation

Boothbay

What: High-tech manufacturer of non-woven fiber and market-specific, specialized chemistry designs, such as antimicrobial formulations for infection control

Jobs: 10-12 workers, two in past year

Top concern: Public investment, incentives and training

Good to know: Has developed a boot-drying product being tested by the U.S. Marine Corps.

Key comment from Kerem Durdag, CEO: “The state infrastructure that exists for training or supporting businesses (from financial, HR, incentives, etc.) is a jewel in the crown of the state of Maine. It’s a key determinant in our thought process for expansion.”

C&L Aerospace

Bangor

What: Maintains, services and leases aircraft

Jobs: 130 workers, 20 in past year. Plan to hire 50 by 2017.

Top concern: Taxes

Good to know: Has work sites in four countries. Expanded headquarters last year in Bangor.

Key comment from Chris Kilgour, CEO: “I have received three different types of grants over the past five years and have been happy with the assistance and support I have received from local, state and federal sources. I think Maine needs to somehow market itself better and concentrate on its strengths to attract business to the area, rather than negatives such as the cost of heat, electricity. We still need to work on those things, but let’s talk about the dedicated workforce in Maine. People of Maine are frugal and inventive, and I have found, when given the opportunity, they apply those skills to their employment, which benefits the business.”

Cross Insurance

Bangor

What: One of the largest independent insurance agencies in New England

Jobs: 700 workers, planning to hire 100 in 2015

Top concern: Proximity to customers and markets

Good to know: Expanding south, with 30 offices in Maine, New Hampshire and Massachusetts

Key comment, from Royce M. Cross, president and CEO: “When looking for a new location, we focus heavily on the demographics of the community. Home offices, type, size and number of industries, property values, population, age of citizens, average income. Maine is a great place to do business, we get tremendous support from the state and also our community banks. I believe they do a great job.”

Hyperlite Mountain Gear

Biddeford

What: Makes ultra-lightweight hiking gear, notably backpacks and tents

Jobs: 21 workers, seven in past year

Top concern: Labor market/skilled workers

Good to know: Sells internationally. Located with 100 small businesses in Pepperell Mill Campus.

Key comment from Mike St. Pierre, founder and CEO: “We understand that many business people, as well as much business data, would indicate that the Maine business climate can be difficult for a variety of reasons. However, we love the state and believe that any obstacles can be overcome with proper planning and execution. Admittedly, it is not easy to find skilled labor for the majority of jobs we continually seek to fill. But that just means searching harder and planning training time for new employees, if necessary.”

InSphero

Brunswick

What: Biotech startup making three-dimensional cell culture products for testing new drugs in labs

Jobs: Three workers. Plans to hire five this year.

Top concern: Public investments, incentives and training

Good to know: Swiss-based company chose TechPlace at Brunswick Landing for biotech incubator lab, with plans to grow U.S. headquarters in Maine.

Key comment from Stewart Hunt, director of North American Business Operations: “With regard to our industry, Maine is probably ranked near the bottom nationally for money generated. However, with the lifestyle and the close proximity to one of the global hubs — Cambridge, Mass. — Maine should be considering a strong investment in this sector to lure companies to help establish itself in the industry niche. Many in the Boston area, like myself, would consider a positive lifestyle change within 100 miles, but only move if they could establish their livelihoods here.”

Jotul North America

Gorham

What: Assembles cast-iron wood stoves from Norway

Jobs: 85 workers, seven in past year

Top concern: Labor market/skilled workers

Good to know: Uses new Eimskip container ship for deliveries of cast iron from Norway to Portland. Has cut logistics costs 30 percent, compared to Boston.

Key comment from Bret Watson, president and CEO: “We feel the LePage administration is incredibly business-friendly. I can call him or his associates with issues that negatively impact us anytime.”

Kepware Technologies

Portland

What: Develops communications and operations software for industry automation, including oil wells and wind farms

Jobs: 100 workers, 25 in past year. Plans similar rate of growth.

Top concern: Labor market/worker education

Good to know: Company’s communications software is used to help control wells at the world’s first project to convert gas from coal seams into liquefied natural gas.

Key comment from Corson Ellis, chairman and founder: “The governor needs to focus on education as the No. 1 economic development issue. Not taxes, none of the (other) issues. The hottest companies are startups, and they lose money for the first few years, so they could care less about taxes. I believe it’s a completely overrated issue in terms of economic development. The top tech states are California and Massachusetts. They have very high tax rates. But they have great universities. That’s what matters.”

Maine Community Health Options

Lewiston

What: Maine’s first nonprofit, member-directed health plan

Jobs: 135 workers; 80 at Lewiston office, 35 at Fort Kent call center

Top concern: Tie for proximity to customers and high-speed Internet

Good to know: Company serves much of state’s federally funded health exchange, with 40,000 members. Also serving New Hampshire’s insurance marketplace.

Key comment from Kevin Lewis, CEO: “I see a flourishing economy full of entrepreneurs and companies who highly value Maine for its great quality of life. Maine’s business climate is rife with people committed to getting things done, but getting them done the right way, i.e., with a particular value set that emphasizes respect and tolerance alongside success and prosperity.”

Molnlycke Health Care

Brunswick

What: Makes specialty wound-care dressings for medical centers

Jobs: 135 workers; 50 in Brunswick, 85 in Wiscasset. Created 15 jobs in past year. Plans to hire 40 by 2017.

Good to know: Built $47 million manufacturing plant for North American hub. Fast-growing Swedish company operates in 30 countries.

Top concern: Labor market/worker skills

Key comment from Mark Dignum, site director: “Most important is having a skilled, educated workforce available locally. The inability to be able to satisfy this requirement would definitely lead to other states within the U.S. being considered for future investments.”

Portland Pie Co.

Scarborough

What: Maine-based restaurant chain; also makes and sells dough to retail outlets and restaurants

Jobs: 300 workers, 60 hired in past year

Top concern: Proximity to customers

Good to know: Restaurants expanded into New Hampshire and Massachusetts. Continued growth planned through market evaluation, based on number of customers reachable through dine in, take away and delivery at each location.

Key comment from Joe O’Neil, chief operating officer: “Currently we look at the business climate in Maine and maintain that it’s as strong, if not stronger, than it has been in many years, providing confidence to Portland Pie regarding future endeavors.”

Putney Inc.

Portland

What: Veterinary pharmaceutical company making generic and specialty drugs for pets

Jobs: 65 workers, hired 25 in the past year. Plans continued growth.

Top concern: Labor market/worker education

Key comment from Jean Hoffman, president and CEO: “High-speed Internet service is very important but available almost everywhere, except rural America. It isn’t a differentiator. It is expected, like indoor plumbing. Most important is access to educated people, high-quality schools for our team members’ children, proximity to other companies in the veterinary industry such as Idexx, and quality of life.”

ReVision Energy

Portland

What: State’s largest solar energy installer

Jobs: 80 workers, 20 hired in past year

Top concern: Proximity to customers (and self-submitted category, Quality of Place)

Good to know: Expanding south. Subsidiary company, ReVision Heat, focuses on alternatives to heating with oil.

Key comment from Phil Coupe, co-founder and managing partner: “There are tremendous job creation opportunities associated with addressing the root-cause problems of fossil fuel combustion and resulting pollution. Despite the “open for business” sign at Maine’s border, we feel a total lack of encouragement for Maine’s solar industry from Augusta. We are the only state in New England without some type of rebate program for solar. We are looking to New Hampshire and Massachusetts for growth opportunities, because both of those states are strongly pro-solar and their state rebate programs are spurring widespread adoption of solar energy.”

Rinck Advertising

Auburn

What: Full-service marketing and advertising agency.

Jobs: 25 full-time and 15 part-time workers. Hired nine new workers in last year.

Top concern: High-speed Internet

Good to know: Strong Internet connection influenced the company’s decision to locate in Lewiston-Auburn, but toll on Maine Turnpike in New Gloucester hurts efforts to draw talent to area.

Key comment from Peter D. Rinck, CEO: “Marketing certainly is different than other industries. High-speed broadband and fiber optics have allowed us to locate almost anywhere. Oxford Networks invested in Lewiston-Auburn’s fiber optics, and that was very important to us. Access to skilled workers for our company typically means college educated and/or industry experience. We have hosted over 150 interns in 14 years. It’s one way can recruit and train in-house.”

RollEase Innovation Center

Brunswick

What: Designs, makes and markets manual operating systems and accessories for window coverings for businesses and homes

Jobs: 12 workers. Plans to hire two this year.

Top concern: Labor market/worker skills

Good to know: Headquarters in Stamford, Conn. Critical to locating in Maine was pool of engineers and being near universities, for ongoing supply of workers.

Key comment from Greg Farr, senior vice president: “This is not the type of area where we are going to attract a Toyota manufacturing plant, but we could attract 10 different small technology companies with 10 to 20 people each that would provide more to the local economy and enhance the quality of life in the state.”

SaviLinx

Brunswick

What: Call center for federal government contracts and services

Jobs: 130 workers. Plans to hire 120 this year.

Top concern: High-speed Internet

Good to know: Business model linked to access to U.S. Small Business Administration programs that favor contracts with woman-owned firms and those at closed military bases (Brunswick Naval Air Station)

Key comment from Heather Blease, president and CEO: “The quality of life in Maine is stellar and I believe we are still able to attract top talent to our company, because it’s such a great place to live. The aging workforce in Maine works to our benefit, as our jobs are a great fit for our mature workforce.

“As a startup, I feel that the state could do more to help fund early stage companies. Funding sources are fractured and tend to be pigeon-holed by specific industry segments. It is difficult to navigate through various programs to find the job-creation incentives or potential funding sources that are essential for early stage companies.”

STARC Systems

Brunswick

What: Makes reusable modular wall systems for institutional, commercial and industrial construction settings

Jobs: Three workers, plans to add six to 10 this year. Plans to grow to 25 by 2018.

Top concern: Public investment in worker training

Good to know: Product used at Maine Medical Center and Central Maine Medical Center to isolate construction projects in high-traffic areas

Key comment from Bruce Bickford, COO: “Brunswick Landing was a great choice for us. We moved into their TechPlace incubator space, giving us a fixed monthly rate, along with integrated support services. We have been approved as a Pine Tree Development Zone and along with the Maine Manufacturing Extension Partnership training program, will be benefiting from financial assistance to help us increase our staff in a cost-effective manner. Our intention is to train as necessary to fill our manufacturing shop and support roles, so this support is critical.”

Sun Life Financial

Scarborough

What: Canadian-based global financial services company, opening disability insurance branch in Maine

Jobs: Hiring 100 this year. Plans to hire 100 more by 2017.

Top concern: Tie for labor market/skilled workers and proximity to markets and customers

Good to know: Following a site-selection process, picked the Portland area because of the city’s reputation in the disability insurance business and its proximity to other Sun Life offices in the region.

Key comment from Devon Portney Fernald, Sun Life publicist: “Maine has a continuously growing business climate. It has become a popular destination for professionals and businesses in many industries, not just insurance.”

Wicked Joe Coffee

Topsham

What: Organic coffee roaster. Also owns Bard Coffee in Portland.

Jobs: 21 employees, nine in the past year

Top concern: Tie for labor market/worker skills and proximity to customers

Good to know: Opened new energy-efficient roasting facility at former Navy commissary, featuring heat-absorbing solar wall and solar-electric panels.

Key comment from Bob Garver, the owner: “There’s no question that at both Wicked Joe and Bard Coffee, our most important asset/resource is our people. We don’t run without them. We are lucky to have an outstanding team and our success to date is attributable to our staff.”