Lisa McCullagh President of Scarborough & Tweed
I had been with the managing director of a major investment bank for an impressive thirty minutes, given his whirlwind schedule. I was showing him the custom bags I had designed for his firm. He was excited and bowled over by the selection and even offered slight tweaks to make them better for his needs. I quickly realized this was the fun part of his day — a “shopping trip” in the middle of back-to-back meetings with corporate titans.
He then told me: “I am going to buy a lot of these bags for my firm, but I would really love to see them at my club as well. Why aren¹t you in there? The off-hand comment was the impetus that led to Scarborough & Tweed¹s entrance into the golf market. We knew golf clubs had great apparel offerings and gifts, but we thought there was room for great bags at reasonable prices that would offer clubs the margin they need to make a good profit.
Scarborough & Tweed had already successfully transitioned from our blue chip corporate accounts to universities like Yale, which offer our bags to their buyers. Country clubs were a natural fit for Scarborough & Tweed, since so many of our customers are members who love and champion our bags wherever they go. Our growth strategy was to reach our corporate clients not only where they work, but also where they train, universities and play such as country clubs.
I called the same managing director a couple of months later to tell him I had not only taken his advice and entered the club market, but also I exhibited at the PGA show in Orlando and Scarborough & Tweed won the prestigious, “Best New Product,” award at the show. He was impressed by my quick action and gave me the buyer contact at his club. He told me: “I expect to be buying that saddle bag with leather trim with my club logo within the next couple of weeks.”
MATT WARD: What’s the best lesson you’ve learned in creating your own business?
LISA MCCULLAGH: Always say “yes” to any customer request and then make sure you execute on the customer¹s vision. We live by the Theodore Roosevelt quote: “Whenever you are asked if you can do a job, tell’em, certainly, I can! Then get busy and find out how to do it.”
MW: What makes working in the golf arena compelling?
LM: Golf resorts, clubs and pro shops have high standards, and expect the best quality and service. We are experts at meeting customer expectations, on budget and on deadline.
MW: Describe a Scarborough and Tweed customer?
LM: Scarborough & Tweed customers come from all types of industries from financial services to media to education.
MW: What role does customer feedback have?
LM: Customer feedback drives our business. It is a key factor in product development and customer service protocols.
MW: How do you incorporate customer feedback into your future business decisions?
LM: We take customer feedback into account when we design new bags for our signature bag collection and when identifying fresh items for our line of corporate gifts.
MW: In terms of overall sales — what’s the breakdown percentage wise between green grass shops, brick and mortar locations and online?
LM: We are a business-to-business company, so we don¹t have brick and mortar stores.
MW: What’s the biggest challenge in expanding your overall brand?
LM: Our biggest challenge is staying ahead of new technology, but we¹ve been very successful in this area. We were one of the first corporate gift companies to offer online stores to our clients. We were pioneers in the e-commerce arena. Staying ahead of trends and anticipating customer needs is key.
MW: Interestingly, every bag purchased through your online stores provides for a charitable cause to be supported. What was the impetus that prompted your involvement on this front?
LM: We have always had a corporate philanthropy program.Over the past 24 years, Scarborough & Tweed has supported such organizations as Feeding America, 1% for the Planet, and Girls Inc. with monetary donations. We have also donated more than $1 million in merchandise to World Vision¹s humanitarian relief efforts, joined a campaign to aid the homeless, aligned with vendors that practice fair trade, offered job training to adults with disabilities, and sponsored the Buck Hill Skytop Music Festival. After so many successful years in business, we decided it was time to give back in a big way. So we decided to launch a give back program that tied charitable donations to sales. Our program benefits charities involved in six causes we champion hunger relief, education, health care, veterans, clean drinking water, and inspiring young girls — because we are a woman-owned business. Every item purchased from our online company stores supports a charitable cause. Our custom bags support World Food Program USA. Every bag purchased provides one meal for a child in need.
MW: Getting away from the clutter is a never ending element for company — how do you differentiate yourself in the marketplace to stand above and apart from others?
LM: Our give back program is unique in the marketplace. We also have a long history of providing high-quality, innovative products. Our long-standing relationships with key suppliers and in-house manufacturing allow us to offer affordable prices. And we have never missed a client deadline in 24 years.
MW: You wake up in the morning — a new day beckons — what drives you each and every day?
LM: I am constantly coming up with new ideas to serve our clients better. Every day offers an opportunity to launch a new idea that generates excitement among our clients and staff.
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