What is the status of Club Car?
A: The parent, Ingersoll-Rand, is investing significant amounts of money in Club Car because they see the future. We’ve had good growth. We’ve had a good return and improved profitablilty.
It is a solid business even though it doesn’t fit.
IR is now primarily a HVAC company. Our CEO gets asked by anaylists, ‘Why do you have a golf car company?’
He’ll say, ‘If I had to go look to buy something, I’d have a hard time finding something as good as Club Car, whether it be strategic or nonstrategic.’
What are the investments from Ingersoll-Rand?
A: I think right now the mood is very bullish on Club Car. They’re keeping it.
Look at how much money IR has invested in the business, just looking at the back of the napkin, I’d say $20 million.
We air conditioned the plant here a year and a half (ago) and that was a $2.5 million investment.
We’re going through a facilities upgrade. We put about $1.5 million into this building.
We put out some new product lines that they invested in tooling.
You’ve been here two years. Can you see Club Car is rooted in this community?
A: You get an appreciation when you work in a business like this, the contributions of the founders – the guys that put the blood, sweat and tears to build these businesses. I think what is neat about Club Car is those folks still live right here and I can go see them. (Retired chairman) George (Inman) will walk around. He’s like a rock star out there.
The customers are always the first thing, but the families (of Club Car workers) in this community and providing them a stable base of employment to take care of their families is an obligation that we as leaders never forget. That is an important part of what we do here.
How is the job scene?
A: We felt our temp-to- permanent ratio had moved too much on the temp side. So we hired about 35 permanent folks in the plant and reduced our reliance on temporary labor, which was well-received. As we move to a lean transformation, you need a permanent workforce that really understands lean principles and buys into that. We’ve been hiring and been doing it quietly.
What else has been a highlight?
A: There have been a couple areas that have been nice for us, particularly our parts business. We have our parts distribution center out by the airport. We employ between 50 and 75 people out there to manage our worldwide parts business. It has been growing significantly. That is a counter-cyclical business. When things get tough, people repair rather than replace.