The Dickens Bio:
Reed Dickens is currently Founder and CEO of LA Golf, creator of the most technologically advanced putter and shafts in decades. Dickens & LA Golf partnered with World #1 Dustin Johnson and U.S. Open Champion Bryson DeChambeau to create the fastest growing brand on the PGA Tour and after-market.
The Dickens Story:
To get through college, I sold vacuum cleaners and kitchen knives door to door. I cold called people out of the phonebook to sell water purifiers and then eventually cadmium metal. I sold clothing in a department store. I sold fishing boats even though I had never been on a boat or fished in my life, and eventually had to sell the Iraq war on television in my early twenties.
By the time I started my own company, crafting a compelling message to sell something that I created and believed in is both easy and fun, and I still enjoy every minute of it today.
I often think about the fact that explaining why our putter or shaft is better than the steel brands that I’ve been on the market for decades is so much more fun and easier than demonstrating a vacuum cleaner in a stranger’s home. I feel very fortunate to do what I do and hope that I get to do it for a long time.
You wake up in the morning — what’s the driving passion?
Building something of value that wasn’t there before me.
People meet you for the first time — what one word best captures you?
Interesting — the word I hear the most.
In March 2018, LA Golf acquired Matrix from bankruptcy. What prompted the desire to acquire Matrix and get involved in the golf shafts business?
We just bought the equipment and started LA GOLF from scratch. Just like in baseball where we innovated the tool of the trade, the wooden bat, that hadn’t been innovated in 100 years, the shaft is what drives distance and accuracy, and no one had innovated it in decades.
So, there was an opportunity to innovate a tool of the trade that players make their living with, and no one was rethinking that category.
What specific business lessons were learned from the fall of Matrix and how do you envision LA Golf learning from those missteps and emerging stronger?
There is currently not a comp for what we are building. LA GOLF is an OEM with putters, shafts and balls, and a lifestyle brand with social currency at the same time.
Given the acquisition of Matrix took place prior to COVID-19 exploding globally how has the company fared during the pandemic and what sales projections do you see happening in 2023?
I purchased the assets in 2018, we did not launch LA GOLF until 2021. Then the governor shut down our factories for a year because he’s a moron and doesn’t understand business. So, this is only our second full year in the marketplace, and we’re expecting to triple our revenue and expand into a couple thousand new locations.
LA Golf has expanded its offerings to putters and this year with golf balls. Why the desire to do that and is it likely the production of metal and iron clubheads are on the radar screen?
We are building a luxury brand and partnering with players to create tour level equipment at the same time. When we have new categories to announce, we will announce it.
Two key players — Dustin Johnson and Bryson DeChambeau — use LA Golf Shafts with their clubs. How did those two specific relationships begin?
Bryson wanted to help design his own shafts and I gave him a blank sheet of paper to work with our engineer Jeff Meyer who is the most creative engineer I’ve ever worked with in my career, and the result is the best shafts ever created.
Do endorsements from high profile players still resonate with consumers?
We don’t do endorsements, every one of our players have invested in the company and are involved with every part of our business.
Many companies tout the importance of customer service. Define the term and the approach followed at LA Golf Shafts.
LA GOLF approaches every decision from the perspective of the player because we are partners with the players, so we don’t take a traditional view on customer service.
We service our customers and iterate back-and-forth just like we would with the tour player until we get it right.
If you could change one thing in golf unilaterally – what would it be and why?
I want golf to be innovative and forward-looking to have a broader appeal, whereas the current governing bodies wake up every day to try to figure out how to maintain the status quo. How to make it more difficult and less fun.
You are highly successful in the baseball bat business before acquiring Matrix. How is the golf business different from baseball and what challenges are both similar and different?
Baseball players are always looking forward, golf as a sport tends to always look backward and glorify the status quo, so the inertia of change is much more difficult.
Best advice you ever received. What was it and who was it from?
My Dad always said, “Swing hard, you just might hit it,” and I think that applies in golf as well as business.
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