Maryland 3.0: TEDCO’s Startup Help on the Shore with Bill Bernard

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For almost ten years, the Maryland Technology Development Corporation, otherwise known as TEDCO, has been the state’s s leading source for business assistance and seed funding for the development of startup companies.

And during their nine years of existence, TEDCO’s track record has been impressive. Hundreds of entrepreneurs have been helped in taking their products to market through mentoring, funding and networking.  That has led to over $110 million in investment dollars and over 350 and research programs funded since 1998.

But what does that mean for the Eastern Shore?

We asked that question to Bill Bernard, TEDCO’s new representative for the Eastern Shore, to get a better idea of how TEDCO works. Bill’s response was to give the example of a very young entrepreneur with a great business idea but who needed help getting his product to market.

Bill also cites his work with hotDesks, a program started by the Eastern Shore Entrepreneurship Center, to provide the tools (like 3D printers) and business consultation support through its Revolution Labs program.

It doesn’t hurt that Bill comes to this new position after a long history of entrepreneurship after a tour of duty in the Peace Corps and a career in marine biology with the Smithsonian Institution. His businesses have included an aquaculture company that operated in the Dominican Republic, and more recently, founding 3Di’s Hyperspectral Remote Sensing Division.

This video is approximately two minutes in length. For more information about TEDCO please go here

Threatre Review: Wacky Neil Simon Classic ‘The Odd Couple’ at TAP

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Neil Simon’s “The Odd Couple,” produced by Tred Avon Players (TAP) and currently playing at Oxford Community Center, may be one of the most successful of Simon’s plays – and considering his long and fruitful career, that’s saying a lot.

The basic concept is simple – two friends who are very different and the conflicts that occur when they become roommates.  One is fastidious, the other a carefree slob. But how many Broadway plays of any era have spawned not only a hit movie but three TV sitcoms – plus various other spin-offs including an animated cartoon and a TV sitcom version (by Simon himself!)

Simon’s play, which premiered in 1965, features mismatched roommates Felix Ungar and Oscar Madison – the one an uptight “neat freak,” the other an easy-going slob.

The original production starred Walter Matthau as Oscar and Art Carney as Felix. The play took home four Tony Awards: Best Actor (Matthau), Best Author (Simon), Best Director (Mike Nichols) and Best Scenic Design (Oliver Smith). Matthau reprised his role in the 1968 film, with Jack Lemmon taking the role of Felix. And in the long-running TV series (1970-75), Matthau was replaced by Jack Klugman and Tony Randall played Felix. For some unknown reason, the TV series changed the spelling of Felix’s name from “Ungar” to “Unger.”  At TAP, they stick to the original.

In this female version, the fastidious roommate was played by Sally Struthers of “All in the Family” fame where she played Gloria, the ditzy daughter of Archie and Edith Bunker and “Meathead’s” wife.  Rita Moreno, who is well-known for her role in “West Side Story” played the messy roommate.  Moreno is one of only twelve performers who have won an Oscar, an Emmy, a Grammy, and a Tony.  This is definitely a story concept with characters that have drawn major talents over the decades.

The plot revolves around the personality clash between the two roommates – Oscar’s life, like his apartment, is a shambles, with unpaid bills, broken appliances, and a failed marriage, but he takes it all in stride, although he gets a bit misty eyed when his five-year-old son calls him on the phone. Meanwhile, his fellow journalist Felix is a hypochondriac who fusses over every detail of his life.  Everything must be  just so! Felix upbraids himself – and everyone around him – when things are not up to his impossible standards.  Every glass must have a coaster. But he’s a terrific cook!  The situation is ideal for comedy – in fact, it’s been used or adapted many times, including in the current TV hit, “The Big Bang Theory.”

Best friends, Oscar and Felix, have at it!    

The play opens at the Friday night poker game in Oscar’s apartment in New York City, sometime in the early 1960s. Four of the six regulars are at the table. The interplay between the characters and several comic bits – the soggy potato chips and “green” sandwiches Oscar brings the other players, due to a broken refrigerator – make it clear that Oscar is a complete slob and living on the edge of financial disaster.  As the evening goes on, it becomes evident that one of the regular players, Felix, is missing – and then they find out that Felix and his wife are getting separated.  Now they’re really worried.

The weekly poker game

But then Felix shows up, quite late, and everyone feigns indifference as he wanders about the room, clearly at his wits’ end. Oscar offers him a bed for the night, and Felix accepts – and after the other players leave, he offers him a place to stay. The basic premise of the play is now set up – in effect lighting the fuse for an explosion the audience senses is bound to happen. But, of course, it would spoil the fun to give much more away.

Cast and crew of “The Odd Couple”

The Tred Avon Players’ production, directed by Ed Langrell, assembles a reliable cast of regulars from local theater productions. Click on link for a Spy interview with the two lead actors, Bill Gross as Oscar and Bob Chauncey as Felix.

Bill Gross takes the role of Oscar,  Loud and physical, he is convincing as a macho ‘60s sportswriter. He does a good job of portraying the character’s growing annoyance with his fastidious roommate, despite his carefree attitude toward most of the rest of his daily life.

Oscar, Vinnie, and Murray the cop listen at the bathroom door, ready to bust in in case Felix tries to “harm himself.”  

Bob Chauncey projects a nice nervous energy as Felix, capturing the suggestions of femininity as the character cooks, cleans, and performs the other duties of Oscar’s missing wife – and reveals an emotional softness that must have seemed far stranger in 1964 than it does now. He is a snappy dresser and his hair looks perfectly sculpted. Chauncey is hilarious when he loudly attempts to clear his sinuses,

While Felix and Oscar get star billing, the rest of the ensemble plays an important part in the play. The four poker buddies – all recognizable New York character types – are very well cast.

Patrick Fee does a fine job as Murray, the street-wise cop with a heart of gold. His mobile face and physical presence are just right for the character. A solid job by one of the Shore’s more versatile character actors.  Most recently, he played Bottom the Weaver in Shore Shakespeare’s production of “Midsummer’s Night’s Dream.”

Felix makes sure that each poker player has a napkin and a coaster – and uses them!

Roy, Oscar’s accountant, is played by Paul Briggs who deftly shows his character’s exasperation and concern about Oscar’s irresponsible finances. Briggs holds his nose and drops the stinky garbage out the window.  But he keeps his feelings  in check when Felix appears, becoming reasonable and pragmatic when it is needed, just like an accountant.

The cynical Speed is played by Brian McGunigle, who is now completing  an impressive run of five roles in a row in plays varying from Shakespeare’s “MacBeth” to Tred Avon’s “A Man of No Importance.” His character’s feigned indifference is well conveyed. But of course, Speed really does have compassion for Felix and McGunigle makes these two seemingly opposite emotions believable.

Zach Schlag is cast as mild-mannered Vinnie, whose henpecked home life is a contrast to the broken marriages of the two main characters. The character’s pliability is the source of several entertaining bits, providing great physical comedy as Vinnie slips and falls while frantically racing around the room to help save Felix.  Although he doesn’t have as many lines as some others, his expressions can be hilarious as he reacts to the other characters.

Felix and the two sisters have a good cry. He’s such a sensitive man!

Lisa Roth and Anna Kusinitz-Dietz play the Pigeon sisters, Gwendolyn and Cecily.  The sisters, a divorcee and a widow,  are originally from England and now live in a neighboring apartment.  They have taken quite a shine to the roommates. Their interactions with Felix and Oscar are a fine bit of Neil Simon comedy, well acted by the sisters as they flirt mischievously or cry copiously.  Their giggles and glances are infectious and the audience loved them. On Thursday night when we were there, the audience broke into spontaneous applause as the sisters left the stage.  It was not the end of the scene.

The set, consisting entirely of Oscar’s living room, is worth walking up for a closer look at intermission or after the play closes – details such as an old manual typewriter and a beat-up baseball glove are letter-perfect. The subtle changes in the room as Felix’s “neatnik” influence begins to be seen are nicely done, as well. The costumes are also right on – especially the Pigeon sisters’ early-‘60s colorful dresses with bright, shiny pocketbooks and knee-high boots, Oscar’s #7 Yankees jersey and Speed’s Hawaiian shirts. The soundtrack – designed by Fee – has a nice selection of period-perfect music. A pleasure to see the little touches so well taken care of.

The 50-plus years since the play was written are evident in many details of the plot and dialogue. For example, it’s no longer that unusual for a man to be a good cook – as Felix is. The sums of money mentioned – 34 cents for a pack of cigarettes, for example — are vivid reminders of what inflation has done, while the characters’ concern over the cost of a long-distance phone call is a historical curiosity in today’s era of unlimited cell phone plans.

And hints – quite humorous hints! – that the relationship between Felix and Oscar echoes their failed marriages, probably seemed edgy if not outright taboo in the early ‘60s.  The uptight culture associated with the 1950s lingered into the early ’60s. Hippies hadn’t happened yet and the sexual revolution was still on the horizon. Simon was exploring new territory. He used comedy to explore relationships and situations that would raise few eyebrows today but were uncomfortable for most people at the time. Divorce, separation, alimony, all these were looked upon very differently then than now. Those who lived through those times will find the contrast from today both interesting and amusing; younger audiences may find it an entertaining history lesson. But this is all subtext, the play is a comedy about relationships and surviving breakups, whether it be with spouses or friends. It asks whether people can change and grow. And it ends with hope and a laugh.

There were plenty of laughs in the large audience for Thursday’s performance, which director Langrell described as a “pre-opening” opening. If you’re in the mood for a classic comedy, with  nostalgia for a different time, it’s well worth the trip to Oxford Community Center, 200 Oxford Road. It’s about an hour from Chestertown or 15 minutes from Easton. The play runs just over two hours.  Remember it starts at 7:30 not 8 p.m.!

“The Odd Couple” is playing through August 20. Shows on Thursday, Friday and Saturday are at 7:30 p.m.; Sunday matinees are at 2 p.m. Admission is $20 for adults, $10 for students. Call 410-226-0061 for reservations – which are strongly recommended, judging by the sizable audience Thursday.  This Sunday’s matinee, we are told, is practically sold out already!

Photos in this article are courtesy of Randy Bachand. Thank you, Randy!

Check back – we’ll be posting more photos.

Felix straightens a picture. It was just a tiny bit off-kilter. And it was driving him crazy!

She likes me!

L-R Standing: Speed, (Hawaiian shirt), Murray, Vinnie, Briggs, Oscar,  Seated – Felix

Murray, Speed, and Oscar

Vinnie tries to sweet-talk Felix into some sense.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

William (Bill) Lane, Jr. Celebrates 35 years with Avon-Dixon Insurance Agency

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Avon-Dixon Insurance Agency, a member of Shore Bancshares community of companies, is proud to recognize Bill Lane, Jr. for 35 years of dedicated service. Mr. Lane began his career with Avon-Dixon in 1982 as an insurance sales and service representative for personal and commercial insurance products. Mr. Lane is currently a Senior Executive Vice-President and works with insurance products that assist clients with asset protection and wealth management. Mr. Lane is certified in insurance counseling and risk management.

“Avon-Dixon is pleased to celebrate 35 years with Bill. His commitment to his customers and his continuing drive to learn something new every day speaks volumes to his clients and co-workers. It is always a pleasure to work with him” says Rich Trippe, President and CEO of Avon-Dixon.

Mr. Lane resides in Easton with his wife, Barbara. He enjoys small boat sailing and woodworking. Mr. Lane currently serves on committees for multiple organizations, such as Mid-Shore Community Foundation, Critchlow Adkins Children’s Centers, Talbot Historical Society and more.

Johnston Earns Registered Holy Yoga Instructor Credential

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Phyllis Johnston, owner of Every Body Yoga in Centreville, MD completed training to become a registered Holy Yoga Instructor (R-HYI).  The 95 hour program included a week long training in Arizona.

Johnston offers Holy Yoga classes on a donation basis at her Centreville studio. Classes are held on Tuesdays at 6 pm.  All are welcome, beginners and experienced.

Holy Yoga is an experiential worship created to deepen people’s connection to Christ. Our sole purpose is to facilitate a Christ honoring experience that offers an opportunity to believers and non-believers alike to authentically connect to God through His Word, worship, and wellness. Holy Yoga exists to carry the gospel to the ends of the earth through the modality of yoga.

Every Body Yoga has been serving the mid-shore since January 2000 with group and private yoga instruction, stress management and wellness workshops and the only registered yoga teacher training program on Maryland’s Eastern Shore.  Johnston is an Experienced Registered Yoga Teacher (E-RYT) with 30 years of yoga study and practice.

All are welcome.  For more information, visit www.everybodyyoga.biz.

Smoke, Rattle & Roll – Chestertown Has a New Restaurant!

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Chestertown has a new restaurant! Smoke, Rattle & Roll opened on Saturday, July 22.  The second of its name – the first is in Stevensville on Kent Island – SR&R specializes in barbecue and Mexican dishes along with a variety of sandwiches, salads, and sides.  SR&R will be open Sunday through Thursday from 11:00 am – 9:00 pm then stay open til 10:00 pm on Fridays and Saturdays.

Located in Kent Plaza next to China House, Smoke, Rattle & Roll will offer eat-in, take-out, and catering. The specialty of the house is the BBQ ribs platter (full rack $21.99, half $12.99).  There is a choice of seven sauces that range from the mild and sweet to the hot and spicy. In addition to the ribs, there’s barbecued pork, chicken, or beef brisket served in a sandwich with one side or on a platter with more meat and two sides. These are reasonably priced, running from $7.48 – $12.00 for the BBQ sandwich/platter selections.  All the meat is rubbed with their special recipe then hickory-smoked for a minimum of twelve hours.

If you’re not in a BBQ mood, you can order a burger or a BLT.  Or wings.  Or mac-n-cheese. There’s something for everyone. Burgers are priced from $8.48 – $12.98 and come in one patty (1/4 lb) or double patties (1/2 lb).  Gluten-free buns are available for $1.50 extra.  You can satisfy your yen for Mexican food with a burrito, taco, quesadilla, or nachos.  There’s a house salad, a Caesar salad, and a taco salad.  See the complete menu online.

Rarin’ to go! The new staff finished a day of training and orientation before the grand opening on Saturday.

Smoke, Rattle & Roll has four large flat-screen TVs on the wall behind the bar.

The restaurant has applied for and expects to receive a license for beer and wine in the near future.  The bar is all ready to go into action.  It has the traditional high stools and four large flat-screen TVs on the wall behind the bar.

The restaurant also has several catering options.  You can come in and pick up a DIY kit and put it all together at home.  Or you can hire Smoke, Rattle & Roll’s food truck to arrive at your house or business with everything you need to feed your hungry hordes – from the grill and ingredients to the cooks and kitchen crew.  The truck is $300 per hour plus the price of the food. For details email the catering manager, Randy Bone, at contact@smokerattleandroll.com

Welcome to Chestertown, Smoke, Rattle & Roll!

Email: contact@smokerattleandroll.com For more information see the Shake, Rattle & Roll website.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Maryland 3.0: LaMotte Chemical Hits Paydirt

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The ultimate goal of a manufacturing company is to develop a product so rare, so specific in purpose, and so difficult for competitors to replicate, that it catapults the business to a new level of profitability and growth. In truth, however, that kind of dynamic force remains elusive for the vast majority of the small manufacturers of the world.

Faced with the day to day business of holding their market position, lacking large research and development budgets, and always needing to adjust pricing to stay in the game, the small manufacturer’s real objective is to remain competitive with what they produce now rather than seek the holy grail of a transformational new product.

And since 1919, the LaMotte Chemical Company in Chestertown has been doing just that; selling high-quality testing equipment for such things as boilers, swimming pools, and drinking water. And while they have had some breakout products since the chemist, Frank LaMotte, started the business, the public perception of the company, especially as it relocated to the Eastern Shore in 1956 from Baltimore, was one of a reliable, if not particularly exciting, venture that makes a small range of products extremely well.

That might be one of the reasons the Arthur H. Thomas Company of New Jersey purchased the family-owned business in 1983. Its “steady Eddie” track record, with modest but consistent profit margins, could only be seen as a solid asset for a new parent company eager to branch out to include water testing in their portfolio of science testing equipment.

At least that was the plan as LaMotte’s president, David LaMotte (grandson of the founder), understood it, but that didn’t stop the small company from thinking about “the next great thing” in water testing. With the encouragement of Thomas, LaMotte staff continued to explore ways to use modern technology to improve the accuracy and speed of their testing methods.

Little did anyone know that after seven years of tinkering, all this effort would produce the kind of “wow” product other firms could only dream about. The development of the Waterlink Spin Touch unit has radically changed the future of both water testing and LaMotte Chemical at the same time.

Looking like an oversized CD player, and armed with specialized testing discs and Bluetooth controlled data collection, the Spin Touch can now test for up to ten different water conditions in less the 60 seconds and broadcast those results to regional and national databases just as quickly. The results have added over $12 million annually to LaMotte’s top line, created the need to add 30 new employees, build a 9,000 square foot expansion to the physical plant, and legally protect the Spin Touch’s design through the development of dozens of new patents. This success has also caused an entirely new spirit among LaMotte’s employees as they see their product become the equivalent of the iPhone for water testing throughout the world.

This video is approximately five minutes in length. For more information about LaMotte Chemical Company please go here

Benchworks Launches New Website

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Chestertown, MD, June 29, 2017 – ” Benchworks is pleased to announce that it recently launched a new website. The site gives visitors to www.benchworks.com a comprehensive view of the marketing firm which is headquartered in Chestertown, Maryland, at 954 High Street.

The new site presents Benchworks as “a new breed of agency” and highlights the company’s capabilities, such as brand development and strategy, creative services, digital services, public relations, brand team and operational support, and tactical plan creation and execution. It showcases the agency’s leadership and staff while offering a look into the agency’s philosophy as well as its interaction and strategic insight processes.

Sally Reed, Benchworks Vice President of Digital spearheaded the website project. “Our Creative Director Jake King concepted a fresh, contemporary look for the site to coordinate with content that reflects the direction of the agency. Benchworks has an impressive body of work and this responsive site displays what we offer our clients, both in terms of creative design and execution,” Sally said.

Melissa Johnston, President of Benchworks, said, “At Benchworks, we are proud of the clients we represent and the marketing initiatives we have performed to achieve our mission which is to improve lives through marketing. This new website highlights our unique culture and core capabilities while it provides insight, information, and a reference point for visitors.”

Benchworks, a comprehensive marketing services agency headquartered in Chestertown, Maryland, was founded in 1991. With offices in Philadelphia and Boston, the company specializes in the design, production, and launch of complete marketing and branding services. Clients include a wide variety of companies in the life science, pharmaceutical, beverage, manufacturing, and education industries in North America and Europe. For additional information, visit the new Benchworks website or call 800-536-4670.

About Agency LRB

Located in Philadelphia’s Fishtown area, Agency LRB enhances Benchworks’ ability to serve an expanding list of national clients, providing greater access to the agency’s award-winning quality services. The location takes full advantage of the depth of creative talent that can be found in one of Philadelphia’s hippest, most artistic neighborhoods. The name of the agency reflects the initials of Benchworks CEO Thad Bench’s father, Leigh R. Bench.

About Safe Chain

Safe Chain is a rapidly growing distributor serving customers worldwide through its two divisions: Logistics Solutions and Healthcare Solutions. Headquartered in Cambridge, Maryland, the company has a sales office in Miami as well as Annapolis, Maryland. For more information, visit Safe Chain’s website or call 855-43PL-SCS (855-437-5727).

All pictures from the new Benchworks website.

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Judy Crow New Maryland Wineries President

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Judy Crow

The Maryland Wineries Association announced May 1 that Judy Crow, owner and operator of Crow Vineyards, is the new President of the Board of Directors. Crow will preside over all Maryland Wineries Association meetings, assist with membership initiatives and guide major policy discussions at this critical time of industry growth.

“Judy has been an industry leader since the winery’s inception and we look forward to her dedication in the role of president of the association,” said Kevin Atticks, Executive Director of the Maryland Wineries Association.

Crow was raised on a dairy farm and spent almost thirty years teaching college and creating early childhood programs in Maryland and Delaware before she met Roy Crow, her husband. In 2008, Judy and Roy married and began the transformation of Crow Farm, a third generation family farm located in Kennedyville on the Eastern Shore. Together Roy and Judy focused on diversifying the farm from the traditional farm of corn and soy beans to include a farmstay B&B, a vineyard, and a winery along with an impressive herd of grass fed Angus cattle. Committed to creating the best products in the region, Judy, her son Brandon, and Roy continue to be very hands-on with the management of winemaking, the tasting room and wholesale distribution.

“In the short time I have been in the wine business, I have seen growth in the Maryland industry and believe that, with a strong winery association, the opportunities are endless. I believe that Maryland’s diverse wine growing regions allow consumers and tourist alike to experience a full portfolio of interesting wines,” said Judy Crow.

Maryland Wineries Association, a non-profit, member based, trade association, represents more than 80 wineries across the state. MWA’s mission is to cultivate a sustainable wine-growing community by expanding agricultural products and by increasing awareness through special events, industry education, advocacy, promotions and tourism. MWA is represented by the management group, Grow & Fortify. For more information, please visit the MWA website

Making it Work on the Shore: Reinventing Downtown Easton with Ross Benincasa

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In years past, the role of a director of a downtown association would consist of managing and promoting a series of special events created to encourage retail shopping. Special days like “First Friday” and free concert programs have become the standard practice to bring residents and their families to their downtown districts, but is that enough in a country that soon can expect same day delivery from internet sellers?

The answer coming from Ross Benincasa, the Easton Business Alliance’s director, is a definite “no.” While special events remain important strategies, the work of promoting downtown shopping has become increasingly more sophisticated as Ross notes in his first Spy interview.

Specifically, Benincasa, the EBA Board, and Easton’s Town Council are now looking such things as downtown “walkability” improvements and studying pedestrian navigation patterns to significantly improve the experience of shopping. In fact, through Ross’ initiation, the town was the recent recipient of a $145,000 grant from Google to implement its new store view program, allowing app users to peek inside stores, restaurants, and public institutions like libraries and museums, before actually stepping into those venues. The grant also provides Easton a generous advertising budget to go into Washington and Baltimore media markets with its message.

The Spy caught up with Ross at the Bullitt House, where the Easton Business Alliance has their offices, to talk about the future of downtown Easton, its current challenges, and a very encouraging forecast that Easton is well positioned to adjust to this changing climate and maintain its position as one of the Eastern Shore’s most popular shopping hubs.

This video is approximately eight minutes in length. For more information about the Easton Business Alliance please go here.