Founder and CEO
VA Composites, LLC
Victor Afable has really only known the golf industry. Starting his golf career over 35 years ago at Aldila, he has also held different positions at Golf Pride, Fujikura, Royal Precision, Graphite Design, and OBAN, a company that he started almost 10 years ago. In January 2017, venturing on his own, Afable launched VA Composites, with the promise to deliver innovative composite technology and performance along with unique designs to the shaft world.
THE AFABLE STORY —
I grew up around golf and started playing golf at an early age. My father was a physician and on his way to see patients at the hospital, he would drop me off at the golf course where I hit hundreds of balls everyday. On the days my father couldn’t take me, my mother would fill in and stay at the golf course the entire day as I practiced. I was very active in junior golf and the junior golf programs taught me a lot about the game of golf.
After college, my parents were expecting me to go to Medical School, but I had other plans for my future. I packed up 2 sets of golf clubs into my Nissan 280Z and headed to Florida to play on the Florida Mini Tour. I can still remember their dumbfounded and surprised looks as I drove away. The Mini Tour was very different then and I chuckle that I used to live in a conversion van to support my lifestyle. I was a starving playing professional and learned how difficult it is to make a comfortable living.
As my friends all had great jobs and I was still grinding away at making checks on the mini tour, I decided to look for a job. I was fortunate to be hired by Aldila and was part of one of the first component sales forces in golf. The rest is history and I’ve been in golf sales and marketing my entire career and love it. I have always possessed the entrepreneurial spirit, so it makes sense that I started a company, in the only industry I have known.
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MATT WARD: You were the brainchild of OBAN Shafts — what was the genesis in getting into the golf equipment business?
VICTOR AFABLE: I had hit a pinnacle in my career, but I hadn’t accomplished all I knew I could. My partner and I started OBAN not only in the worst economy, but the golf industry had been in a slow decline for several years at that point as well. However, we viewed those obstacles as pure motivation.
MW: You recently moved on to create VA Composites, LLC — what caused that to happen?
VA: That’s simple – evolution. As all things evolve, I too realized I wanted something more from a branding perspective for a company. I wanted a company with the potential to develop into other aspects of golf and possibly beyond golf. I wanted an all encompassing lifestyle brand and I knew if I was going to fulfill this vision, a new company would be born. My hope is that VA Composites will develop brands that reflect designs and inspiration that make consumers excited.
MW: How does VA Composites differentiate itself from others in the highly competitive shaft category?
VA: Performance. Exotic materials. Proprietary designs. Edgy and “sexy” graphics. Nobody is willing to say they want to make golf equipment sexy, but I am. I want golfers to play our shafts and have an appreciation for our passion for beautifully designed graphics.
MW: What is your branding and marketing strategy in making consumers aware of VA Composites?
VA: I want to be the name and face behind VA Composites. I feel the consumer will have an easier time relating to our brand with a personality and story behind the brand. Organic and word-of-mouth growth is the best kind of growth for us at this point. I am very fortunate to have great relationships with amazing dealers and key OEM executives throughout the world. These dealers have been extremely supportive in the VA Vision and they will be instrumental to our growth. Since our launch 2 months ago, we have acquired dealers throughout the entire US and our global markets include 7 different Southeastern Asian countries, Canada, UK, Spain, South Africa and Australia.
We have also received tremendous support from many online golf forums like: GolfWRX, MyGolfSpy, and The Hackers Paradise. This support has driven brand awareness for consumers and dealers alike.
I encourage anyone who is interested in the latest and greatest from VA, to sign up for our newsletters on our website vashafts.com or follow us on Twitter and Instagram. We have out-of-the-box ideas we want to incorporate in our future strategies. This is the best way to stay updated on new shafts and future initiatives.
MW: What’s the biggest misconception golfers have in regards to shafts?
VA: When trying to find the right shaft, many golfers think they can simply use their swing speed to determine their proper flex, but that’s not enough of the equation. Simply relying on swing speed without factoring in the rest of the variables such as: how much the player loads the shaft, spin, trajectory, and the player’s angle of descent — will almost never give the golfer the most optimum results. When choosing a shaft, it’s imperative for the golfer to get fit on proper equipment with a professional that guides them to the best option for their game. That’s why VA Composites only partners with the best dealers and OEM’s in the world.
MW: If you had to estimate — what percentage of golfers in America are playing with the wrong shafts?
VA: My guess would be a lot. Unfortunately, many golfers don’t know or truly understand the benefits of being fit by a professional club fitter. Therefore, they don’t know what options are out there to enhance their performance.
MW: How critical is it for shafts companies to get validation from the key professional tours?
VA: Validation from tour professionals is always important and helps supports dealer and OEM efforts.
MW: One of the aspects for equipment providers is the role the USGA and R&A plays in what is permitted and not permitted. What’s your take on how things have proceeded in that relationship and where each stands today in their respective roles in going forward?
VA: They both play important roles in the rules for the game of golf. I am hopeful both organizations will create rules enhancing the speed of play, allow equipment that makes the golf easier to play and, as a result, more enjoyable for everyone.
MW: You could change one thing in golf unilaterally — what would it be and why?
VA: During my entire career of 35 years, we’ve always fought the aspects of barrier of entry into golf. I know there are several factors that have kept golf from growing. According to reputable surveys, the number one factor is “its boring”. Other deterrent factors include the time it takes to play — its expensive — and its difficult. The future of golf will be determined by our youth and junior programs. Therefore, I would say the one thing I would change is to make it more affordable for more people to play golf.
MW: Best advice you ever received — what was it and who from?
Came from my wife Heather. At a point in my career when I wanted to make more of an impact in golf and leave a legacy behind, she encouraged me to follow my dream and passion. I will forever be grateful for those words of wisdom.WHAT'S YOUR REACTION?