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Gloster hosts dealers

Using advanced reseller training to educate its best customers

Gloster executivesGloster executives gather with retailers in South Boston, Va.
THE FOLKS AT GLOSTER FURNITURE DON'T LIVE BY THE SAYING, "YOU CAN'T TEACH AN OLD DOG NEW TRICKS." THEY BELIEVE IN ANOTHER QUOTE MADE FAMOUS BY A RETAILER THAT SAYS, "AN EDUCATED CONSUMER IS OUR BEST CUSTOMER."
     Gloster backs up that belief with a series of educational trips and programs for its global retailers. For a week in January of each year, Gloster hosts a group of 15-20 retailers from around the world to tour its manufacturing facility and visit the teak plantations in Indonesia. For the last three years in February, Gloster hosted two groups of 20-25 key retailers from across the nation for a day and half of Advanced Reseller Training at its U.S. corporate headquarters in South Boston, Va. Each of these events is specifically designed to educate the retailers on the evolution from a teak seed to a piece of fine crafted furniture and the history of Gloster Furniture Company.
     Within minutes of the introduction of retailers at one of the recent AR T sessions in South Boston, one could tell this was a good cross-section of outdoor casual furniture specialists. Some were from single store locations while others were from multi-store operations. The 21 retailers represented a mix of dealers, ranging from veterans who have sold Gloster for many years to some who had only been showcasing the line for a few years. All were in good spirits as Gloster had handled all travel arrangements and everyone appreciated the excellent service and attention to detail.
     After the introduction of Gloster's entire corporate staff, including accounting, customer service, cushion production, IT, sales, marketing and quality assurance, Group Deputy CEO Charles Vernon started the morning session with a history lesson on teak and The Gloster Way. Ever the storyteller, Vernon did an excellent job of explaining why Gloster has enjoyed such success in its relatively short history.
     From its beginning in 1983, Gloster has always had its priorities in order, he said. First and foremost its people are the most important. With good people in place, the company can design products that consumers will love. This creates satisfied customers at both the consumer level and with retailers, who in turn help the company's shareholders to enjoy the results. Sounds simple enough but, as Vernon explained, it is the driving force of the entire company.
     Following the explanation of its dedication to high-quality teak furniture everyday, the Gloster team took attendees on a slide show tour of the teak plantations and its manufacturing facility in Indonesia.
     The morning was an excellent introduction into the strength and beauty of teak wood furniture and a company that believes education is critical to success.
     Eric Parsons, president, Gloster USA, summed it up when he said, "Knowledge is power and education is the key to selling teak. When you open the customer's eyes to the beauty of teak, they open their wallets." Retailers echoed personal store examples of how true that is.
     Eli Hymer of The Hill Company in Worcester, Pa., said he has sold Gloster product for about four of his 25 years in the casual furniture business. He was impressed at how much he learned during the two-day seminar about the quality of teak, its growth cycle, replacement of trees and the care of Gloster employees. "Before attending, I did not know the detail that went into the cushion process and some of their cleaning and repair techniques," Hymer said. "I am already telling the Gloster story to anyone who will listen: friends in the industry, employees and customers. I share the quality of Gloster with my customers. I always thought it was a great product. I now know it is."

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