Con.Struct enters the golf market
March 3, 2023
Every year the PGA Show attracts new businesses to the golf market to show their stuff.
Con.Struct rented its first-ever Show booth at the 2023 edition, but the company’s apparel heritage was already well-established.
Terence To, VP of Sales and Marketing of AW Chang Corporation, said the parent company began operations in 1989, starting with men’s ties. As the company expanded, it remained focused on men’s wear. Its casual items appear at Men’s Wearhouse and other shops, with the dressier options found at Macy’s and similar stores.
“Golf apparel is the next natural extension of what we were doing already,” To said. “We’ve made some small tweaks to our sportswear lines to handle the movement requirements for golf.”
One interesting element of the Con.Struct story is that it is part of a fully vertically integrated clothing company. That gives Con.Struct a bit of a price advantage.
The company does its own research and design work, creates the fabric, constructs the clothing, and ships to its customers. With a $78 standard price for its polo shirts, Con.Struct therefore obtains a better marginal return. As To said, “That’s also a pricing sweet spot for marketing.”
He also mentioned Con.Struct’s factory in Weihei, China uses only solar power, as well as all recycled polyester for its blended fabrics.
I also met company owner A. W. Chang, who credited digital printing capacity as a major element of their success. “Being able to digitize our printing has been awesome. All the colors pop,” he said. In addition, the new system makes it easier to experiment with color options and other design features. That speeds the process from initial design concept to final product.
“We’re making a lot of good initial contacts” at the Show, “especially among green grass shops,” To said.
The company’s structure gives it an edge on its competition. The remaining challenge is to see if its golf apparel designs also put them ahead in this part of the apparel industry.
INNO-F1 single-rider golf carts
The new INNO-F1 golf carts caused quite a stir at the 2023 PGA Show, both at Demo Day and at the company’s booth at the Orange County Convention Center.
Innodesign Inc. owner/designer Young Kim and I exchanged phone calls and emails before the Show, so I had an idea this might happen.
When I caught up to him again on the Wednesday afternoon of the Show, he was both visibly tired and jubilant at the reaction of golf pros and course owners.
“The crowd reaction was amazing. I heard a lot of ‘Why didn’t I think of it?’ and ‘Wow! I want to have one of these for me!,’” Kim said.
Expressions of interest came from potential sales reps and distributors from within the United States and other countries. Kim said hundreds of Demo Day visitors took test drives, with some putting the cart though tight turns and other maneuvers. Kim said, “One course owner deliberately made a bunch of zigzags. The cart was not only stable but also showed no signs of turf damage from the turnings.”
The design helped, of course. The cart is about 70% of the dimension of the normal two-person cart and also 40% lighter at only 551 pounds. Lighter weight means less damage to the golf course, one of the ways Kim argues his design offers a net maintenance savings for course owners.
I asked about storage, given the cart’s size limitations and with half the designed ridership. Kim’s response was simple. “You don’t need to keep the cart indoors. All you need to do is deal with the battery, and it is easily detachable. You park the carts at the end of the day and move the batteries inside for charging. And if you want to add a shed for the extra carts, that’s a lot cheaper than building a full cart barn.”
Kim also received positive feedback from property owners in communities that permit golf cart use. “A lot of those people ride by themselves all the time, and don’t need the bigger cart,” he said. “The carts already come with headlights and taillights, and just need the turn signals, which is easy to add,” Kim said.
He also said many golfers prefer to ride alone instead of being matched up with someone they don’t know for a potentially awkward 4- to 5-hour ride together. “And you’re not chasing two balls with the same cart, so you save time,” Kim said. “This design changes the business model for golf.”
The lithium battery takes four hours to recharge and will last 36 holes, Kim said.
The cart tops are removable, providing a convertible option, although the conversion process is not something you would do from day to day.
The carts will initially sell for $7,000, with the first deliveries to buyers planned for the last quarter of 2023.
This level of product initiative did not go unnoticed. The Golf Channel ran a segment on the INNO-F1 January 27, which Kim told me recently led to even more inquiries.
Build a better mousetrap, and all that.