Friday, August 6, 2010

Hussey Seating Celebrates 175 Years in Business

By Larry Favinger
Staff Columnist
The Hussey Seating Company celebrated its 175 years as a family-owned business last week at its headquarters here.
A series of events were held to mark the milestone, including tours of the facility, remarks by Hussey family members including CEO Tim Hussey and a keynote address by U.S. Sen. Susan Collins on the green at the corporate headquarters, and, off site, a lobster dinner and fireworks.
Hussey, the maker of seating for many facilities including high schools and professional sports organizations, is reported to be the 49th oldest family owned business in the country and the oldest in Maine, Hussey said.
It was founded by William Hussey, a Quaker, in 1835 and has evolved over the years from the maker of unique plows to help farmers deal with Maine’s rocky soil, through the makers and installer of fire escapes to one of the world’s leaders in arena seating.
Among the places they have provided seating for is Gillette Stadium in Foxboro, home of the New England Patriots, Hadlock Field in Portland, home of the Portland Sea Dogs, a AA affiliate of the Boston Red Sox, and Ford Field in Detroit, Mich., the new home of the Detroit Lions of the NFL.
Senator Collins, a fitting speaker for such a celebration, noted that for years she thought her family’s business, S.W. Collins in Caribou, was the oldest in the state but Hussey Co. was nine years old when the Collins business was established.
She put the span the business has been in existence in perspective: “Many heroes of the American Revolution still lived and many heroes of the Civil War had yet to be born.”
At that time, she continued, much of the state of Maine was unexplored and the invention of the lobster trap was still 16 years away.
Nearly 50 Hussey family members were in attendance along with more than 200 currently and retired employees and their families, some suppliers and friends.
“This is indeed a rare event,” Tim Hussey said. “The odds of making it this long are small.”
Hussey said family businesses are not uncommon. He said approximately 80 percent of businesses are family owned. But the longevity of Hussey is uncommon indeed.
“Less than 30 percent of family businesses make it to the second generation,” he said, and only between 3 to 5 percent make it to the third generation. Hussey is in its sixth generation.
“Basically we better not screw it up,” he said. “We stand on the shoulders of our ancestors. We have a great sense of family in this business.”
He thanked the company employees, past and present, for their help in helping sustain the business through good years and bad. “You’re also family,” he said.
The company has been a leader. Hussey said it was the first in Maine to offer profit sharing to its employees and was the first smokeless business in the state as well.
In conclusion, Sen. Collins said Hussey Seating “is an industry leader around the world. Hussey stands tall when people need a place to sit.”
Photo caption: 6th and 7th generation Hussey family members followed by guests lead a procession at Hussey Seating’s 175th Anniversary celebration on Friday, July 31st. (Courtesy photo)

Circus Smirkus Hosts Former President George H.W. and Barbara Bush

Circus-goers may expect calliope music, but at a Circus Smirkus performance here on Aug. 2 “Hail to the Chief” filled the Big Top as President George H.W. Bush and his wife entered the tent.
The invitation to the Bush family was extended last month by Circus Smirkus, the 23-year-old, award-winning, international youth circus based in Greensboro, VT. Kids ages 11 to 18 are stars, on high wire and trapeze, as jugglers, clowns and acrobats.
“It was amazing,” said a smiling, 15-year-old Noah Nielsen of Montpelier, VT, who was part of a diabolo juggling act. “It made us realize that what we do is really important, to have a president and his wife in the audience.”
“It was incredible -- just a joy and an honor to have them here,” said 18-year-old juggler Aaron Dewitt of Buckfield, ME. Aerialist Daniel Sullivan’s family, from Denver, CO, was seeing the show for the first time. “To have my family, and President Bush in the audience at the same time... it was incredible, an adrenaline rush,” said the 17-year-old performer.
Each summer, Circus Smirkus travels the Northeast with its Big Top Tour. This summer, the troupe is performing 70 shows in 16 cities and towns in a seven-week period. It is the only traveling youth circus in the nation to tour “under canvas” (that is, with its own big top tent).
This marks the fifth year that the circus has performed in Kennebunkport, sponsored by the Kennebunkport Consolidated School Parent-Teacher Association. According to Jeni Kingston, a volunteer active with the PTA, the group has raised $75,000 by presenting Circus Smirkus, and has used the funds for many projects at the elementary school including extensive renovations to the gymnasium/auditorium, field trips, artist-in-residency programs, visiting authors and more.
Mr. and Mrs. Bush appeared to thoroughly enjoy the show, posing with performers and crew for photos at intermission. When the two-man Smirkus band -- composer Tristan Moore and percussionist Ryan Gray – hammered out “Hail to the Chief” from their perch high above the ring as Mr. Bush entered, the former president smiled with apparent delight and the audience rose to its feet, applauding. Mr. and Mrs. Bush beamed and clapped as the young Smirkus troupers performed as jugglers, clowns and acrobats. “We’ll be back,” said President Bush as he left the tent.
Circus Smirkus Executive Director Ed LeClair said he was thrilled. “Smirkus has been honored to host a number of well-known visitors over the years,” he said, citing guests like chef Julia Child, actor Michael J. Fox and renowned mime Marcel Marceau. “But a presidential visit is an honor like no other.”
Photo caption: George H.W. and Barbara Bush with the Circus Smirkus crew (Courtesy photo)

Beach Bike Ride for Charity Donates $8,000 to the Be Like Brit Fund

Over sixty cyclists partnered with local sponsors, donors and volunteers to raise over $8,000 for the “Be like Brit Fund” in honor of Britney Gengel, a summer resident of Wells and a victim of the Jan. 12, 2010 earthquake tragedy in Haiti.
The check for $8000 was presented to Cherylann and Len Gengel, Britney’s parents, on behalf of the Be Like Brit Fund. “The generous contributions of many will greatly help our efforts to honor our daughter’s wish to help the poorest of the poor in Haiti “ stated Len Gengel.
Riders and volunteers began their ride at 7 a.m. on Saturday, June 19, to complete their 10 mile journey along the Wells and Moody seacoast.
Vacationers and local folks alike joined together to cheer riders along and support this worthwhile cause. Wells police and town parking employees provided the necessary support to make the ride a success.
In recognition of the costs related to building an orphanage in Haiti, it was announced that next year’s Beach Bike ride would continue to be in support of the Be Like Brit Fund, said Mike Fairweather, volunteer for the Beach Bike ride. “It was our hope to bring the Wells community together for a great cause. The result was beyond our expectations, thank you to all who participated,“ he said.
Riders may register for next year’s 2011 Beach Bike ride by contacting There you can also see videos and pictures of this year’s ride.
The Be Like Brit Fund is a registered 501 (c) 3 nonprofit organization and may be reached at The Beach Bike Ride is managed by volunteer residents of Wells, Maine. For more information contact Donations may be made on line or by check and sent to “Beach Bike Ride for Charity,” PO Box 68, Wells, ME 04090.
Photo caption: (L to R) Sally Fairweather, Mike Fairweather (volunteers), Len Gengel, Cherylann Gengel, ( parents of Britney Gengel, Haiti earthquake victim) (Courtesy photo)