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Last Update: Saturday September 18, 2021

Key Idea: Treat Customers Like Family

Perry Gates, an owner of Maine Gold, produces a fantastic maple syrup that is surpassed only by the sweet smell of success earned through a loyal customer following.

Key Question:


Deborah Meehan and Perry Gates say, "Treat customers like family and they will stick with you like family."

This is a gift business and the core product, Maine Gold, wins awards! The owners have a mystical connection to maple syrup, and they want to bring their customers to a similar place.

What does it mean to treat customers like family? Does it mean you can take them for granted and ignore them and be rude or inconsiderate?

No, not at all. It is true that many families don't treat each other with unconditional love but that is what we intend to say. Treat customers with unconditional love and treat them as if they are all you have. Yes, treat customers as if you'll never find another one. You only have one Mom and one Dad and maybe one or two brothers and sisters. Treat customers as if you only have a small handful and you know their likes and dislikes. You remember the time when their dog died. You were there when they graduated from high school and when they got married.

Feel the feeling? Family is special. Treat your customers like the special people they are and you could have 13,000 of them soon.

Maine Gold's list of 13,000 was built one at a time. It is the list of people who have bought their precious maple syrup or they received it as a gift. If you send the gift of Maine Gold to a friend, that friend is now on Maine Gold's list and you receive a thank you from Deb. We wonder how long it will take for this list to have 130,000 names. Not long!

Think about it

Do you ask your customers to refer you to their friends? If not, why not? Should you put a referral program in place?

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.

Maine Gold (DM)

Deborah Meehan, Co-owner

555 Commercial Street
Rockport, ME 04856

Visit our web site:

Office: 8007525271

Business Classification:

Year Founded:

Treat Customers Like Family

HATTIE: (Voiceover) This is not a fine dinner drink or an expensive bottle of perfume. This is Maine Gold, one of Maine's most delicious exports, pure maple syrup made by Deborah Meehan and Perry Gates.

PERRY GATES (Maine Gold): Maine Gold is a commodity gift business. (Voiceover) The commodity is first prize-winning, blue-ribbon maple syrup from the state of Maine sold around the world as gifts.

DEBORAH MEEHAN (Maine Gold): There's an annual contest put on by the state's Department of Agriculture, and it rates the quality of maple syrup: taste, density, color. And consistently, for about five years running, we won the state's first prize.

(Voiceover) And that's actually when we decided, I think we need to do something and have a business here.

PERRY: We know where all the sweet trees are. We've been doing this for 30 years. We know where the highest sugar content is since we measure it each year in the sap, and that's the sap that we harvest, and those are the samples that we sent to the state department show.

(Voiceover) As a consequence of that show, and we were packaging in tin cans at the time, then we realized that we had to do something else to really make it a product. You couldn't just put high-quality syrup in a tin can because you can't see it. That's why we developed the products that we have now and created the name, Maine Gold.

DEBORAH: (Voiceover) You know, we've elevated maple syrup, I think, to a gift product. It's not just syrup in bottles or syrup in cans. And we have a wonderful gift service that also accompanies our product.

HATTIE: (Voiceover) With smart marketing, this husband and wife turn their passion for sugar making into profits.

DEBORAH: (Voiceover) We do direct marketing. We do have a brochure, so we have a mailing list of about 13,000 right now. We've never bought a name. So it's all people who've either purchased from us or received gifts. We convert the gift recipients into buyers, and it's kind of a ripple effect, an exponential effect of growing.

HATTIE: (Voiceover) I asked Deborah and Perry why they think so many small companies don't grow.

DEBORAH: I think they're very product-focused and they forget that a business is all about relationships, and I think what we've really worked on in our business is developing the relationship between the customer and our staff or between the customer and the person who's receiving their gift, and making sure that they feel great about what they're giving and the person who's receiving it feels great. And we get copies of thank you notes that gift recipients send to the buyer, and they send us to say, `Look how great I feel about having given this gift.'

PERRY: It's the connectedness, really. It's maintaining a sense, a feeling of family, of community, of connectedness, and that's also part of Maine. I think that's part of Maine's goal, if you will, is the connectedness that we relate to and maintain with people outside our state, and that's what brings people into the state and gets us outside the state.

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