Recent Years: Quality, Efficiency and New Markets

In recent years, the drive for efficiency in production at Maximum has been complemented by continued focus on quality. Peter Kilgore, who succeeded Nat Bishop as president in 2000 and has guided the company since, says the focus on consumer products today is to “build quality products that give people pleasure.” It was no longer surprising to have real-time access to the weather conditions outside your house, but having a refined-looking instrument display that suits the interior style and design of your home holds appeal to many homeowners beyond those who are yachtsmen or weather enthusiasts. Equally important to the team at Maximum was maintaining top-notch customer service at every step—from initial interest through installation, operations guidance, and when needed, troubleshooting and service.


  Peter Kilgore
  President, 2001 - Present

Peter started with Maximum in 1998, leading the marketing and sales effort before replacing Nat, who had become the president of Imtra Corporation. Peter was the first leader at Maximum with a background in weather, having minored in meteorology as an undergraduate, yet his initial focus was not on the technical or product side. He gave the most attention to the dealer network and to a growing direct marketing effort through catalog mailings and print advertising.

A specific project was developing a more upscale coffee-table style catalog that sold the aesthetics as well as the quality of Maximum products. This was useful to dealers with shrinking staffs, as well as in direct mail campaigns.

Peter says he did a lot of list prospecting and more than doubled the number of catalogs mailed. He also ran print ad campaigns in 50 magazines, among them Yankee. Although the pages of print ads have been reduced in recent years, Maximum still runs periodic ads in Yankee, as the company has since the ‘70s.

In 1998, when Peter first joined Maximum, digital marketing consisted mainly of a limited website, which was soon replaced by an
e-commerce site offering all Maximum products. The company also developed a “build your own weather station” capability that was popular for a period and, in 2008, a separate site for commercial customers at www.maximum-commercial.com.  As of the company’s 50th anniversary, a redesign was imminent yet again for the consumer site — www.maximum-inc.com.

On the product side, led by long-time employees Paul Hutchinson, chief engineer, and Scott Stevens, production manager, Maximum maintained a small, extremely knowledgeable core staff with enough capacity to keep delivering product quickly while outsourcing the assembly of sub-components. 

One key employee has been Claude Raposo, Maximum’s lead technician and overall customer service guru. His voice is likely the first one customers heard when they have called Maximum for tech support any time in the last 25 years. Others include long-term manufacturing employee Joyce Turgeon, who built Maximum instruments from 1986 in Natick until her retirement in 2016, and Joanne DeSousa who started the same year in Natick and retired in 2015. Louann Brayton started on the production team in 1988, right after the company moved to New Bedford, and remains an anchor within the manufacturing process, specializing in troubleshooting, repairs and quality control.

Market growth since 2000 came largely through increased sale of anemometers to the wind energy industry and multiple products to other commercial sectors. As of the company’s 50th anniversary in 2018, the majority of company revenue is delivered from commercial markets.

Maximum’s sale of anemometers to wind energy developers, largely through NRG Systems in Hinesburg, VT, grew dramatically as wind became an industrialized energy sector. Before a wind farm is financed, an assessment of the prospective location typically involves building towers and monitoring windspeeds across the site at different heights.  Maximum’s #40 anemometer was an industry standard for measurement for many years, although in the U.S., some investors now require use of a certain number of more expensive “Class 1” anemometers, which cut into annual sales. The recession in 2008-2009 and associated financial meltdown also caused a major slowdown in anemometer sales to this sector.

As the wind energy industry has matured, other competitors surfaced to measure wind, such as those using LIDAR (laser) and SODAR (sonic) technologies. These are extremely expensive units but have the advantage of measuring windspeed at higher altitudes for turbines that are reaching higher and higher.


Maximum & IMTRA's New Bedford Facility
1988 - Present

Despite riding the gusts and lulls of this energy sector, sales of anemometers have remained a key segment of Maximum’s business. Through developing a reputation with wind energy, Maximum has been exposed to other commercial sectors in need of anemometers and other weather instruments such as wind-speed alarms, and the company staff has developed some unique applications.

One example of a special use for anemometers is for a company that keeps cows cool in hot weather to maintain optimal milk production. When there isn’t enough wind to cool the cows naturally, a misting device is deployed until the wind picks up and Maximum’s #400 anemometer, along with a proprietary controller, automatically deactivates the misting device.

The same anemometer is used with tracker controller systems in the solar energy business to automatically change the angle of solar panels when high winds might otherwise damage the panels.

Maximum developed wind-speed alarms that have a variety of uses, notably on sites where cranes are in use and needed to maintain an accurate reading of wind speed so that quick action can be taken in high winds to prevent damage or injury. In association with power lines, the alarms have been integrated into a control panel that can reroute electricity within the electrical grid in period of high winds to prevent brownouts, which can be caused by power lines swaying unduly.

The company’s hand-held anemometers, the battery-powered DIC-3 and the self-powered BTC have found use not only in the military but in forestry work, fire-fighting, skydiving, and at sporting events where wind can influence the outcome.

Maximum was the first and only company to offer wireless brass-cased weather instruments, beginning in 2002, and experienced strong sales for several years. The company continues to look at ways to improve products based on available technologies. Current development projects include incorporating household Wi-Fi with the instruments for wireless installation and remote access. The goal of the new system is to connect homeowners with the real-time wind and weather not only from the comfort of their living room, but from anywhere, any time.

When Gordon White started building instruments in his basement, he knew he was making a good bet on people’s enduring interest in the weather and weather data. Fifty years later, Peter summarizes Maximum Instruments’ position this way:

“We have a growing commercial business that includes the wind energy industry, but is steadily moving into other areas, as well. We also have new growth potential on the consumer side, with Wi-Fi-enabled product that should help introduce the timeless values of what Maximum offers to new generations.” 


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