SKOWHEGAN — Jeff and Rusty Damon have been named Business Person of the Year in the 2017 Mid-Maine Chamber of Commerce awards announced this month, but they are more than just brothers.

The Damons say they are a part of a bigger picture — a family picture — with seven stores scattered across central Maine.

“We’re very humbled by the award,” Jeff Damon, 56, of Madison, said from their office at Damon’s Beverage Mart in Skowhegan. “But the award is business person of the year, which is what they chose to do, but we are so much more than business person — we are a business family.”

Jeff Damon said their “business family” includes the nine family members working in the stores; the more than 100 employees, vendors and suppliers; their bank; their accountant; and their lawyer.

“These are people that have been with us for the last 35 years, that have helped us get to where we are,” he said.

Brothers Jeff and Rusty, 51, of Skowhegan, and their late father, James Damon, started the business in April 1983, opening The Beverage Mart on North Avenue in Skowhegan. The family now owns two stores in Augusta, two in Skowhegan, one in Bangor and two in Waterville, including the former Jokas Discount Beverage on Front Street and the now-closed Bob-In tavern attached to Jokas on Temple Street. They also built a new College Quick Stop on West River Road in Waterville.

The stores offer pizza, sandwiches, hot soup, groceries, tobacco products, beer, wine and liquor, gas and bottle redemption, depending on the location.

“The Damon family has been proudly serving Maine for almost four decades,” the chamber wrote in a news release announcing the awards. “In 35-plus years they have built their business to seven locations as well as a large liquor wholesale company. The support and hard work ethic of the Damon family has clearly led to their success.

“The Damons’ belief that employees are the ‘most important part of the company’ gives them the ability to expand with the confidence that employee turnover will remain low. Jeff and Rusty have said, ‘Some of our proudest moments are when our employees buy their first homes, vehicles, or are able to simply afford a nice vacation.'”

Jeff and Rusty said they are building their business for the next generation of Damons who already are working “a lot harder then we do.”

The Damons also purchased the former Jock’s Variety in Fairfield Center and built a new store at the corner of Main Street and Western Avenue in Fairfield and later sold both to the Circle K chain of stores.

When James Damon, died in 2004, his wife, Patricia, came on as a full partner in the businesses. Rusty’s twin sons, Donald and James Damon, came on in 2004 and 2006, respectively.

Jeff’s daughters, Whitney Damon and Kylie Damon, started in 2010 and 2011. In addition, two of Rusty’s children, Wyatt and Madison, work part time while they finish high school.

“This award is so much more than Rusty and I. This is family,” Jeff said. “And we’ve got the next generation that’s on the way.”

Jeff added that when he, Rusty and their father opened in 1983, Lou’s Discount Beverage in Augusta, Jokas in Waterville and Damon’s Beverage Mart in Skowhegan all got started about the same time — in the late ’70s or early ’80s,.

“Now we own all three of them,” he said.

The chamber awards ceremony is scheduled for 5 to 7:30 p.m. Thursday in the Carter Hall gymnasium at Kennebec Valley Community College, on Western Avenue in Fairfield.

Doug Harlow — 612-2367

[email protected]

Twitter:@Doug_Harlow

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