Monday, July 18, 2016

Hail To The King!

This week, I had the opportunity to head back out to Latrobe CC. Through Jacobsen's relationship with the Arnold Palmer Group, we had the chance to get in a little more than a round of golf. We had the chance to visit the barn, where there is more golf history than you could ever believe. It is truly incredible, that someone had the foresight, to keep all of these pieces of history of Arnold Palmer's life. It is something I will never forget. A special thanks goes out to Mark Pena from Jacobsen for being such a great host!
What made the visit even more special was Doc Giffin. Doc has worked with Arnold Palmer for over 50 years! We only had a short time with him, but just in that brief period, we were able to hear some incredible stories. The part I think that I enjoy the most about Latrobe CC is that they understand the importance of  Arnold Palmer, but on the other hand, it is not a big deal having him at the next table, in the men's grill, having lunch.

Arnold Palmer's golf club collection
Arnold Palmer & Steve Stephens
Arnold Palmer's Film Library

The famous Penzoil Tractor & his Father's reconditioned tractor

Arnold Palmer's Golf Cart

Doc Giffin giving us the history of all the collection

Doc Giffin explaining the story behind the personalized golf cart



WJC


Saturday, July 9, 2016

When Did This Start?

       One of the interesting aspects of all the turf porn on social media is getting to see more and more behind the curtain at big events. Recently, the US Open at Oakmont, and then quickly after that, the photos coming out of Congressional CC, while they hosted the Quicken Loans PGA event, gave insight in to some that do not have the opportunity to host or work an event of this size.
The hundred plus extremely qualified volunteers, on top of a staff that only most clubs dream of having, caused many people in the turf business to ask, "When did this start?". Add in the incredible amounts of equipment and donations needed to host and it is really hard to believe. The reality is you might not need all those bodies, but in 2013 at Merion and 2016 at Oakmont, if they didn't have all those volunteers, they would not have been able to get the courses back together so quickly after severe storms. The crazy amount of equipment required is also tied to the limited time staffs have to get the course ready in the morning and get the post round work done in the evening.
       Probably the easy answer, for any extreme measure taken to provide a near perfect golf course, is to blame Augusta. I had the picture in my office, from Sports Illustrated, from the early 1990's, with multiple fiveplexes, mowing the fairways at the Masters. Where I remember it really taking off was the 1997 US Open at Congressional. Mr. Latshaw was the Superintendent and they hand walked fairways! Yes, hand walked fairways, that is not a misprint. I knew a bunch of clubs that were rounding up as many Jacobsen PGMs as they could to loan to Congressional for the US Open. Depending on who you talk to, this is a practice that the USGA will not let happen again. At the time, there was definitely some discussion of creating a monster, that would cause issues for other clubs.
       I was on the staff at Merion GC for the 1989 USGA US Amateur Championship. A few Alumni and I were laughing, the other day, about not even having staff shirts to wear for the tournament, just a VIP pin (see below). It was just our normal crew with some additions from the West Course.

      It is pretty cool to see what happens when you give someone, at the top of their profession, an unlimited budget and staff and they are able to provide near perfection.

Badge for the 1989 US Amateur
   
Photo taken by Andy Billing at Oakmont CC during the 2016 US Open


WJC





  

Sunday, June 12, 2016

It Just Doesn't Matter




   One of my favorite movie scenes is Bill Murray in the movie Meatballs, giving a motivational speech the night before the final day competition against Camp Mohawk.

Why I bring this up, is this past week, while preparing for some meetings, I was analyzing some of the support we do as a company throughout the year. To say it was eye opening, is an understatement.
When you add up all the professional organizations and their events over a year, it can total up to a big number quickly.
So what does this have to do with the Meatballs speech? For me, it has always been an unanswerable question of, " does it matter from a business perspective if you do or do not support the associations of the turf industry?" The tag line of, "we support those who support us", has been repeated over and over for years at meetings. But does someone buy from me rather than a competitor because of my support level? Does it play a part in the purchase process?
Trying to quantify the return on your investment is not an easy number to come up with.
In the end, it just doesn't matter because it is the right thing to do.

WJC








Tuesday, May 31, 2016

No Handbook

       There is one thing that I have learned in my social media experiment and that is there is no handbook. I started this, a few years ago, on a career advancement/change basis. The change came without even one little bit of the social media efforts being a part of the equation. Go figure? Everything you read is telling you must have a social media footprint to matter in the business world.  But depending on what customers you talk to, it is a good thing or a complete waste of time.
Maybe the use of social media will make you first on their mind when a need arises or even better, it makes you look technically advanced, but only to the guys who like using it. There are also pitfalls of too much information. We had a customer touting how great a demo of a mower was at his club on Twitter. The next day a competitive sales rep showed up looking to demo his unit. While I would love to post a video of a demo doing something extra ordinary, I also need to be careful not to give away the location. Sad but true.

      I have some people who will reference something I have posted or tweeted. I have some others who absolutely have a strong opinion of my efforts. What I sometimes struggle with is posting information and the tone being misunderstood. Just like a text, it can always be perceived, not in the way you had hoped. So now make your stuff interesting or funny, but don't offend any one or come off like a jerk. Easy, right?
    
WJC
     

Sunday, May 8, 2016

Partners With The Pigs

  



       This past spring we were lucky enough to enter into a partnership with the Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs. The Iron Pigs are the Phillies AAA affiliate. They are one of the top teams in attendance, in the minor leagues, for good reason. When you walk into the stadium, you can instantly see how strong they are at marketing.

       Our first event was this past Wednesday. We were able to place some of our equipment on the warning track, for a customer field day. Ryan Hills, the Director of Grounds, could not have been a more gracious host! After having an extra inning game the night before, he was happy to spend time with the group, talking about his pre-game field preparations. From showing the use of a turbine blower to blow up the tarp to clear the water, to the application of Pro's Choice Rapid Dry, it was all very interesting to the turf managers in attendance.

      Thank you to Ryan Hills and the Iron Pigs for a great day! Even with some tough weather, it still was a special opportunity. I know for my son, who was one of a few kids to join us, he was pretty excited to have a chance to be on the field. After removing all of our equipment from the warning track, he hand raked the entire track. Once we got home, he was asking about where the closest stadium was to our home that he could work.

     My son Pete raking the warning track after the field day and before the game

Ryan Hills, Director of Field Maintenance for the Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs, talks to our group about field maintenance practices
The Turfco Torrent Blower being used to get the water off the trap 



WJC

Sunday, April 10, 2016

What Is The Magic Number?

       Not sure when it happened, but in recent years, the buying process has changed on larger equipment purchases. While nothing is an absolute, it is interesting how often it becomes about the final number vs. what unit was the preferred choice. For me, the magic number is right around $150K. It is when more people are involved in the process, at the club, and how much you want to justify your preference. I can't count how many times I have heard the statement, " I am just happy to get something!" It is easy to understand why you would feel this way.
Many clubs have held back on capital purchases over the past eight years. It has happened to multiple clubs that they just cannot wait any longer to replace some equipment that is well past it's shelf life. It makes you wonder, when the club buys new stoves for the kitchen or purchase new carpet, is it low bid that wins or who has the best product for the need?

Monday, March 28, 2016

Super Support

       This past week, we had all our main vendor representatives in town for meetings and to travel with our salesmen. The week started off with some talks to review the new products and updates for this coming season for each product line. We are very lucky to have some incredible people to work with. It is amazing how they all have great passion about their products and believe they are selling the best. Getting someone like Chuck Hicks from Redexim or Chris Francis from Turfco out into the field to demo a unit for customers is truly something to watch. The guys know their product inside and out and are excited to be showing you why they think it is better than the competition. You have to wonder if the ability to focus specifically on a smaller product line is an advantage.

Thanks to Mark Pena from Jacobsen, Andy Barone from Ventract, Steve Johnson from Smithco, Chuck Hicks from Redexim & Chris Francis from Turfco for great week!


Chris Francis talking about the advantages of the Turfco 1550 Topdresser

Chuck Hicks in his happy place...Running the Verti-Drain Bullet


WJC