In a letter to its collectors, sales staff and to its retail outlets, Harbour Lights, the foremost manufacturer of lighthouse replicas recently announced that it had been acquired by Lighthouse Marketing, Ltd.
Although the announcement caught many in the lighthouse community by surprise, they all agreed that Lighthouse
Marketing would be the best steward for carrying on the Harbour Lights tradition.
The entire operations of Harbour Lights, which was founded in California in 1991 by Bill and Nancy Younger, has been moved to Lighthouse Marketing’s world headquarters in West Kennebunk, Maine where it will be operated as an independent subsidiary.
Lighthouse Marketing, Ltd. also operates the Lighthouse Depot mail order catalog and the world’s largest lighthouse website out of their West Kennebunk, Maine location. The company also owns and operates retail stores in Wells, Maine, which is “The World’s Largest Lighthouse Gifts and Collectibles Store” as well as the Lighthouse Depot retail store inside the new Maine Lighthouse Museum in Rockland, Maine.
Don Devine, president of Lighthouse Marketing and a Harbour Lights collector himself, who has attended many of the Harbour Lights events, has been a strong supporter of Harbour Lights over the years. In fact, Harbour Lights collectibles have always been prominently featured in the Lighthouse Depot catalog. Devine says he is committed to making the Harbour Lights collection even better and hopes to soon include new and exciting introductions to the line. He also stated in a prepared statement that he will welcome and encourage collectors to offer feedback and suggestions on ways to improve Harbour Lights.
Bill and Nancy Younger, founders of Harbour Lights, said
that the decision to sell the company, although difficult, was to allow them an opportunity to spend more time together, as well as with their family.
They went on to say, “We’re just removing the day-to-day demands of a major business. You might say that we’ll now be enjoying the fun side.” And it’s no wonder, for more than ten years, Bill and Nancy Younger, along with daughter Kim Andrews, have kept a schedule of personal appearances and autograph signings around the nation that would make the head of any national politician spin. They spent more time on the road than they did at home. Over the years, it would be rare for the family to appear together and many times on the same day, they would all be making personal appearances in different parts of the country.
As Bill always said in many of his speaking engagements, he didn’t start the business to make money, and then would add jokingly, “Although we certainly expected to.” He would continue by saying, “The real reason we started Harbour Lights was to draw public attention to saving lighthouses and their history.”
Almost since its inception, Harbour Lights grew by leaps and bounds, probably much faster than any of the family ever expected. Although they changed manufacturing plants over the years, their commitment to quality kept improving as their competitors dropped by the wayside. Before long, the company created a worldwide base of loyal Harbour Lights collectors and collector clubs, and kept the communication open with a newsletter, collectors’ society and websites, and of course, all those personal appearances.
The Younger family was also very generous to the lighthouse preservation movement, always going above and beyond to lend a helping hand whenever possible.
But time always catches up on everyone, no matter who you are, and as we are all aware, family, children and grandchildren must always come first. Bill and Nancy wanted to retire, or as they said, “at least partially retire.” However, they continued by saying they “will never separate themselves from Harbour Lights.”
Bill, Nancy and other family members such as daughters Kim and Rachel will remain semi-active in the company. Bill, Nancy and Kim will continue to make limited personal appearances and autograph signings. Rachel will continue to write the Harbour Lights Collectors Club newsletter, Lighthouse Legacy while Harry Hine will continue in the design process, working with sculptors and the factory manufacturing aspects. Kathy Dowling, who has already moved from California to Maine will remain on as the Harbour Lights Customer Service Manager.
Devine said that he shares the same values that the Youngers do, and although business will now be done at Maine instead of California, the core values and basis of operations of Harbour Lights will remain basically the same.
UPDATE: Harbour Lights, Lighthouse Marketing, and the Lighthouse Depot went out of business in 2010. Harbour Lights lighthouses are now available only through the secondary markets such as EBay.
This story appeared in the
March 2006 edition of Lighthouse Digest Magazine. The print edition contains more stories than our internet edition, and each story generally contains more photographs - often many more - in the print edition. For subscription information about the print edition, click here.
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