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CEO of Sea Bags, the designer and manufacturer of handmade items from recycled sails located on Custom House Wharf in Portland, Don Oakes, and president and COO Beth Shissler have been selected as U.S. Small Business Administration’s Maine Small Business Person of the Year.

The award is one of many announced by the SBA’s Maine District Office in its annual recognition of outstanding small business owners throughout the state. Nancy Strojny, who is chapter chair of SCORE in Portland, nominated both Oakes and Shissler for the award based on the continued growth of their business and the contributions they have made to the local community.

“Both Don and Beth have a deep commitment to creating sustainable economic impact in Maine. From local manufacturing to repurposing discarded sails, they represent the best of vision, innovation, and achievement,” says Strojny.



Oakes and Shissler surpassed various milestones this past year including growing their business to over 100 employees and opening 13 retail stores. Sea Bags has come a long way due to these two executives and they plan to continue growth in these areas.

Oakes and Shissler will also be considered for the National Small Business Person of the Year Award which will be announced at SBA’s National Small Business Week celebration, April 29-April 30. The winner will be selected from the 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, and Guam. The announcement will be made during an event in Washington, D.C., on April 30.

The SBA’s Maine District Office will recognize Oakes and Shissler at a local reception and awards presentation at the Hilton Garden Inn in Freeport on May 1.