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A unique way to part with a business

Cloutiers look for someone to buy Admac

October 15, 2010
LITTLETON– Admac is for sale—to the right person.

Ray and Sarah Cloutier, owners of Admac Salvage, one of the area's most unique businesses, are looking for a person or couple to take over their business in the Tannery Marketplace on Saranac Street.

The Cloutiers feel so strongly about passing the business along to the persons most suited to the position that they are ready to work with them to find some way for them to pay for it.

"We're looking for someone to continue the tradition," Ray said.

For more than 15 years the Cloutiers have run their business out of the historic building, built in the 1880s to house the Saranac Glove Company. After leasing the space for five years, they bought the entire building in 2000. In doing so they found a way to reuse the old factory, a fitting corollary to their salvage business. Admac is an architectural salvage business, buying pieces from buildings throughout the area, mostly from structures built before 1960 and selling them to be reused.

"The material is better, Ray said. "You put a door from 1860 next to a door from 1960 and the older door is often in better shape despite all it has been through. They're usually better made."

Ray said the focus on the local economy makes Admac unique.

"We're a green business because we recycle material, we're strictly local and we're sustainable," Ray said. "We're also the most local business in Littleton. We buy 100 percent of our inventory in the Littleton area. We're truly community based."

Unlike other businesses who might order from a warehouse out of state, or even China, Admac only buys from locals. Admac buys salvage for a 50 mile radius from Littleton, including all of the North Country and the Northeast Kingdom of Vermont, Ray said.

"Some people think that shopping at Wal-Mart is shopping local because there's a store in Littleton," Ray said. "Only a small percentage of money spent there stays in the area."

Ray said Admac has bought material from schools, churches, libraries and homeowners. Each piece has a provenance that can be traced directly to a particular structure.

"The provenance of a piece is very important to some buyers," Ray said.

Some people from outside the area do buy salvaged items and they like to be able to say where a piece originated.

Though there is a big Internet market in architectural salvage the Cloutiers have deliberately kept their focus local, though they said they would not object to any successors expanding the business in that direction, Ray said.

The Cloutiers want someone to replace them who would share their vision of the business, especially the local focus. Their successors would take over Admac, while the Cloutiers would retain ownership of the building and management of the Tannery Marketplace. Ray said that alone is a fulltime job.

Ray said in a successor he is looking for a combination of things that can be invested, if not necessarily money then perhaps knowledge of architecture combined with energy, knowledge of carpentry, perhaps experience as a contractor, and time to learn the business.

The skills needed for the job are varied and include not just retail skills but knowledge of period architecture, antiques, an ability to assess potential material and be able to negotiate successful deals, Ray said.

Ray said he and his wife are willing to examine any offer to keep their business in the Tannery Marketplace and in the hands of the right person, including taking someone on similar to an apprenticeship until he or she was able to arrange "buy-in" options to purchase the business.

Eventually the Cloutiers would consider selling the entire historic structure, which is the second building on the site of what was once the Littleton Woolen Mill before it became Saranac Gloves, which didn't close until 1960.

For now they are concentrating on finding new hands to take over the helm of Admac.

Littleton Chmber
Varney Smith
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