Tucked quietly away in Montville, Maine, Pieceworks offers manufacturing and assembly services from production design to shipping, with a focus on sustainability and made-in-Maine quality. Over 25 years, owner Cathy Roberts has “pieced” together a thriving niche company that has grown from a room in her house alongside a growing young family, to a fully staffed facility built nearby.
Cathy has learned a lot along the way. “I now try to ask the right questions and know where the red flags are,” she said.
During the pandemic, a project came to Pieceworks that, like many others, was unfamiliar. Cathy and her team were informed that the assembly was an integral part of the Covid-19 vaccine distribution. “This energized all of us at Pieceworks to feel like we were part of a solution to the current pandemic,” she said. “The project is ongoing and is a welcome addition to the other products we are currently assembling.”
Working with individual advisors at CEI’s Women’s Business Center (WBC) has been helpful to Cathy as she’s grown her business. She also recommends tapping into the many resources available to small businesses in addition to CEI and the WBC including Eastern Maine District Development Corp., SCORE, Maine Manufacturing Extension Partnership and the Maine Department of Economic Development.
She has other recommendations for fellow women business owners:
- Hire an accountant and bookkeeper when you can afford it. It’s worth the money.
- If possible, offer a flex time schedule, allowing employees to choose time off to attend school functions, appointments and other family commitments. This flexibility to create a schedule that works for their individual situation makes for a very happy workforce!
- Establish a starting and ending time to your work day. The challenge of being self-employed, is creating a “normal” work day and not fill your entire day with just working. Balance is the key!
“I enjoy being an entrepreneur and self-employed and would not have traded the opportunity,” Cathy said. “It has allowed me to be in control of my livelihood, provided valuable flexibility to raise our children, given me a variety of business skills such as marketing, financial and human resource management and offered a creative venue to maintain a sustainable workplace. I can honestly say, Pieceworks is a success story.”
Learn more about Pieceworks
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CEI offers a wide range of assistance to emerging and existing business owners. Through one-on-one consultation, training, workshops, seminars, peer networks and other services, CEI helps individuals across the state get the information they need to start or expand their business. In addition to providing general business assistance, CEI has programs for women; marine-related businesses; farms; ag and food businesses; and refugees and immigrants.
Check out the full range of CEIs Business Advising offerings at https://www.ceimaine.org/advising