BACKGROUNDER — Grew up in Illinois in the small town of Hinckley — population 1,100. Played college golf at Waubonsee Community College and earned a business degree at the University of Wisconsin, Oshkosh. Currently lives in Sycamore, IL and is married to Cherie for 15 years and have two boys – Jack (7) and Henry (10).
THE HILAND STORY — I fell in love with golf at a young age and have great memories of making my own courses and hitting shag balls off the barn in my backyard. I am the founder of Diamond Tour Golf, Hurricane Golf and our newest company launched in December 2018 — Sub 70 Golf. I have a true passion to play golf as well and my home courses are Kishwaukee CC in DeKalb, IL and The Dismal River Club in Mullen, NE.
You wake up in the morning — what’s the driving passion?
My family comes first, so I want to be the best dad and husband I can be. After that is to make sure Sub 70 Golf is providing the best service and products for our customers.
What was the genesis for Sub 70 Golf?
I saw that other businesses outside of golf were using the factory direct model, cutting costs and providing outstanding products with top notch service and thought I could apply the same template in the industry I have experience in.
How long from idea conception to actual product development?
About six months, but product development was the process that took the longest. We had to make sure that the products were world-class before we even thought of launching. We spent roughly two years working on the project before a single club was sold.
What distinguishes your products from others doing similarly?
What distinguishes us most is the fact that we offer custom built, tour level quality products at a price point that no one else in the industry comes close to. On top of that, we also offer the absolute best customer service and sales support to every single one of our customers.
Who is your customer?
The passionate golfer who wants to get the most out of their golf budget while also playing high quality, custom-built clubs.
Describe your marketing approach and how you plan for it to succeed against better financed and more well known established brands?
We offer a more customized, personal, purchasing experience. We believe golfers are starting to realize they can get more for their money by purchasing directly from manufacturers. The combination of high quality products, unmatched customer service and significant cost savings is what sets us apart.
Companies routinely tout the importance of customer service. Define the term and the approach Sub 70 Golf takes on this important topic.
Customer service is incredibly important to us at Sub 70. There are two major components to customer service–making sure our customer gets exactly what they need and addressing any issues that may come up before, during or after the purchase process.
We make sure that each customer can work directly with an actual person by phone, email or in person. Customer expectations should be exceeded on every Sub 70 interaction and we do everything we can to make sure each customer receives products that work for their game.
How are you able to offer your club equipment offerings at far lower prices than the major companies?
The factory direct model makes a huge difference. We are able to cut out a number of “middle men” that add their own margins onto the final product cost. We also don’t have multi-million dollar advertising, sponsorship, entertainment, travel, staff and other costs that major golf companies incur and pass onto their customers.
Best advice you ever received — what was it and who from?
From my Dad– “Make sure you associate yourself with quality people in the office and outside of the office as it’s a reflection of who you are.”
The most pressing challenges facing the company — short and long term — is what?
Making sure the golf world knows we are out here and ready to help them improve their game. We are never going to spend $50 million per year in marketing, so it is always going to be a challenge. However, I like where we are heading.
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