The annual PGA Merchandise Show is the “Super Bowl” of the golf club industry as over 1,000 vendors and 40,000 attendees from over 70 countries converge on Orlando to see what all is new under one roof. The event is not open to the public but to pros and golf shop buyers. If you like long days on your feet looking at and talking about golf club equipment, apparel, soft goods, teaching and training aids, etc. then this is the event to be at.
To kick things off at the 2010 PGA Merchandise Show was the 8th annual Demo Day event at the massive 42-acre Orange County National Golf Center and Lodge. This was the first time that Hireko had participated at this very
popular event. We were sandwiched between premium shaft maker Fujikura and About Golf; a high definition golf simulation software company. I was the fortunate one to be outside interacting with fellow golfers while the others on our staff had the laborious task of setting up the booth at the Convention Center.
Hireko had a full range of our products on display, including several new products that made their public debut. The morning hours were devoted to PGA professionals, while the afternoon hours were open to everyone. Early on, the wind was howling directly into the teeth of where people were hitting our products. Luckily no one commented on distance or accuracy as a result of the condition because it was fierce. Many of the pros were not familiar with
our products, but after hitting the Dynacraft Prophet Tour irons and ICT driver, they came away impressed and that was prior to finding out what the cost of our product was, which was icing on the cake.
In the afternoon the traffic increased considerably. Despite being in business for over 25 years, there were a lot of players who had never seen or heard of our products. But after all, that is why you attend, to get more exposure to products that may not be household names. I can’t say there was an overwhelming favorite as a lot of our products, new and old alike, performed well depending on the skill level and tendencies of the golfer. This is the reason why we have a broad range of products to choose from and why our emphasis is on custom fitting.
By day’s end I wasn’t only left with a sun and wind burn, but the opportunity to explain the new products and technology to a multitude of golfers while they we able to see for themselves what a great value our products were. After packing up the clubs and the tent, it was time for dinner with one of our key customers and then to get a good night’s rest for what was next to come – Day 1 of the Show.
PGA Show: Day One
2004 marked the last time since Hireko had a booth at the show displaying the latest wares. In the past few years I had been on the other side which was walking the aisles and talking to the various representatives. To have booth duty again brought back memories of aching feet and a sore throat from talking with one customer right after another. To give you some insight, to attend the show as a vendor is very expensive. Being a primarily component supplier you have to sell a considerable volume of product at the low margins at which we sell them for to break even. This might explain why Hireko was the only component clubhead supplier to attend this year.
We figured the first day would be busy as everyone would be wanting to come in one day to see the products they were interested in and then leave to go back home or at least get a round or two under their belts before they had to head back home to the cold. We were right about one thing, Day 1 was extremely busy.
Once people arrived, the first thing they wanted to pick up was the Dynacraft
Prophet Tour irons as the black finish was almost like a magnet. Black sells; as was evident of those picking up the Power Play Caiman driver as well. The sparkles emanating from the iBella Obsession and Bellissima lines were another thing that caught the attention of many as it was something the catalog could not show.
One more thing that caught the eye, or should I say nose, was the Karma scented grips. The attendee and not just the women could not get over the chocolate color grip smelling like…well, chocolate. Or the purple smelled like lavender.
There was a tremendous amount of attention to the 2010 Dynacraft ICT driver and fairway woods. Not only myself, but my colleagues manning the booth, gave the little wrench a workout by demonstrating the different lie
and face angle changes that were possible.
Another club that people wanted to see was the Acer XDS Insider. Once I sat the club in front of the player they instantly saw what we were trying to accomplish. The two new Acer irons, the Cabriolet and especially the XK Ti-Ceptional prompted lots of questions and fingerprints from the constant fondling.
By 6 PM, were we all exhausted and ready to head to dinner with our Australian distributor (and friend) Graeme Hardy of Executive Golf.
PGA Show: Day Two
We didn’t know what to expect on day #2. Would all the people wanting to see us have come on that first day? Well it didn’t take long to answer that
question. We were actually busier on day #2 than the first. Again, more demonstrating the ICT driver, talking about grooves and the new Acer XB wedges to picking up the ball with the Dynacraft On-Line putter and showing how you marked your ball with it.
As you can imagine there were attendees who stopped by our booth from virtually every state, plus our neighbors to the North and South of us. Customers flew in from all over the world to attend including the obvious golfing hot spots such as all of Western Europe, Japan and Australia. But we also spoke with new found friends from Brazil, Argentina and Uruguay, not to mention customers from the unlikely (Russia and Iceland). There was even a Barbie and a Beast who stopped by our booth.
The day flew by. I had only an hour at the very end of the show hours to have a meeting with owner and his chief engineer at our primary foundry to discuss some pending projects that are on slate for later this year or perhaps will be debuted a year from now. This is another reason for attending Day 2 of the Show is the face to face contact with those you normally contact by email or phone. So much more can be accomplished as we had a very productive brainstorming session.
Another day done and once again off to dinner with our one of our biggest accounts and possibly a new partner.
PGA Show: Day Three
The measure of success of a show is measured in many ways like the number of orders written or customers you are able to talk to. But if a company member can rattle off all of what they saw on the show floor, their booth must not have been very busy. That wasn’t anything any of the Hireko staff could say. Traffic was once again surprisingly strong on day #3 and chaotic in some cases. I managed to sneak off for only a brief period to have lunch with UST-Mamiya to talk some shop and to catch up with a dear friend. After all, the show is also about building strong relationships. It was amazing how many people I saw I can consider very good friends from as long as 20 years ago when I first started coming to the show.
After the show hours concluded and the attendees had left to go home or spend a few days vacationing in beautiful central Florida area, we were still hard at work for several more hours tearing down the booth and packing everything up. Going back to the van to grab the clubs from Demo Day to send back with the booth was the only time to realize just how big the show floor was and to set eyes beyond the Hireko booth.
As we were leaving after the last pallet was packed, we had already decided we would attend again next year based upon the success we had these past four days. So I have a year to recover form my aching feet and my sore throat from talking so much. Thanks to all those I saw. And for those that did not attend, 2010 should be a great year for Hireko equipment based on feedback we received from our customers, both new and old.