Chuck Thiry is a lifetime golf guy. Started working in golf when 13-years-old and never left it. Began his career in a golf shop but have been in Golf Equipment Sales and Management for the last 34 years. Have held positions with major manufacturers in a wide variety of specialties and responsibilities. Thiry is 58-years-old., married with three grown children.
The Thiry story —
I was fortunate as a boy and as a young man to work under a couple of great PGA Professionals, who for whatever reason, gave me a shot, and took an interest in me. Looking back on it now — I’m surprised they did. I was not a great employee. Through them I learned some great life lessons about responsibility, hard work, dedication, and choosing a career that you were passionate about. I’m not sure that I even realized that they were teaching me those lessons then but as I look back on it now, once I finally matured into a decent human, they really set me on a path that would help me secure a living, doing what I love, for the rest of my life.
While working for that second golf professional, in Southern California, a young sales rep walked into our golf shop. A few months later, as our friendship was growing, he asked me if I had ever considered sales. He helped me get hired in customer service for one of the industry’s hottest companies at the time, and six months later, I had my first sales territory. That was 35 years ago and the rest, as they say, is history. I’m a lucky guy.
You wake up in the morning — what’s the driving passion?
I sell golf clubs for a living. Every guy in my neighborhood would like to be me. I started out as a golfer and over the years have made sales my craft. I work hard at it, take pride in it, and still get a huge thrill out of making a sale. I love turning new or small customers into large customers. As that process evolves. I almost always end up with a new friend.
What differentiates the XXIO brand from others in the golf equipment category?
Everything. There is nothing in golf quite like XXIO. Different — is exactly what we try to be. Because we focus on average players and not tour players, from the very beginning, we approach every process differently. That includes the design of the product, the engineering, the manufacturing, the distribution philosophy, the marketing, the events — all of it. It’s all very different than what you typically see in the market. We think highly of and respect the other brands in golf but the reality is the industry doesn’t need another one. It needs brands that think different.
Who is the XXIO customer?
We are 100% focused on moderate swing speed men and women. Typically those are people who swing below 90 mph, which includes about half of the male golfers and most of the female golfers. Those golfers need speed in their game more than anything else and nothing can give them speed like lightweight-high balance point equipment and XXIO does lightweight-high balance point, better than anybody else in golf.
What’s the fundamental premise with your launches of XXIO Eleven and X XXIO?
We are extremely excited about both products. XXIO X is new to the US and we think it’ll really open up the market for us in terms of moderate swing speed better players.There are a ton of single digit players out there who don’t swing it as fast as they did a few years ago. We’ve got an amazing product for them. As far as Eleven is concerned, the big break through is Weight Plus. By adding weight to the butt end of the club we are counter balancing it. That moves the balance point in the club even further toward the grip end. When you combine Lightweight with High Balance point the game just get’s easier. It really does.
So our main focus for the launch will be putting the clubs in as many hands as possible. We’ve bulked up our team big time to promote events and trial. Thousands more people will hit XXIO in 2020 than have ever hit them before. We believe that once they try us — well — they’ll see. There’s nothing in golf quite like the first time you hit a XXIO club. They truly are different.
Equipment companies routinely use abbreviated time cycles for new launches. Do such cycles cannibalize preceding equipment lines and serve only to confuse consumers and irritate those needing to clear inventory?
Yes. XXIO always has and will continue to have strict two year life cycles. We don’t vary from that.
Give a letter grade on the overall health of the golf equipment industry. What’s the biggest concern you see impacting growth for 2020 and beyond?
B+. I think we are in better shape than people realize. Over the past ten years the industry has kind of “right sized.” Those that survived the tough years, whether they be equipment companies, retailers, or golf courses, are now starting to capitalize on the new economics of the industry. The game is a little smaller but those still standing are healthier. Biggest concern — for me it’s almost always weather. We are coming off of two terrible springs in the United States. Huge amounts of rainfall and tons of golf cancelled. I think the pieces are in place for a very good year if we catch a break in April, May, and June.
Do professional golfer endorsements — from both PGA and LPGA Tours — matter to consumers and add to a company’s bottom line?
Great question — a tough one and a dangerous question. I would say — yes — they certainly matter to consumers, as far as how much, and what the return on investment is, tough to measure.Those telling you they have it totally figured out — are probably lying.
Plenty of companies routinely tout the importance of customer service. Define the term and the approach followed at XXIO.
It’s been a XXIO focus from day one. Our delivery schedule is generally strong. Our warranty programs are solid. Our face to face consumer interaction at the point of sale is extremely good, perhaps the best in the industry. We’ve bulked up our team, both inside and out. We charge a little more than most for our products and we’ve always felt that with that price tag comes a responsibility to better service both our customers and our consumers. I’m very pleased with what we’ve achieved so far but realistically you should never really be satisfied with your service should you? The journey to better never really ends — or at least it shouldn’t.
What role should the USGA and R&A play in equipment matters and if strong action is taken impacting existing club usage would XXIO comply accordingly?
We are supporters of both organizations and we respect them as the governing bodies of our sport. We don’t think they’ll do anything that restricts our ability to help golfers enjoy the game and unless they do, we’ll always support them and most likely comply.
Biggest challenges facing XXIO — short and long term is what?
Staying the course. We’ve accomplished a lot in a short period of time by being very focused on our core moderate swing speed player. The bigger you get the more pressure there is on you to grow even more or to try to be all things to all people. We’ve found a space in the game where we cannot only play, but where we can outplay the competitors. It’s important that we stay in our lane and continue to focus on making the game easier to play for moderate swing speed players.
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All photos courtesy of XXIO