An Interview With The Owner Of

by | Mar 13, 2021 | Business, sports

Q) See Golf Supplies provides golf course signage that makes your course appealing and protects it at the same time. We do all this with high-quality, highly visible products that do the job right the first time. Our job is to help you keep your players on the right path so that they will have an enjoyable and memorable experience at your golf course so you can enjoy the benefit of repeat customers.
A) See Golf Supplies is located in Cedar Rapids Iowa, the heart of the midwest. This location has access to all forms of shipping and transportation avenues which gives us the ability to quickly and efficiently service our customers locally and across the nation.

Q) Our golf supply team has well-rounded backgrounds that puts us in the unique position to provide superior products and service to our customers. Through the knowledge of our team we create products that are practical and functional.
A) Bob has over 26 years experience as owner, manager and president running successful multi-million dollar businesses. This experience includes contract negotiations, project management and product quality control. Bob has stood behind his products and service with such precision and reliability that he received the Outstanding Member Of The Year Award presented by his peers.

Mike has over 25 years of hands-on golf course maintenance experience, including over 15 years as a golf course superintendent. His catalog of knowledge includes greenskeeping, tee placement, fairway maintenance, hazard construction, sprinkler setup and repair, certified chemical applications, and course equipment repair. Mike is not only an accomplished golf course superintendent, but he has the distinction of being the only State Golf Champion from his high school in the state of Iowa. In addition to his golfing background, Mike also creates websites and does product development through 3D printer applications.

Samantha has 11 years experience in customer service and retail industries. She has managed in-store transactions as well as internet sales. Her expertise lies in customer relations, shipping and packaging coordination. Samantha also handles the company social media platforms and correspondence. Samantha also has a record-setting golfing background having finished in the top 4 places of each of the 24 tournaments she participated in, including 12 1st place trophies.

Q) While playing several rounds of golf together, Mike commented to me on the lack of directional and avoidance signs on many of the golf courses. This caused many a golfer to drive their carts through wet areas or seeded areas creating ruts and more maintenance work. What’s the reason for the lack of signage? Mike explained that many of the signs were too costly which the course superintendents could not justify. That’s when we came up with the idea of making highly visible, high-quality, affordable signs. Not only that. We wanted them to be multi-purpose. So we created the 3-way sign. 3 Directional signs for the cost of one! Plus we wanted all the products to be made in the USA.
A) First, put this quote from Mark Twain on your desk, “The secret to getting ahead is getting started.”
Second, make all the connections with people and mentors you can.
Third, never give up – never surrender.

Q) Organization, the determination to be successful and communication.
A) I work between 10-12 hours a day, although many times it has been 16.

Q) A willingness to satisfy a customer’s need. Connection with the right people. And a lot of help from my friends.
A) The marketing aspect of the business was the hardest for me, since I didn’t have much background in this area. I started out by contacting area advertising agencies, but found them way too expensive for a start-up business. I then contacted business friends, associates and community colleges. All these contacts helped immensely. I settled in on a google access website as my main focus and complementing that with social media connections and direct mailing with call-to-action messaging.

Q) Our business is self-funded. By that I mean, don’t quit your day job. Most of us were working other, unrelated jobs, while bulding our business. We took no salary and kept our expenses to a minimum. We all invested our own expertise, built up our knowledge and experience, created our own website, used our own 3D printer to develop prototype products and devoted much of our time.
A) Success comes by filling a customer’s need. But more importantly by being reliable so the customer always knows they can come to you for quick action, positive results, good products and a fair deal. Providing those tangible and intangible services creates customer loyalty, which creates long-term success.

Q) Our goal is to design, develop, market and distribute products to meet our client’s goals for the benefit of our customers. We provide affordable necessities so the customer can enjoy the luxuries of life. To that end, we hope to provide a range of golf course products so that in 5-10 years, See Golf Supplies will be a household name associated with quality reliable products.
A) I admire Amazon for their organization, reliability and quick action.

Q) To get loyal customers you need loyal employees. Loyal employees will try harder. They realize it is not about punching a clock. They will do what it takes to get the job done and done right. These employees realize that is it the customer who really pays their salary and makes them successful.
A) I’m like a camel. Or is it an elephant. When I get an idea I will try every angle to make it come to life. Like the camel, I will go on for some time, using all my thoughts and resources. Like the elephant I remember contacts, resources and friends that have made me successful in the past and can help me again. After all, everyone has ideas but until they are real, until they are products – they are just ideas.

The thrill of accomplishment. The excitement of providing for the customer something no one else does, or wants to. Creating friendships with customers. To be an honest, straight-forward businessman who will sacrifice much and give more to see the customers and employees satisfied and content. To be the one person, the one company, everyone can go to for the right answers and assistance when they need it most.

Q) Ideas have come to me in some of the strangest places. But mainly in observing products and how they function. How can we make a simple boring task into an exciting and useful product? Did you ever hear someone say, “I wish someone would just make a product to do this.” That is where ideas start. Where they finish depends on you.
A) Listen to your employees, your customers and your experts. Success is making other people successful. And remembering that goals are meant to be exceeded and deadlines are meant to be met. I also like Winston Churchill’s approach, “A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees opportunity in every difficulty.”

Q) I’ve performed my duties honestly, professionally and to the best of my ability. Customers tend to choose products according to cost and not according to their reliability or the products ability to cope with uncertainties. The trick is to give the customer a product, and company, that is reliable thus saving them cost and taking away the uncertainties.
A) My favorite part of being an entrepreneur is successful problem-solving for our company and customers. By fulfilling a customer’s need, we have solved their problem.

Q) Developing new market areas. Being recognized by satisfied customers. Accomplishing tasks no one else could do.
A) Some of it involves luck, but making your own luck also. Beyond that there is a determination to win, to seek opportunities, to make your dreams come true, working hard and not to settle for anything less.

Q) Creative democracy with independent thinking. Everyone’s input is important and everyone’s ideas are worth listening to. That is what makes us strong and successful. No one can do this job on their own. Knowing that it takes all of us to do the job right, to take an idea, discuss it, refine it and develop it gives everyone a feeling of contribution. It is the right thing to do.
A) Dependability! And remembering that success is never final and failure is rarely fatal.

Q) I would not change anything about my first career, my home life, where I was raised or how things turned out.
A) Being an entrepreneur means many hours of concentration, research, customer contacts and negotiations and being “on call”. I usually kept my “normal” business hours and then spend family time. However this often meant working “odd” business hours to take care of the unexpected. Since the unexpected doesn’t always coincide with business time. I always make sure the “special” family gatherings are tended to first.

Q) Getting all the pieces together and working, so the business will continue. I rely on past experience, employees, mentors, friends and creating my own luck.
A) Our business location seemed logical because of golf courses in our area, cost of living, the employee work ethic, transportation and communication connections and being familiar with the area.

Q) I believe there are many things you must do to become successful. You can’t wait for “it” to happen. You must be proactive, be prepared, work when everyone else is sleeping and don’t take any success for granted.
A) Who, from history, would I like to talk to. That is a tough one. I am fascinated with the industrial age and the people who “Built America”. Henry Ford was interesting because of all the components, materials and manpower he assembled to build the automobile industry. I would like to ask what was his inspiration? Where did he get his ideas? And how did he overcome obstacles?

Q) My inspiration comes from very local, very down-home connections. Early on I was impressed by how my employers would handle problems. They could take a seemingly impossible situation and work it to a successful conclusion – and make it look easy. I think that inspired me the most so that whenever I handle a situation, no matter how difficult it seems, I want those involved to think the solution came very easy to me. Therefore some of those who have been the greatest influence to me would be my parents, my business partners and my mentors.
A) Some of my favorite books are about World War II. I think the Battle of Midway is fascinating from the organization and planning aspect, the ability to adjust the plan as things change and taking advantage of the luck you are given.

Q) I think my biggest mistake was thinking that everyone would see things my way. Not asking the difficult questions of myself, my approach, my products. Counting too much on luck and not enough on research and preparation.
A) I think education, preparation and getting the facts are the keys to preventing mistakes and successful damage control.

Now I like to do all the research I can and gather more information about my competition than they know about themselves. I don’t like to complain about a problem without finding a solution.

I enjoy working outside on my acreage, cleaning up the treed areas, making more productive ground and generally making it a better place for nature and people to enjoy.

Kathy and I love to entertain friends and neighbors, and that makes us happy. Accomplishing a goal whether personal or professional makes me happy. Enjoying what life has to offer makes me happy. And especially being with my wife, Kathy, and making her happy.

For me, being an entrepreneur requires concentration and focus. There are times when that focus conflicts with family arrangements or when it involves special attention requiring long hours and adjusting schedules. But those sacrifices have also turned into my greatest joy. The joy of satisfying a clients needs by accomplishing tasks they were not able to do.

Q) What would be your advice for starting a business?
A) Go into it with all the energy you have.
Be so busy that you don’t have time to think of anything but success.
Pay attention to details.
Problems will always come up. It is how you handle the problems that define your success.

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