Kristin Porter

Cutler, Maine
CDFI: Coastal Enterprises
Loan type: Small business loan

Kristin Porter is from Cutler, Maine, a small fishing community down east. He grew up wanting to fish. "As a kid I was always around the wharves, trying to bug everybody that would take me out, just for the day." His parents urged him to go to college in Portland and study industrial technology. But, after three years, he decided what he really wanted was to go home to Cutler and fish. "I bought an old wooden boat and got started, and then worked my way up. I do cohogs in the summer time and in the winter time we do sea urchins and scallops."

Kristin quickly ran into the same problem that all his friends in the fishing community were complaining about- the necessity to sell to the middle man on the wharf, whose price was always as low as possible. Kristin got the idea that if he could get his own cooler and become a dealer himself, he could cut out the outside middle man and offer the local fishing community a much better deal. When he approached a bank, they wanted him to put up everything he had——his house and his boat——and they charged a very high rate of interest.

Fortunately, Kristin learned about CEI, a CDFI in Portland who works with coastal communities and fishermen to diversify their efforts and cut back on costs. "I got a loan through CEI to get a truck, and get a cooler certified through the state to be a wholesale dealer, so that I could package my own and ship them out. Just to do that you have to be a wholesale seafood dealer. So I did that."

Now, after a day out on the water, fishermen drive their catch to Kristin’s cooler, which is right next to his house. There they get their clams and sea urchins weighed and receive a decent price for their efforts. Kristin employs several local guys to help him out, and is providing a valuable service to his community. "Guys I've grown up with, we can relate. They know that I’m not in it to make big dollars and give them a bad rap. I try to use them right and they try to use me right."

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