Jim Grundberg is CEO and owner along with partner Jason Pouliot who purchased and re-launched the SeeMore Putter brand in late 2006. SeeMore has grown into the #1 custom fit putter brand based on its unique market leading alignment technology and a global network of over 500 certified fitters and instructors who are part of our SeeMore Putter Institute. Grundberg has an MBA from Northwestern and an undergraduate degree from Stanford. Prior to acquiring SeeMore, he moved to Nashville to become Chief Marketing Officer and EVP Sales for Gibson Guitar Corporation.
THE GRUNDBERG STORY —
Jason and I moved on from Odyssey Golf, where we had been since the early days, after the brand was absorbed by Callaway Golf in late 1999 with non-compete agreements. I ended up in guitars, trading an office full of putters for an office full of Les Paul’s. Going from monitoring the putter count at a golf major to the electric and acoustic guitar count at the Grammys.
Our first SeeMore moment was watching Payne Stewart win the US Open at Pinehurst in 1999 with this fabulous and visibly different putter. And we’d kept that moment in our minds years later when looking at new opportunities in golf. We realized two of the best young putters on tour were heading to the 2006 Ryder Cup using SeeMore putters — Zach Johnson and Vaughn Taylor. And both coached by Pat O’Brien out of Dallas and before that San Francisco who had been a friend of Payne Stewart and a huge believer in the improved fundamentals and putting performance a SeeMore putter can bring to any player. We met Pat and then Vaughn and Zach and loved their passion for the brand. We were sold.
We bought the company, which was essentially in moth balls at the time, in late 2006. Planned to slowly introduce the benefits of SeeMore to golfers and teachers over the coming years. But the first Major of 2007, the first Major after we bought the company, saw Vaughn Taylor and Zach Johnson taking turns leading the Masters using SeeMore putters on the weekend! And Zach won in one of the most memorable Cinderella stories in tour history, taking our slow launch plans into hyper speed. SeeMore was a diamond in the rough instantly vindicated. 20 years after Payne Stewart’s untimely and tragic passing. The brand Stewart put on the map by becoming the best putter on tour in 1999, has now been used by Zach Johnson in winning 2 more Majors, 13 tournaments, and over $43 million.
You wake up in the morning — what’s the driving passion?
Ignite and refresh the excitement that our most avid customers feel when they realize that we can bring them greater joy in golf through improved putting.
When people are contemplating a putter purchase — what’s the biggest mistake they generally make?
Not realizing how important poor fundamentals are to the putting struggles they are facing. Our team members can fix that.
How does SeeMore differentiate itself from your competitors?
It starts with our simple alignment technology and goes from there. Our customer service team. Our fitting system. Our trained network of instructors. Our “customers as friends” everyday philosophy. We truly love our customers and we think that comes across in our everyday lives.
In approximate percentage terms — how much of the SeeMore sales effort is tied to brick and mortar retail locations, green grass shops and online purchases?
We have great partners at each level – brick and mortar shops, green grass shops, high end custom fit studios, all based on a commitment by our partners to embrace the SeeMore experience and make sure their staff is trained as such. And if a golfer wants to learn about SeeMore and find an authorized partner we will help them do that.
Plenty of companies throughout golf tout customer service as a cornerstone element. Define the term and how SeeMore goes about doing it?
Great customer service is a relationship with our golfing customer friends that always leaves them feeling we value them, and they trust us, now and into the future. We love our customers and become their friends.
What role does customer feedback play in future club development decisions?
We have great communication with our customers via phone calls, social media, tour players — they are customers too — and our trade channel partners. All club development decisions are strictly a response to our customer feedback in one way or another.
How important is product validation at the PGA TOUR level?
It is great if you can get it! In a very competitive environment on tour where the large companies have tremendous marketing budgets to spend on player brand association, our only entrée to the tour is for us to be so unique, so special, so performance oriented, and so good to work with that some of the best players in the world will choose our brand simply because they believe it will make them better and that they will be rewarded in wins and earnings. It certainly limits our playing field, but makes the wins that much sweeter. Our brand in 20 years has won 3 legs of the PGA Tour’s Major Grand Slam — Masters, US Open, British Open — and over 20 PGA Tour wins. Truly astonishing given the circumstances and important to the validation of our brand.
If you could change one thing in golf unilaterally – what would it be and why?
Turn all white stakes to red stakes. I hate the out-of-bounds and lost ball rules. PGA Tour players rarely face these penalties with all of the free drops due to grandstands, etc. Why should the average golfer play by more difficult rules than the tour! Out of bounds slows play and takes the fun away. And take a drop where ball was lost….same thing, 1 stroke penalty.
The major golf organizations — USGA, R&A, PGA of America, PGA TOUR, LPGA — are all seeking ways to attract new players to the game. This is especially so for Millennials, women and minorities. If you were counseling them — what would you recommend be done?
A few simple ideas come to mind. I happen to like playing it forward and more old school style course, shorter, less hazards, easier to walk, and caddie programs for kids to learn the game.
What’s the biggest short and long term challenges facing SeeMore and what actions plans are being developed to deal with both?
Short term is continue to stay the path, which is slow and steady but true to our principles of growing the SeeMore brand through grass roots focus on putter fitting, customization, lessons, and adding partners to our team through the SeeMore Putter Institute (SPi).
Long term continue to dedicate resources to creating great putters, to increasing brand awareness, and building on our marketing strengths to add to and grow SeeMore and new complementary brands to our “Premium Golf Brands” umbrella such as we have done with our recent partnership as the worldwide distributor of Rosemark Putter Grips, and beyond.
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