I have always been a golfer. My father introduced me to the game at age 10 and I have been hooked ever since. Through his guidance I learned the true values of golf; honesty, integrity, hard work, self reliance and developing confidence. The love for the game and competition as shaped my desire to be a part of golf and these guiding principals have helped shaped me both professionally and personally.
Through my 30 year plus career in golf I have experienced the game as a collegiate player, P.G.A. Golf Professional, golf company sales representative and sales manager. I have had the privilege to work for some of the top brands in the game in a variety of capacities.
My enthusiasms and energy for the game and the business of golf is something that I am very passionate about. I am often teased by my peers as the “idea guy” and have found that the personal relationships I have developed from the business side of golf is quite rewarding. My comprehensive and diverse background is now serving me well in helping develop the Hirzl glove brand.
Matt Ward: Hirzl has made major strides in the last few years — what’s been the key in getting attention and growth ?
Steve Gray: We provide a truly innovative product with customer service that is second to none. Of course having big names like Dave Pelz and Tim Burke doesn’t hurt either.
MW: Where is the product produced?
SG: Our gloves are produced in Indonesia while our company is founded and headquartered in Switzerland.
MW: What’s the percentage of your total sales carried out via Website purchases ? Are you actively involved in expanding your presence via green grass shops?
SG: I would say roughly 20% of our sales are through internet retailers. We also have an ever-expanding group of quality sales representatives that help us carry our message to green grass and off course shops.
MW: Footjoy is the leading player in the glove category — with roughly 45% of the market — how do smaller-sized companies deal with that reality?
SG: We approach this with a totally technical product based on maintained playing performance. We are looking for the player who wants better GRIPPP ™ and longer durability.
MW: Clearly, many products opt to use tour players as a means to convey to the consumer overall credibility. Does such a route still work and will Hirzl pursue it aggressively?
SG: We are not convinced that simply have tour players works for a stand alone glove company. Thusly we have opted for the sensation of Long Drive players. We will always look at the tour for the right fit.
MW: Tim Burke, the 2013 Long Distance Champ, uses the product. How does having the game’s longest hitter play into your overall brand development?
SG: With 150+ mph club head speed, good grip is imperative. We are honored to have Tim and all of our other long drivers playing our glove as testament to that.
MW: The Soffft flex is the company’s premium offering — and the price point is roughly $25 — what is the profile of the person who opts for your product in that specific area?
SG: Our philosophy is based upon the firm belief that gloves are an essential piece of equipment. When you factor in the durability and performance of our products it is a true value proposition.
MW: Diversity of a category item — in this case golf gloves — is something other companies, most notably Foot-Joy has done — it appears Hirzl is doing similarly. Fair to say?
SG: We are a Swiss company dedicated to designing and producing performance gloves. We currently produce three different models and we just introduced our fourth glove in January, the Hirzl Hybrid.
MW: Many golfers are often frustrated on the shelf life of a premium glove — even when they take all the crucial steps to extend its usage. Give me a good idea on how long a premium Hirzl glove can last when treated with proper care?
SG: In general you should expect your Hirzl to last about five times longer than what you are used to. Especially our Trust Control and Trust Feel models which feature very durable kangaroo leather.
MW: What future trends do you see happening in golf glove development?
SG: We see a move to follow what HIRZL is has developed, longer lasting grip and durability performance gloves thru the use new natural and synthetic materials and production treatments.