ORLANDO – As a competitor, Chip Brewer says he had a guilty little pleasure walking by the Callaway booth at the PGA Merchandise Show.
“Before I got with Callaway and you’d come to the PGA show and they would have no clubs in the booth and a fashion show going on,” said Brewer, who served as president and CEO of Adams Golf from 2002 until taking the same role with Callaway in 2012.
“As a competitor, I’d smile going by because it was clear they lost focus,” he said, promising a buzz booth this year, including the presence of a tank in Callaway space on the show floor.
“You’re going to see see our focus and energy and commitment to the product line,” he said.
“You’re going to see an appeal to the new age media and our commitment to that. You’re going to see a real tank, literally, in the booth, an actual, working tank. We have a product line out called Tank putters,” added Brewer.
“You’re going to see hitting bays, you’re going to see our commitment to the ball business. This (booth) is going to have a ton of energy and be product-focused to the nines. It’s going to be quite a spectacle and fun,” he said.
“This is not your father’s Callaway anymore,” said Brewer, determined to make 2014 a turnaround year from what he saw as a competitor compared to what the company produces on his watch.
It hasn’t been easy prior to this year’s edition of the show. Just a few months after Brewer took over in 2012, this happened. In Canada, Bruce Carroll was brought in as general manager a year ago, which you can read about here.
“We had the risk of becoming old, a little bit of a brand that was in the rear view mirror and now, it’s a great turnaround story, we hope,” said Brewer.
“We’ve gone through most of the heavy lifting now,” he added.
“When we started, there was a lot to do. We had to make some decisions that affected people’s lives and we had to get our act together quickly to save this brand and make it great again,” he said.
“I sweated some of those decisions. It wore on me. We had to cut costs and we had to make changes and it’s not easy doing those,” said Brewer, adding that the company has added a new phase.
“As we got through that stage, it’s been some of the most rewarding experiences in my life, working with a team, building a new culture, watching the R&D organization really flex its muscles,” said Brewer.
“That’s why they came to Callaway in the first place. They came to make inspiring golf equipment,” he said.
Research and development, he insists, is a cornerstone of the company. When the company brought back once of its most iconic names with the return of the Big Bertha, it wasn’t simply a marketing ploy. You can read the tech story here.
“I think that would have been a heck of a risk if we hadn’t approached Big Bertha the way we did,” said Brewer, adding that the company actually could have jeopardized one of the biggest names in its history had its sole purpose been marketing over R&D.
“The beauty of what we’re doing is we’re bringing Big Bertha back in concert with some new technologies that are going to move the industry forward,” said Brewer.
“We’re going to set a new standard in performance in this business. We’re bringing it back in technologies that I believe every manufacturer in this industry would give their right arms to be able to do, but we’re doing them first and that’s energizing and exciting,” he said.
Brewer says he feels confident in all aspects of the Callaway business, including marketing, sales, operations and other areas and he says Canadians will notice a difference this year.
“Canada is really important to us. It’s a beautiful market for us, has been for a long time. In the past, we were a dominant brand in Canada and we’ve fallen from that,” he said.
“It’s embarrassing for us. We feel like we should be strong in Canada and are investing accordingly, going forward,” said Brewer, pointing out that over half of company revenues come from outside the U.S.
“I think Canada’s going to see a whole new Callaway in 2014 and I think they’re going to like what they see,” he said.