Tony Letendre is a PGA lead instructor for the First Tee of Orange County, California, and secretary of the Southern California PGA Section.
Attending the PGA Merchandise show has multiple purposes. Obviously as a buyer you get the opportunity to see what’s new in the industry. But as the secretary of your Section, the PGA Show plays another important role: networking. When you walk the floor as a Section Officer, you are not only there representing your club or organization and looking for innovative products, you are also taking time to visit with your sponsors. Relationships are crucial and when companies are spending hundreds, potentially thousands of dollars, in support of your programs, strengthening those relationships is very important. Working with these companies, building rapport and making sure it’s a two-way street is key. The biggest benefit to any facility in my opinion is just knowing who the Section has relationships with and having the opportunity to have a rolodex of people to reach out to when you need it most.
Beyond potential discounts or opportunities to get a certain product onto your shop’s shelves right when interest is high, having those connections can also help to make your events highly successful, sometimes just in the nick of time, when something goes wrong. For example one time, the morning of one of our biggest tournaments all year, a member of the staff accidentally knocked over one of the crystal trophies, shattering it to pieces. We immediately called the company’s sales representative and they were happy to help, immediately ordering a replacement trophy (custom logo and all) and expedited it to us. We didn’t have it for the trophy presentation, of course, but promised it by the end of the week and put it in the member’s locker as soon as it arrived. Upon looking back, we realized these trophies were ordered through one of the Section sponsors, that deep relationship contributing to why we think they were so willing to help in a pinch. So work on building these relationships at the PGA Merchandise Show. They can not only bring added value in terms of products and offerings but may also save the day, too.