Editor Dan Owen caught up with Chris Elson, VP of Sales at Lamkin, at the PGA Merchandise Show to find out about their new distribution deal across Europe and the EU, as well as their latest products for 2020.
Tell us a little about Lamkin?
Lamkin are celebrating their 95th year, we’ve been around a long time, and we’re still family owned. It’s pretty amazing. It’s one of the oldest companies involved in golf. We own our own factories in Mexico and China. We are a strong number 2 in the marketplace, and work with all the major OEM’s. Now our aim is to grow our after-market business.
JS International has just become your Master Distributor across the UK and Europe. What was the reason for the move?
Lamkin’s new value proposition, our foundational premise, is to be the innovation leader in the grip category. We have a lot of new technologies, materials and products to support that claim. We wanted a partner that would collectively with us, embrace that vision and focus in on really trying to get our newer product into the marketplace. Our sales across Europe have been tied to the Crossline, which is a great product, but it’s a 25-year-old design.
With JS International we have a partner that’s not only going to embrace our global vision for the company to be moving forward, but they actually have the infrastructure to execute our vision. We’re making sure that all of their sales agents and distributors are trained up on the product and I really enjoy the fact that it truly is a collaborative relationship. We are very excited about what the future lies between our two companies moving forward.
You talk about innovation, how are you driving that?
Our new models this season all feature Genesis, which is a material that we that we developed about two and a half years ago, that is significantly more durable than any other traditional rubber compound. It also has the unique characteristic of maintaining its fit and form and feel, regardless of weather condition. Whether it’s hot or cold, wet or dry, this grip isn’t going to significantly change its actual feel. Most grips when it gets colder out, they feel harder. Conversely, if it’s really hot and humid out in different parts of the world, they can get a little soft and spongy. Genesis is a unique compound in that regard that it maintains its properties regardless of weather conditions. It’s also much more durable.
What new products have you got for 2020?
Calibrate is a reminder system that is unique and different than any other reminder system that’s currently available to golfers. Our calibrate products are made very differently to our competitors, it is a one-piece production process. Even though this is the most prominent reminder that we have ever made, it’s still USGA and R&A conforming. Even though it’s more prominent, it’s more comfortable feel from a reminder perspective. We’ve added Calibrate to the Sonar Tour, and Sonar Wrap grips. It’s the only wrap grip that has had or has a reminder.
We’ve also developed the ST2 Hybrid with Justin Rose in mind. ST stands for Smooth Tack, which is a preference for Justin, it doesn’t feature the fingerprint technology of the other models. The 2 relates to the bottom hand being the equivalent of two wraps of grip tape thicker for a less tapered feel preferred by many tour players. The upper hand features a half cord section for extra grip, but because of the material of the grip, it doesn’t feel harsh. The key feature for this product, is that the bottom half of the grip, has been designed not to go hard and slick much quicker than the upper part of the grip. This is something we’ve worked hard on having listened to feedback from our retailers about other hybrid grips.
How are you looking to help the retailer?
We’ve recently introduced the first interactive putter grip fitting system. If you wanted to try how a different putter grip would feel like, all you could do was go to a golf shop and pick a putter grip and stand up and kind of wave it around! We came up with the idea of actually giving the consumer the opportunity to actually roll real putts with different putter grips to fit themselves! We’ve taken a putter, cut the top third off the shaft, and using magnets can attach different grips to give the golfer a real feel for a new putter grip. This is part of a really good POS display that will help you sell more grips.
We’ve also got an amazing promo offer coming later in the year that will help both the consumer and the retailer.