Christmas tree business owner wins $5,000 entrepreneur contest


Cornville’s Matt Quinn is touting his Christmas tree business plans on Saturday in the Business Lab’s final pitch competition at the Skowhegan Center for Entrepreneurship. Quinn’s presentation won $5,000 from the Skowhegan Savings Bank. Amy Calder / Morning Watchman

SKOWHEGAN — Matt Quinn stood confidently in front of his audience on Saturday, touting the benefits of his business, Cornville Christmas Tree Company LLC.

He immediately caused a chuckle by challenging the claim of a former speaker who said money doesn’t grow on trees.

“I’m here to tell you that it is,” he said.

Quinn, 43, and a handful of other entrepreneurs or budding entrepreneurs, were competing for a $5,000 prize in the first Business Lab final pitch competition presented by Main Street Skowhegan. They stood before an audience of about 30 people, including three judges, at the Skowhegan Center for entrepreneurship, to present their business ideas.

Quinn, who was later announced the winner, already owns the Christmas tree business, which operates Quinn Tree Farm, but he is working to expand it. He said that if he received the $5,000 prize from the Skowhegan Savings Bank, he would buy a tree shaker, which shakes unwanted objects such as dry needles from trees, and a wreath-making machine, which which would save time and money. The bank sponsored Saturday’s event.

In her enthusiastic and entertaining presentation, Quinn said her father, Jeffrey, instilled in her a love of horticulture, and friends and family show up every November and December to help get the trees where they need to be. go.

“You have a Christmas tree stand, you need a Christmas tree,” he said. “We give your family a place to make memories. »

Quinn, who was a full-time firefighter in Skowhegan for seven years and a volunteer 16 years prior, said her clientele was mostly people within a radius of about 25 miles.

“They come to the farm, they chop down their trees and they’re happy,” he says.

The farm sells approximately 1,200 trees wholesale and these are sold and purchased by people from all along the East Coast.

“We are an environmentally responsible and environmentally sustainable company,” Quinn said.

An acre of trees produces enough oxygen for 18 people a day and provides habitat for songbirds, deer, squirrels, skunks, wasps, bees and other animals, he said. . The farm plants two to three seedlings for every tree it harvests and last year, Quinn said, he planted 2,500 trees and brought in $35,000 in sales of not only trees, but also wreaths, garlands and related items. This year, he hopes to earn $65,000. He said he was also looking for more land to grow trees and he didn’t have to own the land. Landowners receive a share of the profits.

Quinn and the other contestants had spent seven previous Saturdays taking a course at the Skowhegan Center for Entrepreneurship, which opened in April at 181 Water St. and is a Main Street Skowhegan program. They listened to speakers and learned about the company’s vision, mission and values, as well as finance and accounting, customer marketing, sales and project management. They also practiced their business pitch. The course facilitator was patrick mooreCommercial Relations Manager for Skowhegan Main Street.

“They put in a lot of work over the seven weeks,” Moore said after Saturday’s event.

Other contestants on Saturday were Heather Hutchins, who owns a lounge but has started a new business, Rock Bottom Cafe, which she says will be a cozy coffee lounge offering a quick, homemade breakfast, with seating outside indoors and outdoors; Joe Almand, who is developing Joe’s Flat Iron Cafe in the former Paper Klip space in downtown Skowhegan and said he was ineligible for the $5,000 prize because he sits on the board of Main Street Skowhegan and Moore is its owner; Noah Sixberry, owner of Sixberry Solutions, a digital marketing agency specializing in search engine optimization, business profile management and social media management; and Sara Forbus, who wants to start a traveling food truck with homemade dishes that she would set up at sporting events, weddings, festivals and for businesses.

Kristina Cannon, Executive Director of Main Street Skowhegan, greeted attendees and members of the public on Saturday, explaining that Main Street is a non-profit organization that helps revitalize Skowhegan, and that includes supporting businesses and entrepreneurs so that they prosper.

“There are a number of things we’re working on to help boost our ecosystem for entrepreneurs and businesses,” Cannon said.

She said more businesses and potential businesses will take the course from the centre, which will continue to work with businesses after it is completed.

“We are really pleased that Skowhegan Savings Bank has said, ‘Yes, we will support you again,'” she said.

Saturday’s judges were Angel Quick, the bank’s vice president of treasury and banking, who announced the winner; Peter Piconi of the Maine Small Business Development Center; and Kim Kennedy, who is in business administration and a faculty member at Kennebec Valley Community College in Fairfield.

Almand, the husband of Skowhegan Town Manager Christine Almand, said in his speech that on July 26 he fell 25 feet into the Kennebec River Gorge, which ended his career as a firefighter . He broke a bone in his face, as well as three ribs and both wrists, and suffered other injuries, including a major brain injury.

“It forced me to make new decisions,” he said of his plan to open a cafe downtown.

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