A Sole Source Solution

November, 2008

It is with much thought and prayer that Carrie and I announce our decision for Heart of Dakota to become a sole-source company that will no longer sell our products through distribution. This plan will go into effect throughout the first part of 2009. As we've continued to write our guides, it has become increasingly difficult for other retailers to carry all of the resources recommended in our guides, and even more difficult for them to give accurate placement information. This is due to the fact that placement varies depending on where children are at developmentally, what each family's philosophy of education is, and whether or not the family wishes to combine their children within a program. Since a one-size-fits-all placement is not what we do at Heart of Dakota, it is difficult for retailers to take all needed areas into account when offering placement advice.

While we have been very grateful for each and every one of our retailers, and we have enjoyed an excellent relationship with them, we do feel it is time for Heart of Dakota to become a sole-source company. We desire for those using Heart of Dakota to be able to be accurately placed within our programs by receiving placement help directly from Heart of Dakota. We also want families to know at the time of purchase exactly what resources are needed for each guide and to be able to decide, based on how our packages are put together, which resources are most important As we look at the path that companies such as Sonlight, Winter's Promise, Tapestry of Grace, and My Father's World have taken, we realize that we can serve our Heart of Dakota customers better by helping them directly rather than passing that job off to another retailer to do.

Now that our plan is in place to write our guides through grade 8, we also have our warehouse, our work force, our phone systems, our catalog, our website, and our board in place as well. We have competitive package pricing in place that will save you money on each package that you purchase from us. We are now a fully functioning business ready to serve all of your needs. As far as conventions go, we have discovered that even when our guides are shown by other companies at conventions, it is most often without the corresponding resources and without accurate placement and program understanding. While we do not plan to travel to book conventions extensively, we do plan to provide personal assistance by phone, by email, and on the board for all who wish to look at Heart of Dakota. We provide the entire first week and introductions of all of our guides on our website for viewing, so customers have a trial week to print and ponder.

We do anticipate that our overall sales volume may decrease because of this decision, but as a family that views our company as a ministry to home school families, our primary concern is not total sales. Our primary goal is that families will find that our curriculum helps their family in their pursuit to raise up their children to glorify God. By becoming a sole source company, we feel that we will be able to get more families placed correctly in our programs and started on the right path.

Mike and Carrie Austin