Growth takes hold for golf club grip maker. By: SHEA, BILL, Crain's Detroit Business, 08821992, 6/9/2014, Vol. 30, Issue 23
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Growth takes hold for golf club grip makerÂ
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SuperStroke sales soar from $700,000 to $15M
Golfers, as a breed, are sometimes known to buy the latest gadgets in desperation to shave strokes from their game, while equipment makers come and go.
If the weekend duffer sees a PGA Tour pro using something new to win tournaments, odds are that equipment manufacturer will see a payday.
That's held true for Wixom-based SuperStroke, a maker of patented ...view middle of the document...
His plan was to exit the golf club manufacturing and sales business in five years and solely concentrate on grips.
"We did it in three years," he said. Tiger Shark was closed.
The concept of the oversized grip intrigued Dingman as a golf product, and he thought SuperStroke could be tweaked into something that would interest touring pros and the buying public.
"The original product was completely different other than the shape," Dingman said. "We liked the technology, but the product wasn't right. We just weren't sold on the design, weight and feel of the grip they had."
PGA golfer K.J. Choi had won twice using the old SuperStroke, giving the concept some cachet among touring pros and the public.
Using the relationships already built from Tiger Shark, and the budding interest in oversized putter grips, Dingman made the right choices in which pro golfers he paid to endorse his grips.
One is 20-year-old phenom Jordan Spieth, the PGA Tour's 2013 rookie of the year and winner of last year's John Deere Classic. He began 2014 in impressive style by finishing tied for second at the iconic Masters Tournament in April using SuperStroke's Flatso Ultra.
The other is Jason Dufner, a 37-year-old three-time PGA Tour winner who won the 2013 PGA Championship last August while using the SuperStroke grip.
Dufner lost the 2011 PGA Championship in a playoff, and the attention on him and his equipment was heightened because the tournament is one of the PGA's four majors.
"The big jump was with Dufner," Dingman said. "It gave us so much visibility. It put us on the map."
Most recently, Dufner finished second after losing in a playoff at the Crowne Plaza Invitational at Colonial on May 24, using a SuperStroke Slim 3.0 17-inch grip on his Scott Cameron Futura X Dual Balance putter.
SuperStroke also got a boost last year when Phil Mickelson won the British Open while using the company's grips. He's not a paid endorser.
A quarter of PGA touring pros in a given week's tournament are using SuperStroke putter grips, and the company is airing commercials on the Golf Channel featuring Dufner and Spieth touting the product.
"How quickly (SuperStroke has) been able to establish themselves on tour is unbelievable," said Zak Kozuchowski, managing editor of Dearborn-based GolfWRX.com, a golf equipment and news website affiliated with Golf Digest.
SuperStroke has staffers on site at every tournament on all of the pro golf tours - the PGA, LPGA, the developmental Web.com Tour, the Champions Tour for pros 50 and older, and tours in Europe and Korea, Dingman said.
"We have a guy on the PGA Tour; Monday through Wednesday he's standing on the putting green, getting them product, letting them test it," he said. "The relationships start on the putting green when they're out playing their practice rounds."
Dingman struck gold with the putter grips as a business because regular golfers typically will own several putters, Kozuchowski said.
"These golfers are willing to spend...