Golf Retailing Editor Dan Owen caught up with Richard Double, Supply & Demand Planning Manager for TaylorMade Golf to discuss his journey with the brand and a behind the scenes look at how to plan for increased demand.
Tell us about your role at TaylorMade?
As the manager of the Demand and Supply Planning, my team and I are responsible for purchasing all our products. From assembled golf clubs, golf balls, and bags down to the components of our custom offerings such as the heads, shafts, grips, and even ferrules and head weights. We also look after the end-to-end supply chain, tracking shipments very closely and monitoring any fluctuations to ensure that the supply dating is as accurate as possible. I, along with other key stakeholders in the business are responsible for building our forecasts.
How did you begin your journey with TaylorMade, and how have you progressed to your current role?
I joined in March 2013, just off the back of the 2012 boom from RBZ and R11 – white metalwoods. It was an incredible time to join the company as the energy in the office was amazing. I actually missed out on a job initially, then just a couple of months later, I was contacted by HR, who offered me an interview. I was successful and joined TaylorMade as a Sales and Service Representative.
I am now in my sixth position at TaylorMade. After a successful stint in customer service, I moved into the Materials Planning team, where I looked after purchasing all clubs and components. The role then adapted to become a Demand Planner, which meant I was now responsible for re-forecasting our plans. I then progressed to the role of Senior Demand Planner as I took on the responsibility of reporting into our global headquarters in Carlsbad, before now looking after the Demand and Supply Planning team for all categories. We recently expanded our team of three to a team of five.
What’s your favourite part of the job?
In my role I get to speak with every department in the business. It is a very collaborative role, and I love that. I also love the forward planning aspect of the role as well, building plans from scratch and then executing them is very rewarding. We have just recently submitted our initial plans for 2022.
How has materials planning changed since you first started at the company?
The big changes came once we started working closely with our owners KPS on improving our processes. Around three years ago I kicked off a project to completely re-build our re-forecasting process. Our new process allows us to re-forecast more quickly and more accurately, with multiple data points to back up our decisions, and we have a group of key stakeholders fully engaged to sign off on the plan. This process is now being adopted by the other TaylorMade regions around the globe due to its success.
As comprehensive as our process is, we could not have foreseen the current surge in demand post pandemic. It is quite remarkable. What it did allow us to do was react quicker. For 2021, we increased our plans considerably just weeks after our budget for 2021 was locked in at the end of Q3 last year.
Golf is in a boom right now, how are you able to plan for such an increase in demand?
We are having to plan much further out in the future to secure vendor capacity, not only with our own vendors who produce our product, but with the third party vendors who produce the shafts and grips that go onto our assembled stock product, and are also used for custom orders. These vendors are having to supply the whole market, not just TaylorMade, so they are getting the full brunt of the boom.
How has the Covid-19 pandemic affected your role and the forecasting and planning of TaylorMade products?
Historically production lead times for shafts and grips were around 28 days, they are now at a minimum 90 days, and some are out at 240 days, so we must plan ahead, and we have done that. In some cases, we have already had to purchase to fill vendor production capacity through Q1 2022. This means we have purchased these items to cover our first half of 2022 sales.
How difficult has it been, and how have you successfully navigated your way through the pandemic?
My team and I are responsible for around 3,000 individual products or components, so forecasting and having to plan and buy to extended lead times only increases the difficulty. Our vendors and third-party vendors alike can only produce and ship so many units in a given month. Since the bounce back last year we have pretty much purchased every unit we can.
What are you doing to try and minimise delays?
We are air shipping nearly 100% of all clubs and components and have been since summer 2020. We do not foresee this changing until 2022. We have also ramped up our custom build capabilities and are now able to build 66% more clubs per day vs pre-pandemic numbers. Our global team have done incredible work behind the scenes to increase vendor output since summer 2020. We are currently tracking to produce 50% more units than originally planned in 2021, which is incredible. We are also working closely with vendors and freight forwarders to book up the very limited air and ocean space early. To be honest, there is not much that we are not doing. If we can improve something by a day, we will take the necessary action to do so.
Do you have any advice for retailers on inventory/stock control?
Plan ahead and pre-book multiple drops. This will give TaylorMade, or any other brand, the visibility of your demand and will help them to fulfil that demand on time. It is also great to have that visibility of your own purchases versus your forecast and help to effectively manage your working capital and cashflow, allowing daily business such as custom club orders to flow through the season whilst you execute a strong plan against your ‘shop stock’.
What are the biggest challenges you face in your role?
Having exceeded our already aggressive forecasts by considerable margins it’s tough to know that because of that very success you have consumers having to wait for their clubs. Having previously been a PGA pro on the other end of this, I know how hard it is to give that message, and that is what drives me every day to do what I can to reduce our lead times.
What’s been your most memorable moment part of the job?
My most memorable moment has to be the 2019 Masters, the buzz in the office that Monday morning after seeing Tiger win the green jacket again was just amazing. No matter how un-related that success was to my personal efforts it felt like a huge reward for the work and passion that the whole company put in each and every day. Well, it did for me as I am a huge Tiger fan. My Son had also just been born in March, so it was his first Masters and it was pretty special to have him in my arms as I watched Tiger walk up the 18th.
It’s a privilege to be a part of Team TaylorMade. To know that the passion I have for the brand and that our objectives are shared by the wider team is amazing. It’s such a collaborative environment and when we get a moment like Tiger in the 2019 Masters, its special to be a part of.
What do you do in your spare time?
I am a keen golfer, currently off scratch but slowly creeping up post lockdown. It’s not been great and looking forward to getting a couple of strokes back. I am married with a 2-year-old son, Harvey. My wife and I love to travel, so we look forward to getting back to that soon. I spend as much time with family as possible; I have four brothers who are my best friends (none of which play golf). One is in Sales, one works with animals, one is a pilot, and one is a professional cyclist. Quite the mix!
Favourite sport/passions outside golf?
If I’m not golfing, I’m cycling. Sadly, in these present times I am an Arsenal fan. I hope for more success in the future.
Favourite golf course you’ve played
Royal County Down
Bucket list golf course you want to play
Has to be Augusta
Finally, What’s In Your Bag?
SIM2 MAX 9.0
SIM2 MAX FW 15.0
SIM2 MAX Res #4
P760 4-PW, MG2 50
MG2 TW 56 & 60
Spider Limited Red (Our first Red Spider – I am very attached to this putter, there is not much left of the grip)
TP5 Golf Ball