Profile of Success: A Leg to Stand On
WHAT GOT HIM HERE: A strange journey. After working previously as a landscape architect and spending 10 years out at sea as a private yacht sailor, Mark Desrochers returned home to start a woodworking business with his best friend, Matthew Burak.
“Matt had a long and successful run as a furniture maker,” Desrochers recalls. “We incubated this table leg business for a few years inside of his furniture business.”
As for the direct marketing side of the business, this was the first venture into that arena for the pair. “We were introduced to direct marketing through a customer in Matt’s furniture store,” Desrochers says. “We struck up a conversation with this character out there, Amy Africa. She was working for this guy that bought a bunch of furniture from Matt. That’s how we got introduced to direct marketing.”
Africa, a Web marketing consultant (you can see her E-Commerce Insights column on pg. 31), wound up consulting on Classic Designs for several years, Desrochers notes.
WHY CLASSIC DESIGNS BY MATTHEW BURAK HAS SUCCEEDED: “It’s about the product,” Desrochers says. “We’re selling to the upper end, and our product reflects that. It’s well-made, highly detailed, has good scale and good proportion. In a world where there are a lot of mass-produced products, we carved out a niche for that — more highly detailed wood turning.”
And Classic Designs is updating its product selection constantly to meet the demands of its customers. “There are new products in every catalog that goes out,” he says. “There’s something new that we can focus our customers’ attention on. New is a powerful driver/motivator.”
WHAT HE ENJOYS MOST ABOUT THE CATALOG/MULTICHANNEL BUSINESS: The people. A firm believer in the value of trade associations as well as industry trade shows and conventions, Desrochers credits much of his company’s success to the generosity of others in the industry.
“Most everything we’ve learned and most of our success can be attributed back to the kindness that’s been shown to us through the various trade associations over the years,” he says. “Most everything we’ve learned, we’ve learned at the trade shows and conventions.”
HOW THE COMPANY HAS ONE-UPPED THE COMPETITION: Product expertise. By taking advantage of Burak’s furniture making experience, Classic Designs has established itself as the defining woodworking authority.
“We have Matt as the face of the company, and he’s well-known in woodworking circles across the country,” Desrochers notes. “We’re taking advantage of his expertise — we’re the trusted source for wood turnings, cabinet makers and furniture makers. When woodworkers have questions about style, design, proportion or balance, they come to us for the answer.”