A brother-sister duo of entrepreneurs from Nobleboro who own and run several businesses have brought their headquarters home, to an office on Route 1.
Ben and Emily Davis’ businesses include Portland Container Co., which rents portable storage containers and operates a storage facility at a former oil tank in South Portland; True Course Yachting, which provides custom finishing and hospitality management for yachts; and True Course Management Group, a holding company.
The siblings’ newest venture, OpBox, builds high-end, high-tech, weather-resistant structures for use as portable “pop-up” businesses, such as shops or offices. The Davises work with Gamage Shipyard, of South Bristol, to manufacture the structures.
After graduation from Lincoln Academy, the siblings took different paths to their business careers.
Emily Davis studied business management at Fisher College in Boston, graduating in 2011 before going on to work in New York as an e-commerce coordinator at Donna Karan, a clothing label. She returned to Maine to work as an online editor at Maine magazine and Maine Home + Design.
Ben Davis went to work in the marine industry, becoming a boat captain, managing the Biddeford Pool Yacht Club, and founding True Course Yachting in 2012. The business had offices in Belfast and Yarmouth prior to the move to Nobleboro.
“Em came on to help me run True Course Yachting and we decided to get into different industries,” Ben Davis said.
Ben Davis said the siblings run their businesses through True Course Management Group.
“The different brands and different sectors are complimentary to the things we are good at and compliment our interests,” he said.
Emily Davis described the containers available from Portland Container Co. as high-quality portable units, convenient for tenants in transition – downsizing, moving, or renovating. The containers are moved by flatbed truck.
In addition to portable storage units, the company offers indoor storage space for boats, classic cars, motorcycles, and RVs in the 10,000-square-foot converted oil tank in South Portland.
OpBox, meanwhile, focuses on the manufacture and sale of pop-up commercial spaces. The construction of an OpBox takes a few months, according to Emily Davis.
The business’s website – theopbox.com – shows six configurations of the boxes – for uses such as a retail pop-up shop or “mobile boutique,” a food truck or tasting room, an outdoor office, a workshop, or a booth at a trade show.
Emily Davis described the OpBox as an affordable and flexible solution for businesses in competitive markets.
The business customizes the structures to fit each customer’s needs “through collaborative design and a streamlined building process,” Emily Davis said in an email. “Costs are similarly flexible, as pricing depends on features, design, and other services, with both purchase and lease options.”
According to Emily Davis, the Newcastle raw bar Shuck Station used an unfinished OpBox to sell T-shirts and other merchandise in October.
Ben Davis said the OpBox containers, at 8 feet wide by 16 feet long, give small businesses a physical space without the substantial investment necessary to rent a traditional location.
“When we started in the container business, we started spending more time around them and everyone we talked to said they could live in there,” Ben Davis said.
The Davises said the business’s first customer was Portland’s Friends of Congress Square Park, a nonprofit that now utilizes its OpBox for more than 200 community programs a year.
Ben Davis said the relationship with Gamage Shipyard allows OpBox to draw on local boat-builders’ skills and gives the shipyard year-round work.
Emily Davis said the siblings’ different skill sets are a source of strength for their businesses.
She said she and her brother first returned to the area to care for their late father, Brian Davis, who died in 2017.
She said the siblings have other family in the Nobleboro and Waldoboro area, many of whom come from an entrepreneurial background. Their grandparents grew Hatch Well Drillers for 50 years.
Ben Davis said the two are excited to be back in the Midcoast, where other small businesses are starting and growing.
“There is a real resurgence of entrepreneurship in the Midcoast and we are happy to join the party,” Ben Davis said.
Ben Davis said the siblings have worked with SCORE, a nonprofit that works with the U.S. Small Business Administration to provide counseling and workshops for small businesses.
“They are really involved in Southern Maine and we want to help them grow a chapter in the Midcoast,” he said.
The Davises’ mother and stepfather, Lisa and John Bottero, co-own the Nobleboro Antique Exchange at 104 Route 1.
A portion of the building is now available for small-business office space. Called The Exchange, it offers build-to-suit space for prospective tenants. The Davises were the first tenants.
The siblings were honored by MaineBiz as two of 11 dynamic individuals who are changing Maine’s economy at the Next 2018 reception in Portland on Tuesday, Nov. 13.