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Key Idea: Be Where Your Customers Are

Gil Harper, founder of Weatherend heirloom-quality outdoor furniture, understands that you have to market according to the tastes and economics of your customers.       More...

Key Question:


Gil Harper is confident. He happily reports that he makes the best outdoor furniture in the world and that it is made to last 100 years.

What would happen if you had that attitude?

This attitude will drive you to improve. Until you are confident that you are the best in the world, you have to work very hard to achieve that status. You have to have knowledgeable customers, vendors and industry experts say you are the best in the world.

This attitude will also force you to think long-range. Being the best, making something that is to last beyond one's lifetime is a worthy and time-consuming goal. For Gil, it is clarifying and this brings us to the big point. You have to be where your customers are. From the beginning, Gil knew he needed interior designers and architects to be his sales channel. This led him to the conclusion that Weatherend Estate Furniture must advertise in high-end print publications that are read by designers and architects.

Seems simple but the first question you have to ask yourself is where are your customers? Where do they hang out? What do they read? What other products and services do they buy? How do they buy them?

Increasingly Gil is also about custom craftsmanship -- one-to-one marketing. He says on the web, "Weatherend Estate Furniture has the engineering and manufacturing capabilities to offer revisions to our standard product to fit your individual needs."

Think about it

Can you describe your core customer? How do you reach them now? What should you be doing that you are not now doing to reach more customers like the ones you have now?

Clip from: Marketing From A Distance - Maine to the world

One of eleven business owners in this episode

The Coast of Maine: Meet people who see the world as their marketplace. They see beyond the horizon; they know no boundaries and no borders; the world's people are their family.

In this episode of the show we meet eleven business owners who would rather live in Maine than anywhere else in the world. They are seasoned travelers who, after touring the world, decided to stay in Maine and make it their home and build their legacy.

Every person in this episode is committed to their community. They are active in their local Chamber and they are driven to make their community and our world a better place.  
And, we could go to every village, city and town in the world and find people like the people you meet here.  
These are the quiet heroes. Many are new pioneers. They charter new waters and break new grounds. They all create unique products and services and sell them around the world. They are volunteers, the value creators, the movers, the shakers, the doers, and the lovers of life. We can learn a lot from these hardworking, decent folks.

Weatherend Estate Furniture

Gil Harper, CEO

6 Gordon Drive
Rockland, ME 04841

Visit our web site:

Office: 800-456-6483

Business Classification:

Year Founded:

Be Where Your Customers Are

GIL HARPER (President/CEO): (Voiceover) We sell the best outdoor furniture in the world.

HATTIE: (Voiceover) Gil Harper's company Weatherend makes heirloom-quality outdoor furniture.

GIL: If you can build a piece of furniture that'll last on the coast of Maine, it'll last anywhere practically forever. It's heirloom quality. The Maine coast is probably some of the worst weather in the world, and when you build a yacht or you build a piece of outdoor furniture that can last 100 years, then it's going to be heirloom quality anywhere in the world.

HATTIE: So, Gil, how do you build a piece of furniture that lasts forever?

GIL: You've got to know how to use the materials.

(Voiceover) And you've got to know the methods of how to use those materials that you would use to build a yacht, that you would use to build any product that would last outdoors. It's the finish, the wood, but most of all, it's all of the methods. How do you put those materials together? If you don't put those materials together in their proper way, there's a weak-link chain, then the product will fail. You need to put them together, and that takes skill. That takes experience of a yacht builder, a boat builder, and we've done that. Ninety-eight percent of our customers are outside of the state of Maine, whether nationally or internationally.

HATTIE: You went to New York in 1984, and you called on architects, and they bought from you. How do you keep them buying from you?

GIL: Well, after making the initial contacts with some of the larger interior designers and architects, we found the success that was our vehicle to bring product across the country. And many of those interior designers and architects have offices in many cities across the country, so we continue to have vehicle.

(Voiceover) We advertise to those people. We present our product to those people with various representation around the country.

Where it starts is understanding your customer, where they buy, where they go to look at product, where they go to consider their needs. So it's really understanding where your customer is and where they'll go for that information. And our customer will go to a designer and architect; they'll go to a trade center.

(Voiceover) They'll look at a publication like Architectural Digest or Interior Design. Those are all places that they'll consider. So we need to be there where they're considering product of our level of quality.

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