In his first month in the compressed air business back in 1985, Paul Gelinas had nine machines at various gas stations and convenience stores in Maine. They took in a total of $172, and he had expenses of roughly $225.
"I was already starting to think that maybe this wasn't a very good idea," he said with a detectable note of understatement.
But the entrepreneurial Gelinas stayed with what was then a fairly new concept and eventually turned the math around in rather dramatic fashion.
Today, his venture, Chicopee-based Air Express, has more than 10,000 machines in dozens of states, with annual revenues exceeding $10 million. Gelinas is, by all accounts, the king of the …