Sunday, June 14, 2015

Imperial Powered by Coolcore

I recently spent time in Bourbon, Missouri with the management team at Imperial Headwear. I was invited by David Shaffer who is the Director of Marketing to tour their facilities and discuss their move from Denver to Missouri. After the purchase in October of 2012 by Paramount Apparel International the subsequent conversion of internal systems, etc. culminated with this move, and like all such moves, requires patience and dedicated expertise to accomplish. The team at Imperial were rightfully proud as they explained to me that “not only is the transition complete but we are better poised now than we have ever been to service the golf market.”

The other partnership that we were getting together to discuss was described to me by Mike Wrightson (General Manager of Imperial Headwear) as “a game changer in golf headwear” is the proprietary relationship with CoolcoreÒ to launch a line of caps that can lower surface temperatures up to 30% without chemicals.

I was impressed with the tour, the team, the partnerships and the potential of a “game changer” and so I am excited to have an opportunity to publish some of that conversation.

David, Mike – sitting in this showroom, having toured the facility and heard the details of the transition and the breadth of the Paramount umbrella is frankly a lot to take in. Go over the more important points of what this new latitude means to Imperial’s green-grass distribution.

Mike –Imperial is now owned and operated by a very healthy corporation.  Imperial’s customers can really benefit from the capabilities of this larger parent company.  Inventory levels are great, production has industry-leading turnaround times, and returns are at record lows.  Our customers are just now starting to see the muscle behind the new Imperial.

It seems that as big and difficult a move and transition as this was that Imperial has not lost its market share with high-end golf shops.

David – I like to say the higher a golf course is ranked the more likely they are to do business with Imperial.  Imperial is THE classic golf brand; we turn 100-years old next year.  Of course there was some attrition during the transition – that was to be expected – but a lot of those customers have started coming back to Imperial.

Coolcore as a “game-changer” is a strong declaration and yet after seeing the fabrication and the demonstration and video I’m inclined to agree with you.

David – Wicking has been the performance story for a long time now in golf apparel. Cooling is the next generation of performance fabrics though, and Coolcore is the best cooling technology out there right now. Coolcore fabrics test so well against other fabrics claiming to do similar things.  And to perform that well without the use of chemicals is amazing -- it’s all in the fiber construction.

Mike – It’s an exciting time for our Company.  There aren’t too many technological breakthroughs in headwear, but this is one of them.  I’m thrilled to be the first company offering this cooling technology to golf customers.

Mike, you mentioned that the fabrication alone won’t make the new line launch a success. You will need a handsome hat design with shelf appeal and perhaps some “outside the box” merchandising ideas in order to create the sell through you feel the product deserves.

Mike – Yes, when we first evaluated the opportunity to develop a line of cooling headwear we decided to design great looking headwear with comfortable technical fabrics.  Otherwise nobody would care about its function.  So we set out to make better performance hats with superior technology.

David, assuming this cool-down benefit takes the headwear category out of the commodity mode and makes it much more brand driven- what are the marketing plans to drive this home?

David – From a marketing point of view this is also a game changer.  We think our cooling hats will have strong consumer appeal.  In addition to designing some great styles with Coolcore fabrication, we’ve set premium price points and increased advertising as well as PR efforts to help drive consumer awareness.

When we put this Coolcore conversation on the blog I’m going to want to put up the video that explains the fabrication. Is there anything else that either of you would like to add to for the reader’s benefit?

David – Coolcore technology is activated by moisture.  So when your body sweats or you dip the hat in water, it triggers the cooling effect through evaporation.  Which is great because the cap only works when you’re hot or want to cool down.  Otherwise it’s just a great hat!

David, Mike – I want to thank you for your time and effort telling this story to the blog's readership and for having me out to Missouri.

Thank you, Craig!