I'm curious about who the longest lasting boutique maker has been?
McHale and Stephenson's have got to be two of the oldest boutique gear makers, no?
"Dave, it's all about profits. Leave MLD and Zpacks to cater to the SUL fringe....."
Living in Japan where it's considered extremely bad taste to push aside a customer in favor of reminding them that you are in it to make a profit, I have to politely disagree. Remember that it is the customer who ultimately determines whether or not the manufacturer is going to make a profit or not, and it is definitely NOT the customer's responsibility to help that manufacturer make a profit. Sure, making a profit is the manufacturer's goal, but in order to do that they have to appeal to the customer, and image, especially for a boutique manufacturer, is everything. Reminding a customer who queries you about possible needs they have that you will not do something for them because you can't make a profit off it is just a slap in the face and is sure to turn a sizable number of customers away, the last thing you want to do. Even if their question is counter-productive, the least you should do as a manufacturer is word your answers right, so that the customer feels welcome and catered to. What other reason is there to be a boutique manufacturer if not to build up trust and loyalty? It may be inconvenient and a lot of extra work to maintain the dialogue with customers, but if you look at the company reviews in the reviews section here you will see the words "trustworthy" and "listen" used over and over again. There is a very good reason for that.