Diversifying its offering, low debt and recruiting new brands is proving to be crucial to the survival of one of Australia’s last golf club manufacturers.
Dynacast Golf has been assembling golf clubs south of Adelaide since the 1980s but has had to reinvent itself in recent years as the sun sets on the sport’s boom times.
One of Australia’s biggest entry-level golf club brands in the 1980s and ’90s, Dynacast produced about 250,000 clubs a year and employed 15 full-time manufacturing staff to assemble them under the guidance of Managing Director Eric Rowe.
While Eric is still heavily involved with the business, his son Daniel now plays a big role in the day-to-day running of the Dynacast Group as its General Manager.
Daniel said the introduction of home brands at major chain stores such as Drummond Golf and House of Golf, coupled with the increased availability of cheap imports and a decline in the growth of golf in Australia had forced Dynacast to gradually shift its focus.
“That cheap entry level set side of the market that used to boom has dried right up, so diversification’s had to come along,” Daniel said.
“We’ve picked up more brands now so that gives us more scope. People like dealing with less suppliers so if you are more of a one-stop-shop it gives them less reason to shop at other places."
“We were fortunate enough and the business was set up well enough that we’ve been able to shoulder a lot of blows, deal with the industry changes and be in a strong enough financial position to weather these storms.
Dynacast, a small golf shop called Yankalilla Golf Factory when Eric took over in 1983, still produces its own brands from imported components but its manufacturing has reduced to about 50,000 clubs a year and includes junior clubs and mini-golf supplies.
“This year we’re seeing very good growth over last year in an industry that’s generally not seeing growth so we’re quite optimistic looking forward – there’s definitely going to be road blocks there but I think there’s also good opportunities and we’re going into it with enthusiasm.”
Now there is just one assembler and one staff member assigned to cleaning and dispatch at its Lonsdale plant, where it has been located since 2006.
Daniel said the strengths of assembling in Australia were maintaining the ability to customise products more easily so they can cater to specific demands and reduced freight costs while the big downside was cost.
“The ability to carry bigger stock holdings has been big for us as well. Our biggest advantage is that we basically own everything we’ve got including our stock and premises.
“Over the years we might bring in a little more pre-assembled but it is a strength being able to assemble your own products as you need it. The customization side of the market there’s still definitely a call for that. We might whittle it down a little bit but I don’t ever think we’ll get to the point where we’re not manufacturing.”
According to the 2015 National Golf Club Participation Report, golf membership in Australia peaked in 1998 at about 500,000 golfers. Since then it has steadily declined by 21 per cent to 397,063 in 2015. More than 50 per cent of golf club members are aged over 55. Just 19 per cent of club members are aged under 35.