Our roundup of the latest Wellesley MA business news:
A lighting company called Wolfers is making the move from its Waltham showroom in June to Wellesley Square come fall. The business has not specified where in Wellesley Square it will land, but choices are plenty.
Established in 1931, Wolfers offers residential and commercial services. It joins Neena’s in Linden Square and Wellesley Antique Lighting on Washington Street as among local choices. Patti Bros closed its Wellesley Square shop a few years back.
“Our new showroom is designed to spark inspiration and illustrate key lighting concepts, with a selection of decorative lighting from our favorite manufacturers and an immersive new architectural lighting studio,” Wolfers’ marketing material reads. In addition to lighting, shades and other products are on the menu.
Wellesley has hired yet another consultant, this one to survey merchants about Wellesley Square and Central Street infrastructure & amenities.
The town seeks to evaluate everything from sidewalks to crosswalks to ornamental lights and pedestrian signals. Bricks, benches, and signs are also within the scope of the survey (One easy question: “Are there too many signs?” YES!)
The evaluation is part of the town’s broader efforts to understand and improve its retail spaces.
Our roundup of the latest Wellesley MA business news:
B. Good, the restaurant chain that boasts of healthy offerings from salads to smoothies to burgers, is closing its Wellesley Square location next to the fire station after 4-plus years in the spot. Previously, it was home to Boloco.
You’d think maybe 4 years in town might warrant a fond farewell to customers. Rather, a standard-issue corporate notice on the doors of the restaurant invite you to visit other local B. Good sites or order online.
The Central Plaza stretch is emblematic of the empty storefront dilemma in the Square, as it now has about as many empty spaces as occupied ones. The Gap cleared out earlier this year at the other end of the plaza. Let’s hope it won’t be long before newcomers arrive.
If during the past year (or even the past decade) you somehow accumulated a lot of stuff that now just has to go, Call and Haul, a Wellesley-based service owned and operated by Wellesley resident John O’Toole is ready to help. Besides clean-outs, Cal and Haul takes care of recycling/junk removal; deliveries and moving; and pickups. The company provides free estimates. From there, the company will remove, recycle, deliver, or pick up your items in a “contact-free” environment and as safely and efficiently as possible. As part of their internal quality control program, workers always wipe down surrounding surfaces and sweep and/or vacuum the immediate work area when the job is completed. Payment is not accepted until after a walk-though with the client.
Call and Haul’s route 9 location (near Great Wok) is a jumping-off point for the service. They cover dozens of Massachusetts towns, cleaning out, picking up, and delivering to your home, second homes, your kid’s apartment, your preferred charity, your off-site storage space, and more.
The Washington Trust Mortgage has announced that Roger Lack of Wellesley has been hired as a mortgage loan officer at the company’s Walnut Street office. Lack joins the firm with more than 8 years of experience as a licensed loan officer, and more than 30 years total in sales. Most recently, he was an executive mortgage banker at William Raveis Real Estate.
For several years, Lack has been a regular volunteer for Rebuilding Together ® Boston, working on projects to renovate and revitalize the homes of residents who are unable to afford necessary repairs and upkeep.
SPONSORED POST: Teri Adler of Pinnacle writes about today’s white-hot real estate market:
A frantic call came in from my colleague earlier this week, and she said “The market is slowing down; instead of 16 offers sellers are looking at only 4!” The statement almost made me laugh. Even after all this time, the real estate market still seems like an alternate universe to me. The pace, the emotions, and the extremes are all so draining and hard to keep up with. The spring market is typically a tiring sprint, but this added layer of overall craziness adds even more complexity.
And it’s not just our bubble that’s experiencing this hot market of course, it’s nationwide. Almost daily, my friends and family send me articles evaluating the market. We can continue to put forth our ideas on why the market is what it is, but the hard data is what’s most impressive.
These charts nicely demonstrate the supply of houses nationally and the rising prices. This year is expected to be as stunning as 2020.
I think it helps when we take a step back and say, “Wow, this is happening everywhere.” A client moving to Ohio told me that in 2019, houses there would sit for months and months and you truly could not give them away. Now there is an extreme shortage of houses in the Cleveland suburbs, and in turn, there is nothing to buy. My clients are unable to sell their home here in Wellesley, because there is no place for them to buy in Ohio. This vicious cycle is why so few houses are available.
Here are some of the highlights from Monday’s Wellesley Board of Health meeting (see Wellesley Media recording):
Neither the town nor Wellesley Public Schools system reported any COVID cases this past week. WPS Head of Nursing Linda Corridan said this was the second straight week for the schools without a positive case. More than 400 students are scheduled to get vaccines at a clinic at Wellesley High School this week, and will return for a second dose in mid-June.
The Board of Health recently questioned whether Wellesley Public Schools should continue with its COVID-19 pool testing for the last few weeks of the school year in light of falling case numbers and the fact that so many faculty and staff (and increasingly, students) are vaccinated. It’s not like doing the testing is free. But it sounds like WPS will finish out the year with testing.
The hope is that it won’t be necessary come the new school year, and Corridan did say the testing will not be done for the extended summer program. “We’re hoping we will not be in a place where we need to do testing in the fall,” she said.
The Board of Health emphasized its desire to work closely with the school system on procedures before classes begin again in the fall, and a plea was made as well to give parents a say in how masking and other protocols might be handled at that time.
Wellesley resident and Tufts Medical Center Dr. Shira Doron said that case and patient numbers as well as vaccination take-up are looking good, but that anxiety is rising among those concerned as the state’s face covering order is rescinded come May 29. The town is redoubling efforts to let residents and town employees know that the Health Department is available to help people with their mental and social health as the state and town reopen, said Wellesley Health Director Lenny Izzo, whose team is also very busy handling an increase in requests by camps and other programs looking to expand their offerings in light of fewer COVID-19 restrictions.
Parents and other adults are invited to take part in a Health Department online program discussing teen depression on June 8 at 7pm (the event has been rescheduled from May 24). Join a free webinar and learn from a clinician about how to recognize the signs of depression and support our teenagers. Register with the Health Department in advance.
With the state’s Emergency Order being lifted on June 15, expanded outdoor dining is supposed to end 60 days later. But both Izzo and Select Board member Beth Sullivan Woods said there’s an “appetite” in town across town departments and the community for more outdoor dining, and that if the state doesn’t come up with a solution that the town could.
“We are looking at what we can do as an interim solution and what we can do as a longer-term solution,” Sullivan Woods said. “A number of us believe [expanded outdoor dining] is here to stay,” she said.
Separately, the Nourishing Wellesley program backed by state funds and coordinated by the Newton-Needham Regional Chamber, Wellesley Health Department, and Wellesley Housing Authority started in March and will have served 1,115 meals to those in need by early June. About $40K was spent with local restaurants, providing a win for both residents and local businesses. Volunteers, including from the Wellesley Service League and Wellesley High Key Club, have supported the effort.
Another state grant could be on its way this fall to extend the program.
If there’s one thing I’ve learned about Bill Seibel during the many years we’ve crossed paths from Wellesley’s ballfields to cocktail parties is that he can tell a story. He seemingly has an endless supply, with each more interesting or entertaining than the next. So it didn’t surprise me when he added “author” to his LinkedIn profile in announcing the launch of his first book, Press Go – Lessons Earned by a Serial Entrepreneur. He describes the launch as “intended to be a business book that’s fun to read.”
I haven’t had a chance to read the book yet, but I did shoot Bill a handful of questions to get a bit of background, a sneak peek of the book, and his advice for new grads.
If you’re interested in ordering a copy, and you live in Wellesley, Bill’s going to donate 100% of royalties from those sales until the end of May to Wellesley Friendly Aid.
By the way, the last time I formally interviewed Bill was 10 year ago when he was launching a company called Mobiquity with headquarters in Wellesley at the time.
When did you know you wanted to be an entrepreneur?
I grew up in a coal mining town southwest of Pittsburgh. My grandfather was a coal miner, my father was a steelworker—and the 6 of us all lived together in a 2-bedroom company house. Almost everyone I knew as a child was either a steel worker or a coal miner. I was twelve years old when I first heard the word “entrepreneur.” At the time, my mother was competing in a weekly Pittsburgh Post-Gazette puzzle contest where the editors scrambled the letters of an occupation. I remember the contest’s final week. Sitting with my mother at the kitchen table, we opened the newspaper and saw “tuepenerernr” staring at us from the last page of the business section. “Entrepreneur,” she declared without hesitation. “What does an entrepreneur do?” I asked, not quite pronouncing it correctly. “They have an idea that they turn into a company and make millions of dollars doing it,” Mom replied. It was clear to me that entrepreneurship would be a better path than working in the coal mines or steel mills. But it wasn’t at all clear how I could get there.
What was your first startup, and how did that come about?
After grad school, I joined a Fortune 100 chemical and industrial gas company. I was there for 12 years, did very well, became Director of both Materials Management and Information Technology, and learned a lot. But I longed for a chance to make more impact on a business than an IT executive could have at [such a large] company. I hoped I’d find my passion in the world of startups and left to join McCormack & Dodge as general manager of one of their businesses. Everything was so different! And so much better! The energy, the passion for the corporate mission, the feeling that we could make
decisions and get things done, and of course the beer kegs in the lobby that were tapped at 6 p.m. every Thursday and Friday—it was just as the twelve-year-old “tuepenerernr” had pictured life at a startup!
My impression is that most of your startups are not household names. My guess is in business school you hear lots of case studies about well-known companies and that’s where all the focus is, but the reality is that most people wind up starting and working for companies less well known but that are successes in their own right. Any thoughts on this?
There are a lot of startups, and their track records are not very good. Only 1% ever get funded. Of that 1%, close to 90% die are become the walking dead, And only 1% become Unicorns–startups that reach a value of more than $1B. Of the 12 million companies launched in the US during the last twenty years, only 145 are unicorns. Although perhaps not household names, I’ve been blessed that I’ve played a role in startups that had an impact. McCormack & Dodge was a pioneer and the early leader in Enterprise Resource Planning Software (ERP), a field that became dominated by household names like SAP and Oracle. Index created a new industry when they launched Excelerator in 1984–the first PC- based computer-aided software engineering tool. It was named Software Product of the Year in 1987, and Index Technology went public in 1988. Cambridge Technology Partners created the fixed-price/fixed-timeframe consulting model, was named the #2 IPO in 1992, and reached a market cap of more than $5B. ZEFER followed in its footsteps until the market crash of 2000–growing to $136M revenue in only 18 months–the fastest growing professional services firm ever. That was followed by Demantra, a predictive analytics company that paved the way for the Sales and Operations Planning industry. Soon after we won the award for the top business turnaround in the United States we were acquired by Oracle. More recently, Mobiquity was named the fastest growing company in all of New England, New England’s Top Small Business and, my favorite, One of the 3 Coolest Technology Companies on the Planet! So, for me, it’s not about creating a “brand name.” I get a huge professional high from building something new and important. A company that provides significant values to the businesses, consumers and/or patients that it works with. A company that creates professional opportunities for employees that substantially contributes to their personal and career ambitions. And if the company can drive innovation and overturn conventional thinking by redefining an industry–that’s the biggest high a CEO can get!
Let’s localize this. What could Wellesley do to encourage more entrepreneurship in town, and how might that benefit the community?
If you look at what makes entrepreneurship flourish in the Silicon Valley, New York and yes, in Boston, it’s having a network of experienced entrepreneurs that are willing to help those that are contemplating, or just beginning their journey. A huge number of experienced and successful entrepreneurs live in Wellesley. I’d suggest organizing a platform that could bring those groups together. For example, at Mobiquity we worked with Wellesley High School students to help them explore their startup ideas. Their mentors enjoyed it and the students learned a lot.
Your book’s about your lessons learned as an entrepreneur: Can you sneak preview a couple?
The most important entrepreneurial lessons are life lessons as well. I’ll start with 7:
1. Always do the right thing. Even if the other party doesn’t.
2. Both in business and in life, the simpler plan is often better.
3. Don’t start a company unless it’s your passion. If you do what you love, success will follow.
4. The first step in doing something is believing you can do it. Never give up your dreams. The first step in achieving them is to believe that they’re possible.
5. Life, at times, will be a struggle. It takes courage to change directions—especially when things aren’t going too badly. Don’t be afraid to get out of your
comfort zone. The real measure of anyone’s ability to succeed is how good they are at executing Plan B—because Plan A seldom happens.
6. Make everyone feel special, and never let anyone down.
7. But my favorite advice came from a newspaper advertisement from none other than ABE Carpet Cleaners:
If you were chosen to give a commencement speech at a business school, what would you tell grads?
I’d tell them to not begin their careers by joining a startup. I benefited quite a lot from the training and developmental opportunities that I gained at the F100 company that I joined after I received my MBA. And the data supports that. The highest success rate for a new entrepreneur occurs for those in their 40’s and 50’s.