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    Wednesday, May 22, 2024

    Two Sisters Shipping in the business of customer service

    Owner Kim Maxson laughs as she works with her son Jeff at Two Sisters Shipping & Business Center on Bridge Street in Groton on Wednesday, Sept. 27, 2023. (Sarah Gordon/The Day)
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    Owner Kim Maxson poses for a portrait at Two Sisters Shipping & Business Center on Bridge Street in Groton on Wednesday, Sept. 27, 2023. (Sarah Gordon/The Day)
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    Owner Kim Maxson logs shipments on the computer at Two Sisters Shipping & Business Center on Bridge Street in Groton on Wednesday, Sept. 27, 2023. (Sarah Gordon/The Day)
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    Groton ― Kim Maxson, the owner of Two Sisters Shipping and Business Center, always tells employees that “we sell customer service.”

    Some people may feel overwhelmed by the thought of shipping items, and Two Sisters Shipping and Business Center tries “to take the thought out of shipping” for its customers, she said.

    “We step in, and we just do everything,” Maxson said, as her eyes lit up and she smiled while talking about the business during a recent interview.

    Sun streamed in from the large glass windows in the store, which was equipped with large rolls of bubble wrap, boxes and other shipping supplies, printing paper in an array of colors, and a computer system with a program that determines how much it costs for each of the shipping services.

    Two Sisters Shipping and Business Center has two stores ― in Jewett City and in the City of Groton ― that provide shipping, including through UPS, FedEx, DHL and the United States Postal Service. Their other services include printing, scanning, and notarizing documents. The business also runs a freight service and packages and ships items at a warehouse.

    Maxson and her sister, Lynn Hardell, built the business over many years, and now their children are helping out.

    In 2000, Maxson and Hardell started a freight business and rented space in the Slater Mill in Jewett City. When people stopped in to ask what they were doing, the two sisters thought about ways they could capture some of that local business, Maxson said.

    They sought advice from a friend’s cousin who operated a shipping store in Florida, bought their first computer and set it up ― and Two Sisters Shipping and Business Center grew out of their efforts.

    “As the changes come, we learn,” Maxson said. “We figure stuff out. We ask for help when we need it. We’ve got a lot of really good contacts that have helped us over the years, and it’s fun.”

    Maxson said their mother, Nora Walden, was the foundation of the business. She baby-sat her and Hardell’s young children in the back of the Jewett City store and took them on day trips, such as to watch boats and trains in New London.

    “She’d keep them busy while we kind of got the business rolling, so it was definitely a family effort,” said Maxson.

    She and Hardell, who left the business on good terms when an opportunity came up after the recession and is in the freight industry, remain close and continue to talk about the business.

    Maxson’s husband, Roger Maxson, and his business partner, Chris Clarke, own a computer repair business, Helpdesk Xpress, that assists the stores when they need help with their computers.

    Today, Maxson’s son, Jeff, now 22, is a manager of both stores, and Hardell’s son, Luke Hardell, 21, works at the business. Maxson’s daughter, Samantha Maxson, 22, also plans to help with the business.

    Maxson said they hopefully will be the next generation of the business.

    Maxson said she and Roger, who would pick up their kids from her mother and feed them dinner many nights when she was working late at the Jewett City store, recently were talking about how their children saw, and can appreciate, the hard work it took to keep the business going.

    She said her son Jeff loves the entrepreneurial side of the business. Her daughter Samantha recently started her own business called Cold Nose Creamery that sells dog ice cream.

    Jeff said he remembers times years ago when the business was struggling and his mother was always working, with late nights at the Jewett City store.

    Now she’s grown the business into a bigger entity.

    “She’s pretty dang impressive,” he said.

    Jeff, who was packing a box to get it ready to ship at the Groton store on a late September morning, said his mother, who has 20 years of experience with the business, taught him how to pack boxes so everything arrives safely.

    In 2018, Maxson opened up the Groton location. She said a longtime employee, Maira Fowler, works the at Jewett City store, which made it possible for the company to open the store on Bridge Street. Another employee, Corrine Ego, fills in whenever the stores need help.

    Maxson said she loves the Groton location near the Gold Star Bridge.

    “The people are awesome,” Maxson said. “We’ve been really well received, and we’re always getting new customers.”

    She said she also loves that all three businesses in the commercial strip where the store is located are owned by women.

    Maxson, who lives in and grew up in Griswold, also enjoys the conversations she’s had with many of her former teachers who are now customers at the Jewett City store.

    Maxson said she’s thankful her sister pulled her into the business years ago. Maxson said she’s taken what her sister showed her way back and expanded on it, and she’s really interested in the business.

    “It’s always a challenge. There’s always something different going on,” she said. “Most days are never the same.”

    She said being a woman in the freight business, where there are a lot of men, is a challenge. She said even today, if she calls up to ask for rates, sometimes she’ll be well received by the men she’s talking to, while other times men will treat her like she doesn’t know what she’s doing and over-explain, or occasionally “try to get things by her.”

    She said the biggest challenge for the business has been the economy over the last couple of years, with customers squeezed tighter, and prices going up.

    But she said the job is rewarding.

    “It’s never going to be easy, but the payoff is awesome,” she said. “I feel a lot of pride.”

    “It’s fun. It’s stressful,” Maxson added about owning her own business. “Good days are really good. Bad days are really bad because it’s you ― everything is on you. It’s up to you to meet the payroll. It’s up to you to make sure things are getting done, and you’re just spread very thin, but it’s fun, and I would always prefer doing this over any job I’ve ever had, and I’ve had fun jobs over the years.”

    She said her advice to other women in business is to keep going and find new avenues if something isn’t working.

    Maxson said when times got tough, she focused on how the store right down the road from her children’s school allowed her to be close to them, if they needed anything, and the flexibility to volunteer in their classrooms.

    “As hard as it gets, try to find one bright spot and push forward, because we’ve gone through some really hard times over the years,” she said.

    Looking back, she wonders how did she do it, “but it was always in my head to keep moving forward,” she said.


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