So you have an idea, Part two

Part One was intended to caution you. In other words, don’t quit your day job. However, let’s say you really do have an idea that seems like a winner. If you call me or any of us at Par Aide (and I hope you do) here is how our conversation will go.

Me:  So you have a new idea for golf? Why do you think it is a good idea?

You: I am not aware of anything like it in the industry. Everyone tells me it is great.

Me: Is it related to golf course maintenance or to be used on a golf course?

You: Yes.

Me: Can you tell me about it?

You: No, not without a non-disclosure.    (see Part One)

Me: Okay. Let’s dance around it a bit.

  1. Is it for maintenance or the golfer’s use?
  2. How many would a golf course purchase if it’s a good product?
  3. Do you have a patent pending? A prototype? Design drawings?
  4. Do you have an idea of what you think an end user would pay for it?
  5. Do you have any idea as to what it would cost to make?
  6. What are you looking to get out of this idea? Outright sale? Royalty? Or, some other arrangement?

At this point, I again appeal to their interest in simply trusting us not to steal their idea. Most times they do and I am proud to say that we have never and will never steal someone’s idea. In fairness, there might be someone out there who thought we did; only because we were not believed when we told them that this was an idea we had been contemplating or seen before.

So now, our inventor has decided to trust us and identifies his idea. As soon as/if it sounds familiar I will interrupt and talk about what I think it might be. If it’s not familiar and just might have some potential, the next conversation involves compensation. This goes where it goes based on objectives of inventor. (We truly wish that the inventor did have patent protection at this point because then the negotiation starts with what he/she wants.)

Rather than get into this in detail, please allow me to offer some thoughts on expectations.

We are in a small industry. With only 35,000 +/- customers in the world, you can easily predict the total potential sales if every customer bought the maximum, which of course is not going to happen. To determine what is available to you as a royalty or in projecting an outright purchase price, we need to consider likely market price (how much would a customer likely be willing to pay for this) and the cost to produce it. Remember, any royalty or amortization of a purchase is considered a cost. Do the numbers work? Can Par Aide achieve a reasonable margin? Is the product so good that we can live with less?

Finally, it all boils down to trust. Whether it is us or some other person/company, you have to trust them.

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So you have an idea, Part One

In writing this blog I run the risk of missing a great opportunity because I have scared someone off from contacting me. So let me be clear, there is no bad idea! Some are simply funny only because we have years of experience and have ourselves worked on a few clunkers. (Ok, maybe more than a few!)

My purpose here is to provide a primer over this and the next blog on what I will ask if you contact me with a new product idea. First, in spite of what your attorney insists upon, we will not sign a non-disclosure. Quite frankly, you are just going to have to trust me/us. Why? Because we have over 50 years of thinking about new product ideas. We cannot jeopardize our investment in those ideas by blindly signing a non-disclosure that essentially duplicates an idea we are or have toyed with. By the same token, if you tell us enough about your idea that we are quite confident that it is truly different, we will consider signing. Your best protection: a patent. This puts you in the driver’s seat. However, don’t you know it, there is a problem here as well. I cannot tell you how many folks have paid the money to file a patent on a product that has no chance of being successful. Again, it boils down to trust. You really need to trust someone in our industry to share your idea.

I have a simple philosophy. We are in a small industry. No matter what you come up with, I cannot make enough money on stealing your idea, as I will lose in cheating you. You know how fast word spreads in a small industry.

Nothing enrages me more than one of these inventor “services” that patent your idea for you. I have seen many people get taken by this and then find that there is no market for their idea or product. Do you think the “service “cares? Nope, they made their money. And, a good patent to the end can, and usually, runs up to $10,000. You better sell a lot of whatever you have.

You have an idea for a product you have never seen. Your friends all tell you it is a sure thing. So now what?

Like a cliffhanger, check out Part Two.

Company Outings

Hopefully, through these blogs you have come to realize that at Par Aide we truly value our staff, all of them.  As part of our appreciation for jobs well done, we like to have both impromptu BBQs and annual summer/winter parties.  I am looking for ideas.

In the past, the summer party is more of an event where the winter party is more of a holiday meal.  Over the years, we have:

  • – Cruised the Mississippi River
  • – Golfing
  • – Go cart racing
  • – BBQ at minor league baseball game
  • – Bowling
  • – Lunch at local restaurant
  • – Drove actual race cars on actual race track

And most recently, and one of best liked parties, we again had a pig roast at our shop.  It’s casual, food is good and we generally have a drawing for assorted prizes as well as frozen packages of pork for everyone.

As I mentioned, this is a self-serving blog.  Have you ever organized or been invited to a unique company outing that was memorable?  I would like to hear from you.

Paint ball really sounds like a good time but a couple of us kind of worry about real feelings boiling to surface!

Philanthropy

Those who know me, I think know that I am not very good at blowing my own horn, but I am excited to show you the result of one of the requests we filled.

As most of you should know Par Aide provides a number of scholarships for the legacy of Superintendents.  We have been doing this for many years as a tribute to Joe Garske, who himself helped educate a needy individual. We also have a budget for other philanthropic gifts which is broken into categories including community (assisting those in need), disaster relief, industry, and yes even a small amount is earmarked for political issues both those supporting issues important to our industry and those important to Par Aide.

While the scholarships are near and dear to me, we have also supported a few other interesting causes, such as sending golf equipment to our soldiers overseas and most recently we responded to a request for a simple gift of practice greens markers for children in Malawi, Africa.  There the group, Kusewera, built a miniature golf course using Par Aide cups, flagsticks, and flags at the Mtendere Village Orphanage.  Below are a few pictures, you can also see more at www.facebook.com/ParAideProducts.

This particular cause touched us all and while not really falling under any of our categories, could just not be ignored. However, with that said, we are deluged with requests for donations; ball washers for charity auctions and flags for same. We, unfortunately, have to turn down way more than we can possibly support.

Finally, all of us at Par Aide, who take our philanthropic responsibility seriously, want to thank all of you who make it possible through the support of our line and purchases of our products.  You are doing good and probably never knew it. Thank you!

Bought a Pig

I did.  Well I didn’t physically go and pick it out but through an auction with a friend bidding, I bought a pig. And, it’s an award winner to boot!

A few years ago, a good friend, Bob Frank, who is a rep for MTI (Toro dealer here in Twin Cities), told me that his daughter was raising a pig for show at the county fair.  Bob and his family live in Western Wisconsin and he is a remarkable guy.  Besides being a very successful salesperson, he also farms and raises animals.  His son Ellis and daughter Anne naturally got into raising animals. Anyway, Anne was raising a pig and named it Garske. Bob asked his young daughter why and she said I was the “richest” person she knew.  Smart girl, as she sucked me into bidding for Garske and so I did.  We followed with a Company cook out of half the pig and then distributed a package of frozen pork to each employee from the other half.

Everyone seemed to really enjoy the day and so this year, I decided to buy her pig for a repeat Par Aide summer event.  As it turned out, I bought the Reserve Grand Champion, which in pig raising talk means it was the first runner-up to the Grand Champion.  Congratulations Anne! She also won a couple other ribbons as did her brother.

This is the plaque that came with my Pig

Next time, I am going to the auction myself as it wasn’t my brightest decision to have her dad do the bidding for me!  Instead of eating it, I should put it up for breeding!

The Cost

I got thinking about the cost of stuff the other day and tried to put it in perspective. Guess I am trying to rationalize the pump hitting its cost maximum before my tank is even filled. Gasoline costs are clearly the most scrutinized as we most all drive and get to see on station signs and on the pump the continuously rising prices. Like many, the real scoop on the Kennedy assassination will likely come to light before we learn about the mystery of gas prices.

My recollection of the least I ever paid for a gallon of regular was 24.9 in about 1967. I think that I filled my Mustang for about $4.  Wow. Then in 1974, I was employed by a car leasing company and thus somewhat immune from the long gas lines but gas had surged to around 53 cents a gallon. It seemed the world was coming to an end.

The other day, as I filled my SUV, to about half when I hit the dollar limit, I paid the new reduced price of $3.79/gal. Frustrating? Yes very.

Here is the price for Par Aide in 1956

On our reception area wall is a framed copy of the oldest Par Aide price list we have, from 1956. On it we show only one Ball Washer, what was known as the Junior and it listed for $19.50. Today, the equivalent Par Aide Ball Washer, the Master, lists for $194.00, roughly ten times more. In the 7 years between 1967 to 1974, gas doubled. From 1956 till 1974, eighteen years later, our Master Ball Washer was $38.25, just short of a double.

Here’s the comparison:

Year                  Regular Gasoline              Junior/Master BallWasher

1956                                                                              19.50

1967                               .24                                          25.50

1973                               .39                                          35.25

1974                               .53   eff.   1/1                          38.25

1974                                       eff. 3/10                          41.25

2011                              3.77                                       194.00

Increase since 1967      15.71%                                6.43%     (44 years)

Increase since 1956                                                  9.94%     (55 years)

After doing this, I felt a little better. I am proud to say that I think we have done a very good job of controlling costs, through smarter management and new techniques and materials. And, in spite of how dependent our product line is on petroleum-based materials and energy.

Par Aide Putting Contest – Wichita, KS

Par Aide Putting Contest at Terradyne C.C.

Dan Brown, our Sales & Marketing Manager, is guest blogging about a recent event he organized in Wichita, KS.

On Monday, April 18th I flew down to Wichita, KS to set up and run a fun-filled putting contest at the recent Kansas Golf Course
Superintendents Association and Heart of America Golf Course Superintendents Association Joint Meeting at Terradyne CC.

After each group finished putting out on hole #9 and made their way to the 10th tee they stopped by the practice green to participate in a “closest to the hole” putting contest for a chance to win some great prizes donated by Par Aide.  While the putt was not for the faint of heart, or one you would want to be facing out on the course (90’ uphill then downhill with a left to right break) many players rose to the challenge and showed their remarkable flat stick ability!!

Matt Miller was the overall winner of the event for the Superintendents, snuggling in a beautiful putt that ended just 8.5” from the cup.  Other winners, included:  Jason Reiswig (10”), Matt Delventhal (15”), Austin Murphy (21”) and Neal Flickinger (29”).  On the affiliate side, Gary Breshears won for his putt that came to rest 9” from the cup.

It was a very fun event and these two Kansas chapters are truly a great group of Superintendents, Assistants and Affiliates.  I had been exploring some different opportunities for Par Aide to show our support of local Golf Course Superintendent chapters, and was a perfect way to get out and meet members and interact in a fun, social way.  I want to thank Ryan Bourne and his staff at Terradyne for all their help in getting this event organized and also congratulate them for the work they put into providing a
tremendous golf course and overall experience for all the participants at the event.

Par Aide will be sponsoring a number of these putting contests this season throughout the country…if you see us signed up to be at one of your local chapter events, we hope you attend and show us your putting expertise!!

Also…check out the traveling trophy for the KGCSA!  Can you identify all the parts that went into this?  Obviously, I immediately noticed the old Par Aide Senior Ball Washer for the head (Circa 1960) and the spike brush for hair.  Pretty creative!!

Check out the KGCSA Traveling Trophy!