Steve Hendren, President of Galvin Green USA, joined the team in 2017 and facilitated the opening of Galvin Green’s new headquarters in Carlsbad, California. Boasting more than 15 years of industry experience, Hendren began his career as a Regional Manager with Worldwide Golf Enterprises, eventually joining Nike Golf as a Regional Sales Director and Director of Strategic Accounts. Among his responsibilities, Hendren managed key accounts in golf and sporting goods and directed a sales team.
THE HENDREN STORY
I started playing golf when I was 12 years old. My parents were members at a tennis club in Orange County, CA that had a 9-hole executive course and driving range. They put me into a junior camp one summer, and I immediately fell in love with the game. My mom would drop my childhood best friend and I off at the course and we would go out and play as many holes as we could before they had to pick us up. I played as often as I could through high school with that same childhood friend, and my father, who picked up the game shortly after I did.
I played college baseball at West Virginia University, which limited the amount of time I had to play golf. Right after graduation, a few days after moving back home to Southern California, I was at Roger Dunn Golf Shop in Santa Ana and decided to fill out an application, thinking it would be fun to work there until I figured out what I wanted to do with my life. I was hired as a cashier but fell in love with the industry and the company and spent the next 10 years there, the last five of which I was a regional manager in Northern California and Hawaii. I was fortunate to be involved in nearly every aspect of the business and got to learn a lot about the industry and business in general.
After 10 years, I was approached about an opportunity with Nike Golf. I spent seven years with them as a sales rep, regional sales director, and strategic account director, learning the differences in working for a relatively small, privately owned company and a multi-national corporation. We went through several changes during my tenure there, which helped me understand the uniqueness of the golf industry and how valuable it is to be authentic to the game.
This past December, I was given the opportunity to lead the U.S. operation for Galvin Green. After meeting the leadership team in Sweden, getting to know the products, the people, and the culture, it was an easy and exciting decision to make the move. Galvin Green is a pure golf brand, with a 27-year history in the golf business and a strong loyal consumer base. We’re rooted in golf and our brand vision is clear, to be the leading premium performance brand in golf.
Describe the Galvin Green customer.
The average Galvin Green customer is a golfer, first and foremost. We’re proud of the fact that our products are developed by golfers, for golfers. Beyond that, the Galvin Green consumer is someone who expects the best in quality and performance, and who takes pride in the brands they own and wear.
A number of companies tout their connection to buyers via a top tier customer service effort. Many claim as much — but few really excel at it. Define the term “customer service” and the approach taken by Galvin Green.
Customer service commitment starts with the consumer. We consider ourselves the leading premium performance apparel brand in golf and we must perform up to those standards in every aspect of our business. We have a very loyal consumer base that expects the best quality and performance in every Galvin Green product they purchase. We’re committed to resolving any challenges quickly and meeting or exceeding our consumers’ expectations. We’re the only brand in golf to carry a lifetime guarantee on all our GORE-TEX® products, which is more proof of our commitment to the consumer.
We value our account relationships as long-term partnerships. We’re selective in who we partner with at retail and we strive to be the best and most effective partner they work with. We’re committed to best-in-class service, providing live and online training for retail associates to ensure they understand the products, what our brand stands for, and how and why we outperform the competition.
Millennials are a big focus for many apparel-oriented companies. What’s the key in getting this group to favor a specific brand?
We utilize our tour players, key accounts and other Galvin Green ambassadors to increase our exposure on social media, but our reputation was built on great products and word of mouth. As we evolve and millennials become a larger percentage of the consumer base, we’ll need to be even more focused on social media.
The biggest mistake men and women make when deciding upon apparel items is what?
Sacrificing performance. Fashion and style are important, but so is function. We are a pure golf brand and the attention to detail in our garments is what helps us stand out. Our motto is “We Never Compromise” and we’re continually innovating to ensure we continue to make the best-performing golf products on the market.
Galvin Green will be the official apparel line for the European Ryder Cup team for the matches later this year in Paris. What does having that platform mean for the company and its overall brand?
Being selected is a true validation of our brand and products. The Ryder Cup is the most important event many of these players will ever play in, and the captains can get scrutinized with every decision they make on and off the course. They trust our brand. Depending on the weather, we could be the most important equipment they have that week so it means a great deal to us to be their brand of choice, and the event provides great exposure for our brand.
If you could change one thing in golf unilaterally — what would it be and why?
The length of time it takes to play a round remains a great challenge. Promoting 9-hole rounds and hosting interactive events, outside of the traditional 18-hole match, opens the game up to new players. Topgolf has done a nice job creating a fun experience in a non-traditional golf way that has introduced golf to a lot of new players.
Galvin Green plays a role in making the game more exciting as well. Golfers take pride in what they wear while playing and it’s our responsibility to innovate and bring new products to the market giving golfers a reason to get excited to play.
How much of a factor for apparel companies does having or not having high profile endorsements from golfers on the professional tours matter?
We value our tour relationships in a different way. We don’t evaluate players solely on world ranking and we’re not looking to partner with players seeking the highest endorsement deal they can find. We look for opportunities to partner with players who know our brand, value the performance of our products, and ultimately trust that we can help them perform at best. We value the personal relationships and their feedback. When we find the right player that fits this description, it can be impactful.
Among the areas of green grass shops, online sales and those via traditional retail brick and mortar outlets, where do you see the most growth coming for Galvin Green in ’18?
The green grass channel continues to drive our growth in the US market in 2018 and the years ahead. We’re a pure golf brand and we’re laser focused with our distribution model to ensure our brand is represented in the top golf facilities across the country. Since golf is one of the few sports where consumers buy where they play, it’s important for us to be represented in the top courses in the US.
The short and long terms challenges facing Galvin Green is what?
The short-term challenges involve newer, less established companies trying to buy their way into the golf space. We often hear about relatively unknown companies offering free product and making other promises, but they typically don’t last long. We’ve been around for 27 years. The consumer understands the value from Galvin Green. We’re committed to innovation and producing the best product on the market.
Best advice you ever received — what was it and who from?
At an early age my father encouraged me to simply find a job I would like. I remember him telling me about people he knew who made a lot of money but hated working every day. I’m fortunate I get to work in the golf industry and for a great company. I’m passionate about this game – I truly enjoy what I do and the people I get to work with every day.
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