Member Spotlight: Building Alternative Inc.

We recently sat down with Bob Tortorice, owner of Building Alternatives to learn more about his business, its history and the green energy and green building sector. Bob had some great answers to questions we posed about the importance of this industry and how he can be a resource for Chamber members and the community. 

What is Building Alternatives? How and when did the company get started?

We started in February 1987.

I built my home in 1980 and realized that the traditional (stick built) method of building a home was antiquated and wasted time and money. After working as a civil engineer for a modular home company in Nashua, my hands-on education, formal education and my desire to build an energy efficient home with a totally different business model, I started my company when the modular company moved to Florida.

I was motivated to provide a “hand-holding experience” that specialized in understanding the client’s pros and cons of the land, budget, and their desires, with the overall commitment in building an energy efficient home. This was way before the wave of “Green Construction”. I like to say we were “green” when green was just a color.

Building Alternatives Inc. was created to service the individual home owner and light commercial market that had the desire to be involved in the planning and decision making with hands on when possible in building an energy efficient building, but had very little knowledge or experience on how to achieve their desired results.

Why do Green building practices and Energy Star certifications matter to home or commercial building owners? 

When building a “green home or business” the owner is striving to create a building that reduces or even eliminates their energy bills, while creating a place that is draft free, comfortable, and affordable to live in after they retire.

Understanding and addressing the issues of Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) requires the builder to fully understand and address issues of building science. Energy Star Certifications guarantee that the home complies with the strict requirements developed by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Typical energy costs in a green/energy efficient building can be 40 – 60% less than a standard NH energy code-built home.

What services can you provide an existing home or business owner?

New homes are easily designed to be energy efficient in comparison to existing homes. As a certified energy auditor, we conduct energy assessments, develop a plan, and oversee all installed insulation and methods of reduction in infiltration with a goal of reducing energy cost 25-60%. Installation of renewable energy such as solar for heat or electricity or geothermal can reduce the dependency on fossil fuel even more.

Are their tax or other incentives to having a green or energy efficient home? 

Yes, all homes (new or remodeled) will qualify for some tax credits or rebates.

A great resource for current incentives is  http://www.dsireusa.org. Additionally, Eversource and New Hampshire Electric Co-Op clients are eligible for a new $4,000 cash rebate for achieving an energy start rating on the new or remodeled home.

Tell us more about being a construction manager? Is that the same role as a general contractor? 

The end result is similar but the experience in building is totally different. The construction manager works as an agent for the home owner. All building technologies are explored and completely cost out, giving the owner true comparisons of cost. Pros and cons for each segment of construction is investigated in detail. Home owner is an intricate part of the construction process.

The design and construction of an energy efficient home / building starts with the shell of the building, the location on the land and is driving by the quality of the framing and insulation. None of this cost the client any more money but makes the final product the best it can be, energy wise. All cost of every trade’s labor and material, as well as our profit and overhead, is clearly listed and all billing is based on the original cost for each construction segment, never billed for work not started.

Is there anything else that the business and community members of the Littleton Area Chamber of Commerce should know about you, your business or the work that you do? 

We are approaching our 32nd Year in Business and have achieved designing and building with over 23 energy star homes listed under the EPA website. Always moving forward, over 12 years ago we became as a certified HERS, BPI, and National Green Building Standards (NGBS) raters, thus enabling us to act as consultants and energy experts. This certifies other builders that are remodeling or building new construction to Energy Star standards.

Last year we started the national recognized NGBS certifications for multi-family apartment buildings and single family and commercial buildings which need the NGBS certification. Building Alternatives Inc. is under contract for three apartment buildings (45 apartments) which includes certifying not only the entire building, but also each apartment, lowering the operating cost for the owner and each renter.

 

Member Spotlight: The Wayside Inn

The Wayside Inn opened in Bethlehem around the 1910s with current owner Sarah Levy taking over in August 2017.

Tell us about your experience in the hospitality industry.
Sarah went to college in Philadelphia where she stayed to work for Marriott Hotels. Within six years she worked her way up from bar tender to hotel general manager and ended up at a Marriott near her hometown of Hopkinton, Massachusetts.

When Sarah left Mariott, she worked on cruise ships and river boats for American Cruise Lines, then returned to Mass where she took a 9 to 5 job at a hospitality company in Boston. The company was soon to close, so “I was trying to figure out what to do next,” Sarah explained. “Owning an inn and restaurant has been a dream of mine since I was 14 years old.”

Revisiting her dream, Sarah had searches flagged on websites that would email her when a lodging property came up for sale in the New England area. That’s when she found The Wayside Inn.

Why did you decide to purchase The Wayside Inn?
“It’s extremely beautiful and has a ton of potential,” revealed Sarah. “It was so close to Lincoln where I would come as a kid. I came, looked at it, fell in love, and placed my offer.”

Tell us about what you offer, including your restaurant, at The Wayside Inn.
The inn has 26 rooms and a menu Sarah came up with that has been tweaked by Chef Josh Beemer, a Colorado Springs native who has been an executive chef for several years, most recently in Portsmouth before joining The Wayside Inn.

According to Sarah, the food is upscale American fare. “It’s really important to me that my hotel guests can find something they like on the menu,” she explained. “We haven’t pigeonholed it to one type of genre and change the menu seasonally to mix it up for the locals. We also try to add all kinds of new specials so people have something new to try.”

The restaurant overlooks the Ammonoosuc River, and with the addition of a new patio, will have outdoor seating within the next few weeks. The Wayside Inn is also now open for lunch Saturday through Monday from 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. with a Sunday brunch menu served from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.

What do you love about the Littleton area?
“I love the energy here and how peaceful it is,” said Sarah. “Since I’ve moved here I’ve really come to love the community and the people. I feel truly lucky. I’ve definitely been embraced by the Bethlehem community as well as in Twin Mountain and Littleton. I love the scenery, the nature, and to be able to go hiking.

When you find a few moments in your busy schedule, what do you love to do?
Aside from hiking, Sarah is a foodie who tries to eat out once a week. She’s tried the restaurants in Bethlehem and is now working her way through Littleton. She also tried skiing for the first time last winter.

Member Spotlight: Kate Goldsborough Stylist

Kate Goldsborough Stylist is an unusual shop for our area. Owner Kate Goldsborough offers her trained eye and New York style to anyone looking for an a la carte or complete makeover. Her shop, formerly known as Art To Go, is located at 85 Main Street in Littleton.

How did you become a stylist?
After graduating Bennington College, I pursued an acting career in New York City where I did my advanced training. Through the years in school and beyond, make-up and wardrobe processes were running alongside the craft of acting. I borrowed techniques from the stylists for fun and because I was interested. Through that, helping friends, plus lots of shopping as research- of course- I discovered I’d inherited an eye for color from my artist mother, Carole Goldsborough McMillen and and the hand/eye from both she and my surgeon father, Richard H. Goldsborough. Long before I earned my cosmetology license, I found I had the ability to help people bring out their looks, and I found it gratifying that I could manifest my vision while giving them an emotional boost.

Is that your mission?
As the tagline on the front of the store implies, I help women with their look from hair to footwear. But my brand line is, “Get a look that turns your head.”  What I do is for the client herself. So much of beauty is about having your own style, and style doesn’t mean fashion, style means, “I choose to be who I want to be, presenting what I want to present.”

I coach where I see I can help, and that sometimes falls into the area of confidence.

Why did you decide to bring styling to Littleton?
Though I’ve been a consistently evolving retail store, and I’ve been on Main Street since 1995 as Art To Go, Kate Goldsborough Stylist is a change from an emphasis on retail to a total style center, which also includes boutique offerings. But when I decided to re-brand I was super unsure as to whether the market could sustain the unusual business model. I decided to put everything I do under one umbrella.  My clients seem to like it, and when I was in B School (online marketing training for entrepreneurs), Marie Forleo was wowed by the idea.

I had a lot of help from experts around me. Kate Goldsborough Stylist is the evolution of my abilities and proclivities—but it was one scary move to brand the business as me. And who’s ever heard of a style center? Especially in the North Country!

 

I went into Kate Goldsborough Stylist rather bedraggled and came out shining! She is very kind and really knows how to bring out the best in her clients. I get compliments everyday from my new look. I never thought my hair could look this good. I have a skincare and makeup regime I can easily do myself. I love the clothes she picked for me and look forward to buying more. – Virginia W., Manchester VT


What services and products do you offer?
I offer a total makeover. Or people can do just their clothes, hair, makeup, skin, whatever.

The official list includes:
Cut • Color • Brows • Personal Styling • Closet Transformations • Photo Styling • Events • Inner Confidence
But I also address ongoing health for beauty from the inside out.

Browsers can stop by the Main Street location to inquire about working with me on site or have consultations from afar.

I also offer a six-week group class. 603 616-9211 or kategoldsborough.com

 

Which town do you live in?
Bethlehem

What do you love about the Littleton area?
As a shop owner, I love that so many places converge here:  Canada, Vermont, Maine, Mass all touch NH and it’s not a big effort to get to Littleton. It’s fun to hear French in the shoe aisle of TJ Maxx! We have cool shops and businesses on a street that has the advantage of being an old fashioned walking street, and people are charmed by it. As a resident, I love the countryside, skiing, and New England beauty, but there’s also music, art, theater, and a cool community of people.

 

Member Spotlight: Lincoln Sign Company

 

Lincoln Sign Company has been crafting custom wood signs since 1972. We spoke with owner Roy Whitaker about his business, which he purchased in 2015.

Why did you decide to purchase a sign company?
Roy is a serial entrepreneur who has lived in many places. He has been visiting northern New Hampshire since 2002, and a position with New England Disabled Sports brought him to the North Country permanently. “I wanted to be in the mountains,” explained Roy. “It was an opportunity to move in a different direction than where my life was at the time.”

While living and visiting northern New Hampshire, Roy “Noticed the awesome signs around the area that Lincoln Sign had made and I saw the opportunity to continue the craftsmanship tradition.” Although the business wasn’t officially for sale, a conversation with the owner at a BBQ piqued his interest in purchasing the business.

What services and products do you offer?
Lincoln Sign Company is a full-service sign shop offering custom signs of all kinds, banners, and vehicle lettering. They’re known for their carved and dimensional sign work. They also offer design services for the graphics to be used on their products, as well as installation and maintenance services.

Tell us about your expansion!
Lincoln sign is set to relocate to a new building in the Lincoln Industrial Park this summer. According to Roy, “The current shop was founded in 1972 and we’re going to expand by almost three times the footprint, which will give us the opportunity to make more signs. We expect to increase capacity by 40%. Right now we have to start a sign and can’t move it until after the paint dries. With our new space, we won’t have to worry about carving wood on one side of the building and painting on the other.”

Volunteerism
Lincoln Sign Company joined the Littleton Area Chamber of Commerce in 2015. Roy also serves as the President of the Western White Mountains Chamber of Commerce and the Vice President of Adaptive Sports Partners of the North Country.

Which town do you live in?
North Woodstock

What do you love about the Littleton area?
Roy loves the access to outdoor recreation, such as skiing, mountain biking, and hiking.

Member Spotlight: Northern Lights Music

Northern Lights Music has been a highlight on Main Street, Littleton since 1978. We spoke with owners Dan and Moocho Salomon about their business.

Why did you decide to open a music store?
Dan was waiting for Moocho to finish up her degree at Franconia College since he was a semester ahead. He opened up a teaching studio in Littleton while he was waiting. It had accessories and a few instruments to supply his students.

Dan thought that with the student population at Franconia college that there would be a market for a small music/teaching studio. Unfortunately, the year Northern Lights Music was born Franconia College closed its doors. Of course, the store has evolved over its 40 year lifespan starting as a music store, then selling everything from satellite dishes to stereo equipment and then going back to  its roots as a music store which is what it does today.

What services and products do you offer?
The store offers some of the finest guitars in the country now, from luthiers from across America. Collings from Austin Texas, Santa Cruz from California, Bourgeois Guitars from Lewiston, Maine and National and Fender are just some of the companies that are represented today. The store supplies accessories, does repairs and even supplies some fun things for the tourists on Main Street who wander in. The store’s website is an important component of our store today and people can “visit” the store virtually before traveling to see the Main Street location. Northern Lights also ships nationally as the website offers a great up-close representation of what’s in stock for guitars.

 

What roles do each of your family members play in the business?
Dan is the founder and is alway sought for his expertise and wealth of knowledge on all things guitar. Moocho keeps the eye on merchandise, displays, and the retail image. Sons Asher and Ben have been around the store all their young lives and have been working in the business since college. Asher is the videographer for the store’s YouTube page and photographer for the website. He and Ben both are great salesmen and bring essential youthful enthusiasm to the store. Their ability to do IT work has been an important contribution to the store. Everyone in the family is a musician.

 

 

Which town do you live in?
Bethlehem

 What do you love about the Littleton area?
Dan and Mooch always wanted to stay in the area after the College closed. They have always loved hiking, skiing and swimming in the rivers, loving the White Mountains and the quality of life up here. Littleton has always been the center of commerce for the area and it has been interesting and exciting to see its evolution. When we started out it still had Saranac Gloves and JJ Newberry. Now there are hip little shops and a great art and music scene.

How long have you been a Chamber member?
We’ve been a member of the Littleton Area Chamber since the beginning of the store in 1978. We just thought, as we were starting out, that that was the right thing to do.

Are you doing anything fun to commemorate your 40th anniversary?
We will have a celebration for the 40th on June 21st!