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prada tall boots athletes. He was interested in biomechanics and properly fitted shoes to reduce wear and tear on joggers' legs.In 1994, Gilman lost a big client and decided "to roll the dice with this product."The two joined forces and fended off a range of challenges from financing a start up to patent infringements by competitor AstroTurf and Tarkett .Gilman combined his sports network and marketing expertise in order to land the company's first installation in Oregon.Then in 1999, he was able to enlist the support and help of Tom Osborne, storied football coach who led the University of Nebraska to many football crowns."They wanted to build a stadium in Lincoln, Nebraska, and they had heard about a little company in Canada that had put a field somewhere in Oregon," said Gilman.When he heard that Osborne was accompanying the group that was to inspect FieldTurf, he immediately jumped on a plane to meet him personally."They walked across the field and said, 'where's the turf?' And I said you just walked across it,'' recalled Gilman.Osborne not only recommended the artificial grass, because of safety reasons, but personally put up the US$1 million performance bond required by the City of Lincoln."We had no money, never mind $1 million," said Gilman. "Tom Osborne wrote a personal cheque to the town and said, 'I'll guarantee it on behalf of FieldTurf.' Then he called and said, 'Don't let me down.' Where do you find people like that?''Next the University of Nebraska installed the turf and after its team rose to top ranks and was televised nationally many times, FieldTurf's reputation was established."That was it. That made our credibility," he said.His next coup was in 2001 when he attracted US$2 million in venture capital funds from high profile NFL quarterbacks Jim Kelly of the Buffalo Bills, Boomer Easiason, John Elway and Dan Marino, among others."Most of these guys are on television now as commentators and they slip in our name every once in a while,'' he said. circles."Basically, we have done our marketing through sports networks," he said.As sales were progressing, however, the company's prosperity was assured in February, 2004, when AstroTurf went bust and Tarkett made its US$100 million