Our speaker on February 2, 2021 was Maryna Shuliakouskaya, President of the Kittery Rotary, COO of Acadia Management Group (Aroma Joe's and Subway), and owner of several Aroma Joe's locations, including the one in Gorham.  Maryna shared her thoughts on running a business in the middle of a pandemic and how she has applied the same principles to presiding over her club this year. 
Four cousins from Maine opened the first Aroma Joe’s at a single location in Rochester NH in 2000.  The first franchise location was opened in 2013. With headquarters in Portland, ME, Aroma Joe’s now has over 67 locations in Maine, New Hampshire, Mass and Pennsylvania. 
Aroma Joe’s is doing very well during the pandemic. Their business model with focus on drive-through is partially responsible for that.  In addition, the company has strong internal and external communications processes. Internally they are conducting meetings via Zoom, use a common online operating system (EOS), and all franchisees stay connected through What’s App. Each franchisee is responsible for their own location – personnel, inventory, etc. However, HQ and franchisees have helped each other through supply chain disruptions and assisting with fill-in personnel to limit closures.  They have also continued with product development and new product introductions that have boosted sales. An interesting statistic – over 40% of their sales are from energy drinks!
Community engagement is a core principle of Aroma Joe’s. For example, New England locations have offered free coffee for healthcare workers.  The idea came from the CEO, but each franchisee could opt in or out.  All locations chose to participate. Key to their success despite the pandemic has been connecting with their customers and connecting with the local community. This mindset leads to better business results and conveys their “brand promise”. Maryna trains new franchisees and her first recommendation to them is to join Rotary to get involved in their community.
Maryna is originally from Belarus, hailing from a “small village” of less than ten thousand people. She is married with two daughters and is very excited about both her work and Rotary and her enthusiasm showed in her talk.