The Delfino Bio:
I joined Galvin Green in 2021 as Director of Sales. Since joining I’ve facilitated our move into a US-based 3PL warehouse in Miami, FL that will also execute in-house customization streamlined our embroidery process and facilitated the integration of an apparel industry standard order entry platform for our sales team.
This past November I moved into my role as General Manager and for the first time in 3 years, we returned to the PGA show in Orlando, FL, and will be launching our brand at the NY Golf Center in Manhattan this spring. It’s been an exciting 2 years, to say the least.
The Delfino Story:
I grew up in Mamaroneck, NY in Westchester county…the home of some of the most exclusive and oldest clubs in the country. I never played golf and the only time I went near the courses was to sneak on in the winter to go sledding. I knew nothing about golf. I didn’t understand the scoring or the purpose of it.
There was no ball to steal, no tackling, and no running, and the players wore plaid pants and bright shirts with massive collars and sometimes smoked cigarettes when they played. How could that be a sport?
The year I turned 30 Tiger Woods won The Masters and my wife bought me my first set of golf clubs for my birthday. I was a regional manager for the Nike brand and she felt it would be good for me to play with the other managers. The ball went everywhere but straight (if I hit it) and I was never so frustrated and embarrassed. I said words I had not said in years and might have even invented some new ones.
Less than a year later my position was eliminated and the manager for Nike Golf asked me if I would be interested in joining his team as a sales representative. Apparently, being adept at the game was not a requirement and he offered me the job on my last official day.
Over the next 17 years, I managed various combinations of states and key accounts for Nike Golf as an apparel sales representative in the southeast. It was an exciting time at Nike Golf and a tremendous learning experience for me. I was extremely fortunate to have a seasoned sales manager that spent a great deal of time teaching me the golf apparel business and who remains a good friend and resource for me today.
I learned about the game, its history, and the business from the many golf professionals and buyers I’ve gotten to know over the years and have deep respect for what they do and for how difficult their jobs are. I believe the golf professional is the heart of this game and am especially grateful for the ones that saw me on their range at the end of the day and made time to come out and try to fix my swing.
When I was promoted to national accounts to lead the department store business, I was shocked at how quickly I missed working with golf facilities. My job was later rolled into the Nike brand in 2017 and after my retirement from Nike, I joined a small golf apparel company out of NYC as their VP of sales. 18 months later I took advantage of an opportunity with a small lifestyle brand to grow its wholesale golf business as their Director of Sales.
The COVID-19 pandemic shut down shortly followed and at the end of 2020 the decision was made to be a “direct to consumer” brand. I maintained a relationship with GALVIN GREEN and they offered me the opportunity as Director of Sales for North America and, as of December of last year, General Manager. I’ve been working here for 2 years and it feels like 2 weeks.
There is a great deal of brand momentum right now and the support from our home office in Sweden has been incredible. We’ve got a fantastic team of 12 US reps and 3 in Canada as well as an all-star Sales Operations Manager and Customer Service Representative. I can’t wait to see what happens next…and I once thought golf was a silly game and golf courses were for sledding!
When the words Galvin Green are mentioned – what should that convey to consumers?
Highest Quality. Performance. Sustainability. Durability. Made by golfers for golfers. We focus on performance apparel for golf to keep you comfortable in any weather condition.
What impact did the pandemic have and what key lessons were learned as you look ahead to ’23 and beyond?
The pandemic created quite a boost in revenue for golf and, supply chain issues aside, was overall good for the growth of the game since it was one of the few activities we could engage in.
One key lesson as it relates to our industry is that buyers’ time is even more limited and selling virtually either over video chat or with digital catalogs and other tools can be a very efficient and effective (and welcomed) way of selling.
What differentiates Galvin Green from your competition?
Our commitment to high quality and sustainability is significant. All of our waterproof garments are guaranteed 100% waterproof for the life of the garment. Our brand promise is “Never Compromise”.
We don’t compromise quality, our commitment to responsible manufacturing, or the environment for margin points. Our home is Vaxjo, Sweden, which was named the “greenest” city in all of Europe. It’s in our DNA from when we began 30 years ago.
Who is your customer now? And what specific steps are you taking now to expand your visibility to attract new ones such as Millennialls?
Our customer is a committed golfer regardless of age. If you were to equate our brand position to that of an automobile, we would be like a Ferrari…committed to high performance and a fast look which would likely attract a younger consumer.
Millennial consumers are more curious about what they buy, where it’s made, how it’s made, and what it’s made of than consumers of previous generations. For that reason alone, we should be a natural choice for them so we are making sure our sustainability story is told and readily available for them to research.
Galvin Green is actively in the golf industry. How difficult is it to marry both functionality and fashion in the clothing items you produce?
We put function first in everything we do and then our designer has the task of marrying his designs with function. It’s difficult but I think we are doing the best job at it now than ever in the history of the brand and it has been one of the keys to our success these past 2 years.
In approximate percentage terms — what are sales figures in North America, via online efforts, green grass shops, and brick-and-mortar retail outlets?
Our own e-commerce is less than 20% of our total volume in North America. Brick-and-mortar retail is roughly another 20% and less than 10% would go to our online partners and corporate distributor.
The remaining 50% + is all green grass business which includes resort and private clubs. That is in line with the overall golf market numbers where 49% of all golf apparel sales in the US are done at green grass.
Plenty of companies tout the importance of customer service. Define the term and the approach you follow.
This is a high-service business. The green grass retail environment is the most prestigious retail service environment that exists. Our buyers are under immense pressure to perform for their members and the demands put on them are sometimes unreasonable.
Our job is to make them look good. We have to make doing business with us easy, reliable, and fast. If we are difficult, if our product arrives late or wrong, if we don’t answer the phone or e-mail in a timely manner, we lose business. It’s that simple.
What role does customer feedback have on future creation of new products and how does Galvin Green encourage such comments?
We invite comments on our website and we have an open line of communication with our sales team who have been great at passing on feedback. I make it a point to spend time in the field and doing product presentations myself so I can keep my ear close to what end users and buyers say about us.
Biggest challenges — short and long term — are what? And what specific steps are you taking in dealing with both in your role as head of North America for Galvin Green.
In the short term we are changing the way we go to market in the US and that has been a herculean effort over the past few months.
Since the beginning of 2022 we are in the process of moving all inventory to a 3PL in Miami, FL that also had customizing capabilities under the same roof. It has been a massive amount of work but we are finally set to provide the kind of service to our accounts I mentioned earlier.
Additionally we are integrating an industry leading order entry platform for the sales team and our accounts that will make doing business with us much easier as well as embroidery coloring software to speed that process and improve order accuracy. Long term challenge is making sure we have a stable and growing sales team that is committed to focusing on GALVIN GREEN.
The pandemic scared a lot of seasoned veterans into retirement or other lines of work and the ones that remained have a lot on their plates with multiple lines. I think one solution is we (vendors) need to explore is to partner together to create packages of non-competing brands and a base pay to help new reps get started in this business.
Best advice you ever received. What was it and who was it from?
“We aren’t saving lives, these are golf shirts”…. Joe Westby, my mentor and friend from Nike would tell me this every time I got bent out of shape over an order that went wrong or a sale that didn’t happen.
It was a great reminder for me to keep things in perspective so I would always love what I do and not get burnt out. It worked and I pass it on when I can.
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