July 19, 2002
Tucked away in a quiet little corner of Lewes, Delaware, lies a company with a vibrant connection to foreign trade and golf fashion.
The folks at Cyclonic Golf are about to begin their newest campaign to promote their growing golf shoe business. As they explained it to me in recent interviews, their future looks bright.
New company president Tom Mandel, a part-year Lewes resident, is optimistic about Cyclonic’s chances to expand their share of the $300 million per year golf shoe industry.
“We think the market is really changing. It’s a very mature business in many ways, but we see an increasing emphasis on brand consciousness and emotional appeal. We’re positioning our shoes in psychographic rather than demographic terms. We think of our shoes as performance enhancers.”
Since Cyclonic’s origins a few years ago, the company’s focus has been on its special wide-sole, spikeless designs. In the early models, the bottoms jutted out from the leather uppers, with strategically placed molded treads. The shoes presented a remarkably stable platform look that many golfers agreed matched the shoes’ actual performance out on the course.
The newest designs continue that same wide-sole concept, but differ in two major respects. First, the uppers now align more closely with the outer edge of the soles. Second, and even more important, the company is branching out to soft-spiked shoes, in addition to their spikeless lines.
As Munir Mushooqulah explained it, the expansion into soft spikes was a simple necessity, combined with opportunity. “The spikeless shoe market is only about 15% of the total market. Adding the new spiked designs gives us the chance to go for the rest of the market share.”
Mandel said the company remains committed to its performance philosophy nonetheless. “When we enter the spike market, we want to keep our reputation for producing performance-enhancing shoes. As we add spikes to our lineup, we don’t want to lose the market identity we’ve already established with the broad sole.”
Cyclonic also built a reputation for shoes with, shall we say, a bit more flair than the usual variety. In addition to a few traditional looking styles, Mandel and Mushooquallah proudly displayed several pairs of golf shoes without a trace of saddle in them. As Mandel said with a grin, “We’re looking to de-saddle-ize the golf shoe market.”
One very practical aspect of their design choices is directly related to the fact that they manufacture and then import their finished products from overseas, after first developing the prototypes here. I picked up one black and white model with synthetic mesh uppers. Except for the spikes, it looked like an athletic shoe for tennis or track. When I asked how this model would retain the company’s one-year waterproof guarantee, I was surprised at Mandel’s response.
“That shoe is one of the reasons we do prototypes. You won’t see this style with the mesh fabric on the shelves; here’s why. The import duty on the synthetic mesh fabric is 28%. The import duty for leather is only 8%. We’re going to keep the overall look, but substitute leather for the mesh. We had to insert an inner lining for the waterproofing any way, but by switching the outer fabric we avoid the duty problem.”
In addition to their marketing efforts toward golf professionals, pro shops, and retailers on several continents, the staff at Cyclonic also proudly pointed to the power of word of mouth. Mandel said, “Once they’re on the feet of our customers, our products are our best marketing tool.” Mushooquallah added, “We ship all of our shoe boxes with special tees inside that have our name, our phone number, and our website on them. The owners give the tees to their friends to use to call us with their own order. That works really well.”
The company plans to do a “soft roll-out” of their new shoe lines later this fall. Cape Region golfers interested in an early look can call Cyclonic at 302-644-7001, or visit them on the web at cyclonicgolf.com.