Editor Dan Owen visited TaylorMade’s Basingstoke HQ for the opening of their new Custom Build Lab. He spoke to TaylorMade’s Global CEO David Abeles and Operations Director Rob Hurst to find out how the lab will revolutionise their custom build program.
TaylorMade are on a mission to become the number one golf brand in custom fitting from the experience golfers receive at retail to how they build equipment and service their customers. The huge expansion to the Custom Build Lab at their Basingstoke HQ is the latest initiative to achieve that goal and is a huge stepping stone for the company, not just in the UK, but worldwide.
“Our mission is to be the best performance golf brand in the world”, explained David Abeles CEO of TaylorMade globally. “Our purpose is to help golfers of all skill levels to play better golf. We believe one of the avenues to do that is through advanced technology like Stealth, P790, or new golf ball technology like Tour Response. The other pathway is to ensure that those products regardless of category are optimised for the players requirements.
“When we really think holistically about enabling golfers to play better, and be the best version of themselves on the golf course it’s a combination of being the innovation leader in golf, and making it a requirement and a priority in the organisation to be the custom leader in the industry as well. That’s the journey that we’re on because we believe we can help golfers improve the way they play.
“The new lab is critically important to our business. It’s the most meaningful investment we’ve made here in the UK in many, many years. When we consider where we’re going to make investments in the company , it’s about how we’re going to create new experiences, or provide better products and services to our customer base, that’s the starting point. We’ve gotten behind that with the new lab, to ensure that we can service the demand for those products, and ultimately provide golfers the opportunity to play the game better with products that are fully customised for them. We’ve built a world class facility that ultimately can create high quality products, on spec, and on time to deliver that experience.”
This is the second major expansion to the TaylorMade Custom Lab in recent years. Within the new move all warehousing that isn’t related to custom builds has been moved offsite, really shifting the focus at Basingstoke. Shelves are stacked high with heads, shafts, and grips ready for the 1000’s of custom clubs built each day. In the custom lab itself, TaylorMade have expanded to create multiple, super-efficient custom build streams that can triple the companies daily output.
“The pandemic created a golf boom that nobody could have anticipated,” explained Rob Hurst, Operations Director at TaylorMade Golf Europe. “With more people playing golf, we’ve had more custom builds to process. We’ve seen unprecedented demand in TaylorMade products. Alongside that we have invested into thousands of custom fitting experience days with retailers up and down the country, this has driven a lot of new business.”
Abeles expanded on this.” Our retail customers are expertly fitting our products every day, ensuring that they create life and energy around the TaylorMade custom fitting experience for golfers.
“The lab is the operational backbone for our retail partners. When they place that order, they have to rely that we can build it and deliver the right products, at the right time. We wanted to ensure that we had an operational function that could stand up and deliver against the expectations and in some cases exceed the expectations of our retailers.
“We’ve come a long way. We have made customer satisfaction a primary initiative and our objective within the custom built facility is 100% perfection rate on product. We’re tracking at 99.7%. So we still have a little ways to go. But we’re getting there. “
Better equipment, delivered faster
It wasn’t in the long distant past that TaylorMade custom sets were built by a handful of staff in a traditional way, and the majority of stock was shipped in pre-built. Those days are long gone. The lab has an incredible production line that is both simple and complex, with a station along every step of the way that has been designed to do each part of the build as accurately and efficiently as possible.
Hurst explained further. “We’ve invested heavily because we want to be the industry leaders in service. For us, good service is about keeping lead times low and quality high. Investing in the Custom Build Lab lets the retailer know they can fit properly, and we will have stock of the components to supply their needs as quickly as possible. We’ve got the staff, the resources, the equipment and the stock to supply them quickly, efficiently, and with a near perfect build quality.
“Over the pandemic years we’ve increased our club build capacity by more than 50%. In the past we were growing our hours to get to our club build target per a month, it was a lot of hard work and a lot of pressure on the custom build team.
“Now one of our new streams can output 750 clubs per day. So one stream is 18 thousand per month, and we have multiple streams which hits our monthly target working our normal hours, while giving us flexibility to produce many more
The importance of TaylorMade Europe
“We’re very fortunate as TaylorMade Europe, especially operationally, that everybody’s willing for change, we see change as a good thing. We have very good staff that have come up with some really good ideas for the overall business. We are constantly thinking about how we can improve. We’ve got the full support of David Silvers, and David Abeles and the senior management team in the US to have the freedom to be able to constantly innovate.
“We’re an organisation that works quickly, when we identify a constraint that may slow us down we find a solution as quickly as possible,” explained Hurst. “And from a business standpoint it was great to get the support in the additional dollars to be able to do it. Basingstoke is the incubator site for our Custom Labs worldwide, so new procedures are tested here then replicated worldwide.
“We work closely with other regions to share best practices. We’ve been able to support the teams in Australia, Korea and Japan in the last two years. We’ve created a new custom build model that has been replicated worldwide.”
The changes being made at TaylorMade in the UK are just the start, as the company looks to improve their custom built golf clubs worldwide. As they look to complete this mission of improvement, we’re lucky that the UK HQ is mission control for the whole operation.