Simon Millington interview

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CEO Golf Brands Inc.
Posted on
April 19, 2024
by
M. James Ward in ,
Estimated reading time: 7 minutes

Background

An Englishman now living in Nevada, Simon Millington is the President & CEO of Golf Brands Inc which he runs with his sons James and David.

A golf industry veteran of nearly 40 years, he has been instrumental in revitalizing some of the most famous names in golf including MacGregor, Ram, Zebra, Teardrop and most recently Ben Hogan.

As an avid golfer he has played golf all around the World and plays off a 5 handicap.

Fun fact – Millington caddied twice for Ian Woosnam in The Masters.

Simon Millington

The Millington Story

The brands we have taken on have history, heritage and over 70 Major wins between them. These brands were the greatest brands when I started in the industry and to own them is first and foremost an incredible honor.

We have the expertise to bring the brands to market and there is an enormous amount of goodwill in the golf industry to see them re-established with a future based on the same as every other brand – innovation, invention, and quality.

We’re off to a great start and I’m delighted to say there are plenty of distributors and retailers around the world that want to join us on the journey.

***

You wake up in the morning – what's the driving passion?

Driving the business forward – which means developing new products, looking for new opportunities and making them happen.

What specific steps are you taking to reintroduce golfers to the next chapter in such previously successful brands as Ram, Zebra Teardrop, MacGregor, and Ben Hogan.

It’s all about Brand Elevation – taking the brands to the next level through careful innovation and development, taking the time to produce great quality products that perform, and we have a great track record of doing this.

Our direct-to-consumer approach ensures that the full spectrum of products can be seen through our social/communication channels, and we have great relationships with the golf media who are keen feature the products and place them in front of their audiences. Many younger golfers who are not aware of the brands are being introduced to them every week.

MacGregor MTMilled 7 iron Satin - Simon Millington interview

Who is your customer?

The obvious answer is - all golfers. We have products for every level of golfer – better player, game improver, entry level, ladies and junior - right across the playing spectrum and we have accessories to match.

We also have large numbers of loyal fans that eagerly await the new ranges but there are increasing numbers of new fans that see the products online and through the various media outlets that are putting product in their bag.

 

You just recently participated in the PGA Show in Orlando. What was the reception and what kind of momentum was generated?

The PGA Show was great for us. The relaunch of Ben Hogan went extremely well with meetings every day with retailers and distributors from all around the world, it was great to talk them through the enormous opportunities that the new range offers.

New products from MacGregor, Ram, Zebra, and the new Teardrop were also extremely well received, especially after launching so successfully at the PGA Show the previous year.

Ben Hogan PTxTour

Companies routinely tout the importance of customer service. Define the term and the approach you and your team follow.

The profile and quality of our brands means that customer expectations are high when there is any direct interaction, so we endeavor to make sure service is quick, thorough, and polite. Bottom line is Customer is King.

 

How important is the North American market and what specific steps are you taking to re-introduce the brands with a newer generation of players?

As we are headquartered in the USA and it is our largest market it is naturally very important for us. That said we sell and distribute around the world and treat every country with the same respect, irrespective of the size of revenues. Luckily great products are appreciated globally!

Growing the numbers of golfers that play the brands is the lifeblood of the company so reaching them in as many different ways as possible is crucial. To that end we have strong partnerships in place that ensures we inform the golf market of the product range through direct contact with the golf media, efficient use of social channels that enables us to geo target markets and regions that we wish to pursue.

However, the best channel will always be word of mouth - i.e. satisfied customers that tell everyone around them of their experience of working with us and playing the brands. That's going really well and it will be down to us to maintain that.

RAM FXT 7iron

How do you encourage customer feedback and what role does it play with your future product development efforts?

All feedback is welcome from retailers to end users and media too. Our web sites have live chat feeds for instant interaction with the brands and we value all feedback. Knowing what we do well is as important as what we don’t do well – both enable us to evaluate systems and processes in order to provide the best product and services we can.

 

If you could change one thing in golf unilaterally – what would it be and why?

I’m going to choose two.

Playing the ball from a divot – even pros find this a trauma (and hate it), so the average golfer hasn’t got a chance. A simple drop doesn’t hold the game up and makes it more enjoyable for everyone.

14 clubs in the bag - these days golfers have access to an increasing number of clubs geared to making hitting the ball easier and more consistently and therefore making the game more enjoyable. Why should golfers be restricted to only 14 clubs when a few more in the bag could improve their game or at the very least provide them with access to a greater number of shot making opportunities? Doesn’t make sense.

The golf equipment market is a very competitive one. How do you envision breaking through the clutter and re-establishing your presence with a new generation of players who may not be anywhere near as familiar with brands.

Back to brand elevation. The brands have to be top of their game in order to compete and that means no compromise in any aspect of the product development – design, components, or technology.

Golf Brands has good history for this and we will continue to work with the very best industry figures to design, create and innovate.

Zebra

The biggest challenges facing your efforts - short and long term are what and what specific strategies are you engaging to deal with both?

The answer is the same for both really – namely maintaining an unrivalled level of service and quality of people throughout the business whether it’s in the office and warehouse or the designers and manufacturers of the products in the ranges. We will continue to be restless in our search for the right people at every level. Get the right people and right products follow.

***

For more info go to:

www.benhogangolf.com

www.ramgolf.com

www.teardropputters.com

www.zebragolf.com

www.macgregorgolf.com

Avatar photo

About M. James Ward

A GWAA and MGWA member, the 66-year-old from the USA has covered golf in all facets since 1980, notably the major championships and other high level events. He has played over 2,000 courses globally and has competed in USGA Championships.

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