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Biz Beat: New England Motor Freight closes in N.E.

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Happening this week around the county …

New England Motor Freight employees at the North East terminal located at 3 Center Drive will be out of a job soon as the national truck company goes out of business.

On Feb. 11, NEMF and 10 affiliates voluntarily filed Chapter 11 bankruptcy in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the District of New Jersey, citing debt in the tens of millions. The company intends to use bankruptcy “to facilitate an orderly wind-down of its operations,” according to a statement it released the same day.

“We have worked hard to explore options for New England Motor Freight, but the macro-economic factors confronting this industry are significant,” said Vincent Colistra, a senior managing director with Phoenix Management Services Inc. and chief restructuring officer for NEMF, in the statement.

Phoenix Management Services is serving as the company’s financial and restructuring advisor.

When reached by the Whig, company officials declined to comment. However, a copy of a letter sent to employees announcing the liquidation was obtained by the Whig.

“No one is more devastated than our Chairman Myron ‘Mike’ Shevell and his family,” reads the Feb. 11 letter signed by Thomas W. Connery, NEMF president and chief operating officer of the New Jersey-based company.

“The costs of running an asset based trucking company have soared; with labor and benefits consuming an ever larger portion of revenue. Add in the high cost of equipment, a severe industry shortage of drivers, ever increasing regulations and tolls, technology investments and the overall risk environment of our business,” the letter reads.

Connery said the conclusion was drawn that it “does not make sense to continue operations to support a business in which our margins continue to shrink, thereby resulting in significant financial loss.”

Owned by the Shevell family since in 1977, NEMF operated 40 terminals in the U.S. and Puerto Rico. On its own website NEMF described itself as “one of the most financially stable regional carriers in the Northeast.” As a less-than-truckload carrier, NEMF combined several client loads onto one truck for delivery.

According to media reports from other terminals, employee numbers ranged from a few dozen to hundreds. Cecil County and local workforce officials do not yet have a count on the number of impacted employees here.

The story may not be over for NEMF, however, as MKLLC Law, a New York-based law firm, has opened a class action lawsuit against the company for violating the federal WARN Act and state wage laws.


The greater Elkton area was also hit by the announcement of closures of some businesses in the past week.

Abby Normal Tattoo Shop closed Feb. 14 after more than eight years in business at 1176 Elkton Road near the Cecil County line in Newark, Del. Company officials announced the closure the day before on its Facebook page, indicating that there was no word on when or if a new location was forthcoming.

Meanwhile, Reuters reported Friday that Payless ShoeSource is filing for bankruptcy and going-out-of-business sales are already underway at its 2,300 U.S. stores, including the Big Elk Mall location in Elkton. Payless had filed bankruptcy once before, coming out of receivership last year with its $800 million in debt reduced by half.


The county will reportedly see the opening of three new businesses in coming months though.

A Mattress Firm location is expected to open by June 1 at 722 E. Pulaski Highway in Elkton, near the intersection of Delaware Avenue and U.S. Route 40, in the Shoppes at Elkton plaza next to Aspen Dental.

Meanwhile, a Vietnamese restaurant is moving in to 111 Northeast Plaza in North East, where Empire Japanese Restaurant used to operate.

Finally, Elkton could be getting another Dunkin’ Donuts if all the permits and plans are approved with the town. This store will be located off Belle Hill Road in between the Taco Bell/KFC and Hampton Inn.

There is currently a DD franchise in the Big Elk Mall in Elkton, as well as ones in North East and Perryville. There is also one directly over the state line in Newark, Del. — less than 2 miles from the proposed site for the new franchise.


There will be a party in Chesapeake City on Saturday when Bayheads Brewing Company and Chesapeake Bay Coffee Co. introduce Nighttime Dredger, a beer brewed by Bayheads using Chesapeake Bay’s coffee.

Charlie Copeland said he’ll tap the keg at noon at his brewery, located at 2525 Augustine Herman Highway.

“We roast the coffee for the beer here,” said Chris Mullins, owner of the coffee shop located at 130 S. Main St. in North East. “Charlie already knew what kind of coffee he needed.”

Mullins is following a trend in the craft beer community.

“Coffee stouts are pretty popular,” Mullins said, adding the trick is finding the right ingredients.

Copeland brewed test batches until he found the right combination.

“We do a 5- to 10-gallon size just to test a beer recipe,” Copeland said, explaining that once the right mix was found then 6 barrels were processed, or about 186 gallons. “None were really bad. It was just about finding the one we liked best and fine tuning it.”

Nighttime Dredger is an homage to what Copeland describes as “oyster pirates,” who would poach the beds belonging to other oystermen for about 100 years starting in the 1950s.

“Chris’s logo is a pirate and we wanted to do something related to the bay,” Copeland said.

It’s not the first collaboration with local business. Copeland also brews with products from Cochran’s Bees and Berries and is always on the lookout for new opportunities. Mullins agrees.

“We all want to work together ... bring the best product,” he said.

The celebration will include beer specials, discounts on growler fill ups and live music from 4 to 7 p.m. by Ken Miller.


Speaking of coffee, Rise N Grind Cafe, located at 8 E. Main St. in Rising Sun, is now selling signature brand coffee by the pound for $16.99. While that’s a 16-ounce bag of whole beans, owner Angie Vanderhoef said she will gladly ground the beans for you if needed.


Nominations for the Harland Graef Quality Award, instituted by Union Hospital’s Performance Improvement and Patient Safety Committee, are now being accepted.

This award is in memory of Harland Graef, a tireless proponent of patient safety, education and quality.

“Harland was always one to ask if our actions are in the best interest of the patient. He had a passion for education and the health and well-being of the people of Cecil County,” the hospital said in announcing this year’s award program. “This award is given to a person or group who exemplifies Harland’s dedication and commitment to the importance of making health and wellness a priority. Recipients of this award serve as outstanding role models for those working to enhance the health of Cecil County through education, quality and safety actions.”

Community members are invited to nominate an individual or group that promotes the health and well-being of the Cecil County community. The award is based on contributions made in calendar year 2018.

Visit Union Hospital’s website,, to download the nomination form. Nominations are due by March 22.


Farmers who inject manure into their cropland to lower the risk of nutrient runoff and to reduce odors may be able to get grants to cover those costs through the Maryland Department of Agriculture.

MDA is offering cost-share assistance up to $45 per acre, based of the maximum application of 6,000 gallons per acre. Manure hauling grants are also available. The grants are being administered by the Maryland Agricultural Water Quality Cost-Share program.

For more information on eligibility and applications, contact the Cecil Soil Conservation District office in Elkton at 410-398-4411.


Care9 Redesign Home Staging in Havre de Grace has taken its business to the digital age, offering e-design services online. In business for a year, Care9 Redesign has been offering its expertise to Cecil and Harford counties in home staging and color consultation. Now with its e-design services the company can help anyone anywhere by starting at the website:

Owner Karen Knelb can devise a video tour of your house for sale, rental or other property, which can be viewed online by potential customers. Knelb is certified by the Real Estate Staging Association through its Home Staging Resource program.

Knelb can also be reached at 443-502-0449.

Business Beat is a weekly column on business happenings in and around Cecil County. If interested in having your business featured in this column, contact Jane Bellmyer at or 443-245-5007.

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