Saturday, January 9, 2010

SPS MVP for 2009

The NFL has Peyton Manning and Brett Favre and this time of year endless talk about who is the Most Valuable Player.

The golf retail industry has had many worthy performances on both sides of the table, but the Successful Pro Shop (SPS) vote for MVP for 2009 goes to a rookie. In a year when golf shirt vendors were going out of business at a staggering rate who would have thought that an upstart could have made a difference, could have grown exponentially, established itself as a brand and sold through like a big name veteran. No one! No one perhaps, except Rob Stein and Paul Wold.
Donald Ross Sportswear is a hit. Their tight grouping of traditionally styled micro-poly performance knits works. It is well made, well priced and well styled. It sells through.

Here is what some of the leaders in the industry are saying:

"Craig, I have worked with Rob Stein for the past 15 years. His current line, Donald Ross Sportswear is a traditional looking garment with a tech fabric. We carried it our shop this past season with great success! We plan to triple our order for 2010 and I know we will have solid participation from the membership."

Jim Kidd
Friar's Head

"Donald Ross Sportswear was one of the bright spots in what was a vanilla year for most lines. Great fit, vibrant colors, thoughtful pricing and best of all sell though. We are looking forward to the spring ’10 line."

Rick Burton
East Lake Golf Club

“Being that our course is a Donald Ross course it made sense for us to give the Donald Ross Sportswear line a try. We brought in a small order in early summer and had to re-order 3 more times. It ended up being our number 1 men’s shirt line as far as sell through goes. It was great to be able to offer a tech shirt that has traditional country club sizing and styling.”

Jeff Kiddie
Aronimink Golf Club

"I first brought in the Donald Ross line in the summer of 2009. I had completed my buying for the season, however, the unique fabrications, designs and colors attracted me to the line. It was a clean, classic look. The combination of classic country club styling in performance fabrics filled a very real need for our shop. I was not surprised at all that it has done so well in our shop."

Gene Mattare
Saucon Valley Country Club

“I have known Rob Stein for over 20 years and have always followed his ventures with a close eye, for he knows the retail business. When he told me about the Donald Ross line I knew the line would meet two specific niches in my shop; first a high-performance clothing line with a slant towards conservative styling and great coloration and secondly, a single vendor for my patrons to fulfill their performance clothing needs. Rob has not let me down; Donald Ross has been a huge success in my shop for two seasons now!”

Michael S. Harmon
Secession Golf Club

Paul, Rob – Congratulations on being the first SPS golf retail MVP. I would imagine you are pretty excited about the upcoming PGA Show.

Craig, we are very excited about the upcoming show. Our first year goals have largely been met. We have begun to establish a great distribution of highly regarded clubs and shops. We have established a solid “home office” in Pinehurst, NC for warehousing, customer service, and embroidery and we have largely met our goals of shipping orders complete and on time. In addition, we think we have let the industry know we are a “can do” type organization that gets things done. We are passionate about providing “Hug Your Customer” kind of service that help to make customers feel good about doing business with us for the long haul.

From a product and branding viewpoint the Donald Ross name provides us with an outstanding opportunity. Ross was highly regarded for his thoughtful designs that were the definition of classic: high quality, consistent, timeless, and thoughtful. Moreover, Ross had a personal style that was very much in the image of the type of apparel we are producing.

Paul and I are both active golfers, we generally walk and carry our own clubs. The advantages of performance yarns became obvious to us after much trial and error as the quality of yarns continued to improve. We became obsessed with the idea that there really wasn’t a product in the market that met our needs: classic design and fit using the finest quality performance yarns available. We felt very strongly that there must be a lot of other golfers out there that would respond positively to our idea. So we decided to make the product ourselves.

Our industry is going through a major consolidation. We have committed ourselves to being an on course “green grass” only supplier. We feel very strongly that this commitment will provide our customers with an excellent long-term opportunity to feature Donald Ross Sportswear in their shops. Our goal is for our customers to consistently sell our product profitably, and at full margin.

You have been able to hire some great reps. Are there any territories you will be looking to fill at the show?

We have not only been fortunate, but lucky as well. During all of the consolidation some very highly regarded sales reps became available. We know from our experience that this is a very personalized industry and that PGA Professionals and buyers like to do business with people they know, like, and trust. We started with two reps at last year’s show and now have coverage in 15 territories. We think we have a core group of sales reps that will be with us for a long time.

Of course we are always looking to improve our representation. If there are any entrepreneurs out there who aren’t seeing or hearing about Donald Ross Sportswear in their territories you should feel free to come by the booth, #4883 to take a look around and introduce yourselves.

Are there any new and exciting plans for the future?

Our plans for the future are to continue to build our business one day and one account at a time. Continuing to make sure that each of our accounts is being provided with excellent product and service. And, to make sure that each account has the opportunity to make full margin on our products.

Of course we have dreams. Donald Ross would love to be known as having the best product and service in the industry. At this time we feel that most shops really want to concentrate on core products and are trying to simplify things. We will continue to add new products seasonally where opportunities present themselves. We have very little interest in being a “me too” resource.

Would you like to share some of your thoughts and stories as you reflect on the past year?

The testimonials above represent the kind of feedback we have received from many customers. Knowing that we are helping to make a difference is very gratifying. We feel very fortunate and lucky that in the current business climate, the timing of our launch was excellent.

Honorable mention:

- Kinloch Golf Club was recently recognized as America’s 4th best private golf facility in the 2010 Golf World Readers’ Choice Rankings. The club received the only perfect “10.0” rating of the entire listing in the Service category and was ranked 1st in the country.

- Pima-Direct has been building brands and bottom line for top facilities for years. In a year when almost everyone in the industry was down the Pima story picked up traction and showed considerable growth both with existing accounts and new customers looking for a way to make margin.

The Donald Ross Sportswear booth no. in Orlando is 4883. Rob and Paul and some of the exceptional sales team they have put together will be working hard at the show to be sure. When you stop by to see them tell them you read about them here and you will be sure to get a good seat.