Ovide Lamontagne listened to small businesspeople tell their stories during a stop at Turbocam in Barrington on the candidate’s NH jobs tour.

BARRINGTON – Republican Ovide Lamontagne took his New Hampshire Jobs Tour to Turbocam in Barrington on Wednesday, where he met with 15 small businesspeople to talk about job creation and improving the economy. The session was about 80% the candidate listening to the stories of the small businesspeople and 20% the candidate talking.

George Fredette and Paul Miller run an automotive repair shop in Barrington they opened in 2008, at the start of the recession. Their retail customers are “only getting done what they have to get done to keep it legal” as they try to extend the lifetime of their cars without buying a new one, Fredette said. The company struggles to find health insurance.

Long hours was a common theme. The owner of Dante’s Pasta in Barrington said that as a small businessman, “I don’t go golfing. I don’t go fishing because I go fishing every day – I put out a sign saying I’m open.” Dover resident and state senate candidate Phyllis Woods described her family’s flooring business: “You can work half-time – any 12 hours you want.” State Rep. Warren Groen – “the younger, hairier part of the Groen brothers” – echoed that, saying being self-employed with his brother, state Sen. Fenton Groen, in a construction business meant he could leave early and take the afternoon off whenever he wanted to: “You just have to start earlier.”

Jason Howard of Ross Furniture in Dover talked about the challenges his business faces. A hair salon owner with 18 employees talked about the differences between employees and those who rent booths in her shop. Ric Perrault of Evergreen RV in Rochester said he’d always wanted a place on Winnipesaukee. “I worked for someone else 20 years and I couldn’t get it that way,” Perrault said. Randy Bowen and his wife run a sausage stand outside the Rochester Home Depot.

Lamontagne fielded questions about why only two health insurers are active in the NH market. Lamontagne fingered mandates requiring community rating, which prevents health insurers from charging lower rates to healthier people and higher rates to people who pose greater insurance risks, including through personal behavior.

“That’s why we don’t have a Geico gecko offering to save us 15% on our health insurance if you give them 15 minutes” like we have in car insurance, Lamontagne said.

Lamontagne pointed to economic uncertainty, regulations, and health care costs as barriers to job creation.

Fergus@ferguscullen.com, August 2, 2012. Fergus is a Lamontagne supporter.