Richard Fryer has been with FootJoy for 11 years, working in sales, marketing and now in product management. He is responsible for managing the direction and creativity of FootJoy’s footwear globally, while working closely with the marketing and sales teams to bring new products to market.
THE FRYER STORY —
The first golf I remember was watching Nick Faldo beat Greg Norman at the US Masters, and as I started playing golf as a teenager, I knew I had “the bug.” I naively thought it would be straightforward to get into the golf industry once graduating from university, but soon realized it was a highly desirable industry with no shortage of applicants for the few jobs available. I got my lucky break with an opportunity at Acushnet in 2006 where I ran the Cobra demo day schedule for the South of the UK, and then moved to the FJ side in 2007. Through a combination of hard work and good luck I was able to progress through the ranks and continue to count myself lucky to be working for the #1 shoe in golf.
You wake up in the morning — what’s the driving passion?
Wanting to make the existing, better. Develop people and product to deliver on product and brand goals.
What was the genesis for the creation of the 1857 collection?
There is a segment of the golf community that yearns for an authentic product line that delivers luxury performance for golf. We recognized this as an opportunity and leaned on our heritage, product leadership and values established over 160 years ago to create the FJ 1857 Collection. We wanted to provide a shoe and apparel line that brought the finest craftsmanship to the market that also appealed to the most discerning golfer both on and off the course.
In your promotional materials you mentioned the connection to Brockton, MA — where is the latest rendition of shoes manufactured?
As the idea of the 1857 line was born, we knew our mission was to create the highest quality product possible. This led us on a worldwide search to source the most elite shoemakers who still practiced the time-honored manufacturing processes this product demands, whilst ensuring that the product was worthy of bearing the FJ stamp. We were lucky to find incredible partners in both Italy and Portugal that were able to deliver to this high standard.
What separates the 1857 shoes from your competitors and from what FootJoy has previously produced?
The FJ 1857 Collection is hand-crafted by the best shoemakers in the world who use a long-established, “old world” method that includes a 150-step process to produce the finest quality footwear for today’s most discerning golfer.
Many companies tout customer service as being a major element in their success. Define the term and how FootJoy approaches the topic?
We look at our customers as partners and want to deliver value in a host of different ways: from creating market leading product, to driving consumer demand, to investing in hundreds of thousands of pairs of replenishment product to support our partners’ business, to offering customization on our products and bespoke programs to deliver a strong return on investment. We have one of the largest field sales teams and inside sales teams in golf, who play the role of a trusted business advisor to ensure our retail partners succeed year after year.
What is the FootJoy approach to blending style and comfort in golf shoe creation?
One of our philosophies has always been to fuse fashion with function. Through our partnership with a family-owned manufacturer in Europe, FootJoy utilizes a time-tested shoemaking process for creating world-class Goodyear welted footwear. 1857 footwear models feature hand-selected premium Italian calfskin leathers, leather outsoles, full leather linings, suede heel pockets and cork-layered fit-beds for molded, custom comfort.
The overall golf market is rapidly changing as Millennials become the key consumer force. Is there a difference in customer preferences between Millennials and Baby Boomers?
Both groups have a number of similar demands – quality and value at the top of the list. Of course, value does not always mean low-price, but both groups are happy to invest in quality product when the product and the benefit warrant it. The biggest difference is that Millennials expect new and improved on a more frequent basis, a trend which is not unique to golf.
If you could change one thing in golf unilaterally — what would it be and why?
There are a number of great programs in place around the world to get juniors into the game – I’d love to see a better next step to continue young golfers’ golfing careers and for golf clubs to embrace them and welcome them into the heart of the local golfing community.
FootJoy has been the category leader in shoes and golf gloves for quite some time. What are the short and long term challenges facing the company?
If you’re the dominant market leader you immediately become to primary target for all of your competitors, who offer a variety of different styles and looks. We have a wonderfully elastic brand and are able to cater for all golfers’ tastes, whilst always delivering trusted golf performance. Our long-term challenge is ensuring we continue to lead – delivering unexpected innovation to golfers around the world.
Best advice you ever received — what was it and who from?
Every Day is an interview day. I can’t remember who it was from, but we all touch numerous individuals on a daily basis and influence others more widely than we perhaps realize.
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