Business briefs


Holden Insurance to Join The Richards Group

Holden Insurance has been acquired by The Richards Group effective January 1. The entire Holden staff will remain at their current locations in Rutland and Middlebury and will continue to operate under the name Holden Insurance. The partnership with The Richards Group will benefit clients by ensuring that decisions and service remain local for years to come.

"The Richards Group and Holden Insurance have had a collaborative relationship for many years and we feel very fortunate that the Principals at Holden decided The Richards Group was the best fit to continue the excellent work they have done over the decades," said Peter Richards, vice president of The Richards Group. "We're thrilled to be a part of the vibrant business communities in Rutland and Middlebury."

"When we considered what firm was best for our clients, employees and the communities we work in, we knew The Richards Group was the right fit. Holden Insurance shares a lot of history with The Richards Group as leading insurance firms in Vermont and we have similar priorities and values," commented Paul Gladding, President of Holden Insurance. "In addition, I think our clients will benefit from the new risk management resources, insurance markets and technologies that The Richards Group will make available, along with their employee benefit and retirement plan expertise."

The Richards Group, headquartered in Brattleboro, Vermont, has provided local Insurance, Employee Benefits and Retirement Plan solutions to clients throughout Vermont, New Hampshire and Massachusetts since 1867. The firm was named one of the 2016 "Best Places to Work in Vermont" by Vermont Business Magazine and the Vermont Chamber of Commerce. For more information about the firm and its capabilities, please visit


Heidi Reece to Join The Richards Group

The Richards Group welcomes Heidi Reece as the newest member to our Employee Benefits department in the role of Senior Account Manager. Heidi lives in the Dorset area and will round out our geographic presence being based out of our Manchester Vermont office. Heidi will be integral in supporting a growing client base as well as adding strength and expertise to our team in the areas of individual life and disability.

"We are very excited to add Heidi to our Benefits team," said Tom Scull, Vice President of Employee Benefits at The Richards Group. "Each one of us possesses a unique strength on the team that collectively works to create a powerful support system for the client work we do. Heidi will bring employee benefits expertise and local service to our Manchester and Bennington clients."

Heidi is an active member of her community, enjoys competitive running, and is the assistant soccer coach at Burr & Burton Academy. She can be reached at 802-254-6016 or by e-mail at


Smith promoted to assistant vice president at Walpole Savings

Savings Bank of Walpole recently promoted Jeff Smith to assistant vice president and treasurer.

Smith joined the bank in 2005 as a financial accountant and was promoted in 2009 to the position of assistant treasurer and then in early 2013 to his current role of treasurer. As treasurer, Smith is involved in all aspects of financial management, reporting and planning by the bank and is also responsible for the bank's funds management activities including investments and asset/liability management. He is a graduate of Keene State College with a BA in Economics and Franklin Pierce College with a certificate in Accounting. He resides in Keene with his two sons.

"We're proud to congratulate Jeff on a well-deserved promotion to AVP and Treasurer," said Gregg Tewksbury, President and CEO for Savings Bank of Walpole. "He is a dedicated employee and a go-to person for many departments while also bringing exceptional accounting skills along with a wide depth and breath of knowledge to his role."


Slip covers, a lost art

Melinda Coombs has been creating custom slip covers in the Deerfield Valley for over 35 years. Despite our increasingly "throwaway society," more and more people are realizing the value of recycle as opposed to replace.

"That's definitely where a slip cover comes in," said Coombs. "We're not talking elastic and bows. We are talking custom fit."

Coombs prides herself on the "upholstered look" that she is able to produce. She calls it "Clothing for Furniture." Coombs comes to customers to drape and pin on-site, that way you are never without your furniture. It takes a few hours and she returns in a few weeks with her creation that makes the old new again. You get to keep your worn in cozy couch (or chair), but you get to make it yours.

Coombs is also available to consult on window treatments, bedding and fabric choices.

As the owner of Beyond Imagination, clients have the option to meet with Coombs at the shop where she has an array of fabric swatches, as well as samples of her slipcovers. She is also willing to go on site to consult, measure and give yardage so that clients can choose their fabrics anywhere they' would like.

"It is so wonderful when I deliver a finished product, and often times I leave with a smile and a hug from my client," said Coombs. "I love what I do. I look at it as a work of art, and unfortunately it is becoming a lost art. I hope to continue to create as long as I can as I love to design with the client to create a one of a kind piece."


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