By Barb Ernster
John Kissel, owner of Kissel Boat Covers in North Olmsted, Ohio, is not worried about competition or the economy. In fact, this will be his best year ever. Kissel started out with his dad’s company in 1974 and went on his own in 1986. It took him a while to understand the business part, but he tweaked his market focus and it has worked out well.
“I offered people back then all the lower end products so I wouldn’t lose any work. About 10 years ago, I changed and it was a very good change. I offer higher end products. Everything is higher standard.Â I had a storefront, but now work out of my home where my business has tripled,” says Kissel.
Kissel counts himself lucky to be living in Cleveland where there are 10,000 registered boat owners. He needs only a fraction of that market to make a living. After putting up a website five years ago, his customers are finding him now and he has turned down business from customers in other states that he can’t service.
“I don’t worry about my competition—and I say that nicely. It took me a while to understand that offering a better product would make my business grow. Most of my competitors don’t offer what I do,” he says. “Ninety-nine percent of my work is referral.”