Cutline: Exit Reality Trailblazers support Princess Ball to raise money for local food pantry

Princess BallJohn Trumbull and Chip Labrecque of Exit Realty Trailblazers joined with Heidi Manfredi, founder of the Princess Ball, and United Way of Berlin to provide funds for refreshments. Pictured from left are Chip Labrecque, sales associate, Monte Manfredi, and John Trumbull, broker/owner. The event was held on Friday, March 24, at the Chalet and brought 300 fathers and daughters out on a stormy night, dressed in formal attire for a total sellout. Proceeds were donated to the Feeding Hope Food Pantry. (COURTESY PHOTO)

Re/Max ranks fourth in agent productivity

BERLIN — Re/Max Northern Edge Realty, a locally owned and operated Re/Max franchise, ranks among the top 50 large brokerages in per-agent productivity, based on home sales data from 1,705 qualifying firms participating in the "2017 Real Trends 500 Report."

When the 1,705 participating U.S. brokerages that closed at least 500 transaction sides are measured by transaction sides per agent, Re/Max Northern Edge Realty ranked fourth out of 50 participating U.S. brokerages.

“Re/Max agents sell more real estate than other agents,” said Carl Mercier, Primary Broker of Re/Max Northern Edge Realty. “Ranking in the top 50 for agent productivity among the 1,705 brokerages qualifying for the Real Trends report is an extraordinary achievement for our team. We have some of the most dedicated and productive Realtors in the business, and we’re honored to assist so many home buyers and sellers in the greater Berlin-Gorham area.”

Now in its 30th year, the Real Trends 500 ranks the performance of the top residential real estate brokerage firms in the country. The annual study recognizes a Top 500 as well as all firms that reached a threshold of 500 transaction sides.

Associates affiliated with the Re/Max network regularly average double the number of transaction sides per agent when compared with competitors in the annual survey of large brokerages. Re/Max agents averaged 17.2 transaction sides among all 2017 Real Trends 500 qualifiers while agents with competitors averaged 7.8.

Re/Max Northern Edge Realty is located on 232 Glen Ave., in Berlin. Office (603) 752-0003. Search all local listings and learn more about Re/Max Northern Edge Realty at

The Polish Princess — an entrepreneurial tale from the North Country

By Chris Jensen

LANCASTER — It was supposed to be Magdalena Randall’s triumphal moment: starting her own bakery. Instead, she wanted to cry — and she was a strong, determined soul with plenty of gumption. She was not accustomed to swooning.
She’d come to the United States from Poland in 2003, dreaming of having a business of her own. That was put on hold while she raised two boys, who were now adolescents.

For six years she’d been selling European-style bread at two local farmers markets. It was baked in her kitchen and the demand was so great that, in a kind of Manifest Destiny, it took over other parts of her house. Flour was stored in the dining room.

Her success was noticed by a Greg Cloutier, a businessman, who offered to rebuild a burned-out store on Main Street if she wanted to rent it and open a bakery.

Cloutier figured people loved her bread and he sensed an “entrepreneurial spirit of focus — she was just not going to fail.”
His timing was good. As Randall’s boys had gotten older, her thoughts had increasingly slipped back to having a business. Her husband, Herb, thought it was a good idea.

But she had jitters. What if she failed? And, there was the pesky little matter of money.

“My biggest fear was to invest a lot of money and lose it, because I didn’t have a lot of money,” she said.

Randall jumped at Cloutier’s offer. Then, she thought: “Oh, my gosh. What have I done?” She began quietly hoping Cloutier would change his mind. Her fear of failure had come back.

Then, she had what she calls “a moment of enlightenment.” It went like this: “If I am afraid of it, I will never be able to do it.” She wanted a bakery. She would suppress her fear.

Second opinion

But she wanted another opinion, which she sought from Jeffrey Hamelman. He teaches professional baking around the country and is the bakery director at King Arthur Flour in Vermont.

Randall had taken several of his classes, and he was impressed.

“It was her dedication, initially, that I found most inspiring,” Hamelman said. “She seems to do everything with a real sense of humor and real commitment. She was always eager, was always curious and showed good skills.”

He encouraged her to go ahead.

“He gave me the last push,” she said.

Hamelman even went to Lancaster and spent a day helping Randall figure out where the equipment should be.

“I thought she was the real deal. She is committed and smart,” Hamelman said.

She also needed a financial plan to get a loan. She went to Stewart Gates, a business adviser for the federal government’s Small Business Development Center. It offers free counseling as part of an economic development effort in the North Country.

Gates saw several things in Randall he recognized as characteristics of a strong entrepreneur.

One is that she had a clear vision of what she wanted to do, Gates said.

She told InDepthNH she’d often daydream about waking up on a Saturday morning and riding bikes with her family to a neighborhood cafe for a bagel or pastry. That was the kind of place she wanted to create.

Then, there was determination. “She was willing to put in the effort, whatever it takes to get the job done,” Gates said.
She was also eager to seek expert help such as getting Hamelman to help with the bakery’s design — and working with Gates on the financial plan.

Careful with money

And she was careful with how she spent money, Gates said.

Randall got a loan from a local bank and the town of Lancaster dipped into its economic development fund for a $6,500 loan. It was paid off in the first year, a town official said.

But that fiscal caution had tripped Randall up and brought her to the verge of tears.

She’d purchased a used bread oven on the Internet. She was assured it worked, but there was no guarantee.

Since it was Cloutier’s building he’d stopped by for the installation. Now he and Randall were looking at $14,000 worth of junk.

Randall went to the phone, called the vendor and said: “Hey, my boss wants to talk to you. She handed the phone to Cloutier.

“I didn’t know what to say. I only wanted to cry,” she said.

Then, she went home.

“I was basically, crushed. I didn’t even open and I already lost my $14,000,” she said.

So, she had some wine, talked to her husband and began working on Plan B.

“I thought, if this is going to crush me, maybe I shouldn’t be running a business because things like this happen. So, I’m going to do it anyway. I will just do it differently.”

If she couldn’t bake bread, well, she could make pastries.

Ultimately she got a refund and bought another oven.

And in January 2015 The Polish Princess opened. “I don’t remember. I know people came. It was like one big blur,” she said.

What she does remember is loyal customers and wonderful support from the community and other businesses.

Now she’s got three employees — one is full time and the others are “almost full time.” She added some tables and now serves sandwiches.

And she has some advice for others considering taking the entrepreneurial leap.

First, have a really good product and make sure there is a market for it.

“Then, just follow your dream. Just do it.”

Martel and Lunn awarded membership in executive club

BERLIN — Sales Associates Matthew Martel and Christopher Lunn with Re/Max Northern Edge Realty, have been honored for their sales production with induction into the Re/Max Executive Club for top producers for closing at least $1.5 million in real estate transactions during 2016. "Both Matt and Chris worked diligently in delivering great service to their clients on a daily basis," said Carl Mercier primary broker of Re/Max Northern Edge Realty. Re/Max Northern Edge Realty is located on 232 Glen Ave. in Berlin. For more information call (603) 752-0003, or go online to

Executive ClubSales Associates Christopher Lunn and Matthew Martel with Re/Max Northern Edge Realty, have been honored for their sales production with induction into the Re/Max Executive Club for top producers. (COURTESY PHOTOS)