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A Classic small business story
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Overview Transcript Case Study Video
Lake Chelan
Views of Lake Chelan
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Reed's Marine
Lake Chelan
PO Box 474
Manson, Washington 98831


Dear Hattie and Bruce:

Wow, you've got me! A friend suggested your website and television program and I have spent hours going through story after story. I've spent so much time with you that you seem like old friends. My husband and I get so much from reading and listening to other people's stories. We all have the same kinds of problems!

We own a boat dealership on Lake Chelan in central Washington. You'll have to come out for a visit; it's truly God's country! The lake is one of the most pristine in the country. It is just gorgeous and huge -- over 50 miles long, some say 80 miles! You can imagine that we have a great tourism business in the summer vacation months. And, then it slows down, and down, and, well, it's cold this time of year. I've been thinking about those folks in your show about State of Maine¹ where they are marketing all over the world. It sure is difficult for us to think about how we would expand our business beyond the wonderful horizons from the lake, sunrises while fishing in the early morning, and wonderful sunsets from out in the middle of our lake on our boat (it can be so quiet).*


My husband, Randy, started Reed Shoreline Corporation when he was about 18 years old. He started by selling and installing boat lifts on the lake to homeowners. After about six years of that he added another division to the business, renting boats and personal watercraft. He steadily grew the business and moved into an actual office space! In 2001, we decided to become a boat dealer for a brand that had impressed us as part of the rental fleet we had built. When we made this decision, many people in our small community said we were crazy, how would a boat dealership make it in such a small town?

After only a couple years of being a dealer, everyone was blown away at the number of boats we were moving. So, we decided to add more and now we are working on branding issues. Thanks again for great insights from so many episodes.

We are now d/b/a Reed's Marine.

A good building in our town came up for rent, so we took it and put in a bunch of retail space. We are now going to get a first option to buy (Thank you Fess Parker² on the Study Guide Point #1).

We are surprised at how fast the business has grown, and I think it has a lot to do with Randy's personal relations with the people on this lake. We have the boat lift division, the rental division, the dealership and the marine supplies and parts. We like to consider ourselves the one-stop shop for boaters. And we are!

(continued next column)


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WATCH TELEVISION THAT TEACHES
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More Mail From Viewers
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1. Meet Marty Richert, Georgia who was a viewer from Binghamton, NY, moved down into Georgia's countryside, and is now a regular visitor on the web.
2. Meet Kathy Baldwin of New York; she said "I just watched this episode on Specialty Cheese. It was fantastic! Coincidentally, I just completed an accelerated Marketing Communications undergraduate class. I could have saved $1,275 because the same concepts were explained in this show! I will take some time this week and review more of your course offerings and view the TV listings for more of your work. Thanks!
3. Meet Alan Preston, Pennsylvania a viewer who especially enjoyed the episode about leadership.
4. Meet many other wonderful people, just a few of our favorites from throughout the years.
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This fall we purchased an unused apple storage shed across the street from our store. We have converted it into boat storage and a service shop.

We have long-time boatlift customers who have bought boats from us just because they like working with Randy and trust him, and now we can service and store their boats during the off-season as well.

In our valley, many businesses are seasonal and that can be the downfall of many of them. We have found a way to offer what our customers need and be a year-round, full- time business. Most people around here think that is a huge success in itself. Randy and I share in the running of the business, him in sales and service and myself in office operations and bookkeeping. I am always looking for better ways to make things run more smoothly in the store/office.

So we get technology and we'll be getting as much as we can afford. We're trying to take those eight steps to become an e-culture³. We have Verizon's DSL at the office. Next step will be to get the website on our own little server on that DSL line. We are interested in purchasing a new retail management program to help cut back a lot of unnecessary steps in day to day work, as well as keep better track of our inventory and our customers.

I would say that we are probably coming up
on Step 7 within your list.


I want to thank you for your time and the fantastic information on your website, especially for us two who have no schooling in business.

Keep up your great work!


Sincerely,

Johanna Reed
Reed's Marine


PS. Come for a visit sometime. If it's winter, we can go snowmobiling during the day (if it snows again!) and have dinner at Campbell's Inn. The Festival of Lights is wonderful. Apple blossoms in May are breathtaking.*
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  Editor's Footnotes: Helpful episodes
1. Besides Johanna, many other people responded to Marketing from a Distance. Eleven small business owners talk about how they keep selling after the tourists have gone home.

2. We also got thanks from PBS viewers who enjoyed seeing an old friend on the episode titled, Wine Country. Fess Parker aka Daniel Boone and Davy Crockett, shared what he learned earlier from his father and Walt Disney; that is, "...buy real estate." That's good advise for us all.


3. There are many references throughout the website to a box of options titled, Eight steps to an e-culture where we tell everybody, "You have to have broadband high-speed access for everyone in your business."

*After writing such a letter, we had to go for a visit! In fact, we found a local camera fellow and got this testimony about their recent adoption of Microsoft's Retail Management System.

Where is Lake Chelan?
 
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