SHELBURNE — Berlin businessman David Poulin was honored with the Androscoggin Valley Chamber of Commerce’s Lifetime Achievement Award during its annual dinner on March 6.
The chamber also recognized Michael Caron with the its BoomPier Award for his volunteer efforts.
Chamber Executive Director Paula Kinney said the 290 people in attendance at the Town and Country Inn and Resort was a record for the chamber.
Among those at the event were Gov. Chris Sununu, U.S. Sen. Maggie Hassan (D-N.H.) and Executive Councilor Michael Cryans.
The criteria for the Lifetime Achievement award are contributions to the community; longevity through good times and bad; and business investment in the community.
Chamber member Kimberly Ross Poirier said Poulin epitomizes the spirit of the award with multiple businesses and over 50 employees.
“He has dedicated himself to providing opportunities in the community and has proved to all who dream that they can find success at home,” she said.
Poirier said that as a high school student, Poulin would listen to motivational tapes on his way to school and put pictures of items he wanted in life on his dashboard.
He joined the Air Force after graduation and when his tour was complete, decided he wanted to return home to Berlin.
Investing his entire savings and borrowing money from his father, he purchased a franchise from Leadership Management Institute and opened Dynamic Motivators in downtown Berlin. But that business was not sustainable, and a try at the rental market also failed.
Working for MetLife, Poulin obtained the necessary licenses and started his own firm, DRP Insurance and Investments.
He purchased the H&R Block franchise in Berlin in 1994 and later purchased ones in North Conway and Ossipee, as well as opening a new one in Colebrook. (In 2017, the Berlin and Ossipee H&R Block operations placed seventh and 19th respectively in the country for growth and quality.)
With Carl Mercier, he co-founded RE/MAX Northern Edge real estate firm, and the pair also revitalized Glen Avenue Plaza. In 2008, he opened his first Verizon store in Ossipee and six months later opened the Berlin Verizon store.
He now owns seven Verizon stores, including ones in Lancaster, Littleton, Newport and St. Johnsbury, Vt., and Mexico, Maine.
In 2015, Poulin purchased the Berlin Auto Mart and adjacent Johnson fuel building, which now house a successful garage and body shop and a new state-of-the-art car wash and gas pumps.
As for Caron, he not only runs a successful business, but according to chamber board member Diana Berthiaume, he spends countless hours assisting with chamber events that require use of his equipment and his labor.
He also volunteers at the Service Credit Union Heritage Park.
In addition to those volunteer efforts, Caron chairs the Berlin Industrial Development and Park Authority and serves as a Berlin Water Commissioner.
Brenda Leavitt, owner of Badger Realty, reported that she grew up in Cascade Flats and has seen the drastic changes that have occurred here over the years.
The Androscoggin River is clean today and she said the area is an increasingly popular tourist destination. She said the chamber has complimented the change by creating events on and around the river.
Leavitt said the increase in tourism fuels growth in all businesses, from restaurants and hotels to grocery stores and shops. From 2017-19, she said values of sold house increased 20 percent, from $74,900-$89,900. The median sold price so far this year is $104,000. She said the value of multi-family homes has increased nearly 47 percent from 2017-19.
Hassan congratulated the chamber on the results it has achieved and said she is focusing on workforce development, job training and support services, helping businesses get off the ground, and expanding broadband in rural area.
The senator also provided an update on efforts to contain the coronavirus — noting that Sununu and the entire congressional delegation are working together in New Hampshire. She said Congress has passed an $8.3 billion spending bill to treat and fight the virus.
Sununu said the economy in the state is booming right now and New Hampshire is ranked number one in the Northeast for millennials. While he said there will eventually be a slowdown, until then “we’re just gonna keep putting our foot on the gas and go as fast as we can.”
Sununu said folks are investing money that flows down to the employees and creates a better quality of life. The state, he said, has an opportunity to invest its resources in things like opioid and mental health and to focus service and access to care on rural areas.
Approved as officers were Bronson Frizzell, president, Diana Berthiaume, vice president, Carissa Dupont, secretary and Julie Cooney, treasurer.
After the awards and dinner, comedian Jim Colliton entertained the crowd.