GIS 2013

Another show come and gone. My 40th I believe as my first was in 1971 and I have only missed two since. I have watched the “show” go through a fairly stagnant stage to one of full speed ahead to a time of forlorn faces and pessimism to this year’s cautious optimism.

Though this year’s show was very nicely organized and looked good, I have to believe that the number of exhibitors and floor space rented has gone down substantially since the heady days. Unfortunately, it was our perception that the attendee numbers were down as well this year. We were very busy on Wednesday morning, relatively steady in the afternoon, slightly less on Thursday am and really dead on Thursday afternoon. The last hours of any and all shows are pretty slow so not unexpected. However, last year it seemed we were a good bit busier throughout.

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Wednesday AM before the distributor preview.

Sometimes we question the value of the show and the substantial cost, especially for the number of end-user customers (Superintendents) that “touch” our booth and/or personnel. However, we also consider the national show to be our international distributor meeting as we see a majority of those folks who bring our products to the marketplace, in the US and throughout the world.

I am not so sure most have any idea what goes into putting up a booth, so thought I would share our efforts. Three days ahead of the show (this year Sunday) three of our people will fly in to begin the process of taking the product and displays out of 8 crates and 2 pallets. Monday am two more will fly in as the set up continues and the rest of us on Tuesday to help with final arrangement of products and preparation for our visitors. We bring Tom and Gary who run our manufacturing operation for their production and materials expertise, Dawn as she is in communication with so many of our dealers on a regular basis, Dan and Scott who head up our sales and marketing and know many if not all of our dealers personally, Mike who primarily handles international affairs, and finally, me – I hand out the mints.

Looking down the main aisle at about 7am on Wednesday.

Looking down the main aisle at about 7am on Wednesday.

The trade show hours average 10 hours a day and none of us are out of the booth for personal time except for a short lunch (usually a hot dog) and bathroom visits. It makes for a long time on one’s feet and our backs will further attest to it.

At the end of the second day, tear down begins with what we call the Velcro symphony, so named from the cacophony of pop up booths being stripped of their panels. It takes us (all 7 of us) roughly 5 hours from start of tear down to shipping labels on crates. This year we got our crates in relatively short order and thus not having to wait for them got us to a beer and pizza about an hour earlier than normal.

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Once back home the work begins. Following up on inquiries, product information, requests, as well as delving into product ideas presented and improvements suggested. It’s truly exhausting but there is a sense of excitement to it all as well. Till next year in Orlando.

Is it time to replace your Cup Setter?

It’s one of the most used products in your greens tools arsenal.  Durable, easy to use, and it does the job day in and day out.  It’s the Par Aide Cup Setter.  But when was the last time you replaced it or at least checked it for proper depth?  It might look like it’s still in good working condition, and seems to set the cup properly, but structurally things may have changed over the years of use.  And these changes may affect your cups not being set properly to the USGA regulation of a minimum of 1” below the surface of the green.  Additionally, modifications have been made to the new Par Aide Cup Setters that improve the playing conditions of your cups and ensure a proper cup set.

All the years of use and all the cups that have been meticulously set into place has likely taken its toll on your old Par Aide Cup Setter.  Think about all the cups that are set with a cup setter that is just 10+ years old.  A 10-year-old cup setter might have changed 60,000+ cups in a year round golf climate.  Is your cup setter older than 10 years?  20 years?  120,000 cups!  The way in which a cup setter is used and the conditions that are present (sand and soil) are ripe for wear.  The sand and soil act like sandpaper and eat away at the 1” tolerance that is cast into our cup setters.  The effect is that the cup setter actually forms a beveled edge where the cup is set vs a flat edge of a new cup setter right out of the box.  This beveled edge reduces the depth that a cup is set, up to 1/16” or more.  The result is a cup that is now set less than 1” below the surface of the green.

Not a big deal, right?  Not until Mr. Smith has a putt “bounce” out of the cup in your club championship because it was not set to the proper depth.  Yes, it can happen.  Just ask Joe Daley.  It happened to him in the 2000 Q School finals!  See the putt here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6qQs6yokUVk.  That missed putt cost Joe his PGA Tour card as he ended up the tournament 1 stroke back from getting his ticket punched to the big show. Furthermore, it was later confirmed that the cup was in fact set less than 1” below the surface of green at the time.  Whether it was pulled up during play or set incorrectly at the start of the day, we will never know.

So what can you do to help eliminate this unfortunate fluke from happening at your facility?  First, check your old cup setter.  If it is a Par Aide setter and it is red…it is at least 18+ years old (we have been painting them white since 1994) and likely has the worn edges described above.  If the edges where the cup get set look beveled…it’s probably time for a new cup setter.

If you determine your cup setter needs to be replaced, what you will be getting from Par Aide is an improved tool.  In 2010, we redesigned our cup setter to set the cup an additional 1/8” (total of 1-1/8”) below the greens surface.  This means that even with an excessive amount of wear, or even a careless set, the cup is likely to be set to the required minimum of 1” below the surface of the green.

So take a minute to check out your cup setter the next time you think about it…Mr. Smith thanks you in advance!

This is posted by guest blogger, Dan Brown, Sales & Marketing Manger at Par Aide.

China

I get asked a lot how Par Aide does in China and whether our products been copied as yet. Simple answer is that we struggle in China and yes, a few of our products have been copied. The general follow-up question is whether we make our products in China or sometimes it’s put as given that we must produce in China. To this question, the answer is an emphatic NO. At least not yet and hopefully never.

We have looked into sourcing some items in China but as yet, have not found a good enough reason. Quality is our life line and one we will not jeopardize under the Par Aide name.

Now my rant. I am writing this blog after once again being fully aggravated and frustrated by “made in China” products. Plastic items that fold up when not supposed to under normal use. Even screws are made with who knows what but I am tired of having the heads twist off with the smallest amount of torque.

The other day, I went to a big box to get a circular saw. I told the clerk, once found, that I wanted to buy a circular saw made in the USA. He smiled and we proceeded to check the box of every brand. Every single one was made in China. In hindsight, maybe I should have gone to my local hardware store. I am guessing that they have a bit more discriminating attitude towards what they sell. I also assume that the big boxes are only interested in the lowest possible cost, and the Chinese are more than willing to build to that level. So sad, that we as Americans have become so cost driven. Yes I know economic times are bad but value is found over the long stretch, not in the initial purchase of anything.

I remember as a teenager laughingly referring to anything that failed, to likely be “made in Japan”. One day the Chinese will produce better quality just as the Japanese eventually did. As world pressure on their environmental record and manipulation of their currency grows, along with the demand for higher wages, their costs will rise. Then I suppose the manufacturers there will move to the next cheaper source. Sad.

Show Me Yours

When I was growing up it seemed only Harley riders and servicemen (mainly those in the Navy) sported tattoos. Usually they were the names of their loved one and generally within a heart. Of course things were a bit simpler then. Now it seems tattoos are common and the subject matter as varied as the imagination.

However, James Brewer’s, from the Rose City Golf Course in Portland, OR, gets my vote as the world’s best! He says he loves his job and as a way to tell the world, he has a tattoo of a Par Aide hole cutter on his leg. Really!

I am not sure this can be beat but if you have one and want to share it, please do. Of course, if it includes a depiction of a Par Aide product, it will definitely be given extra credit. A Par Aide logo would be over the top!!

James, thank you for sharing.  We all much enjoyed it.

Superintendent Visit

In a unique role reversal, Jeff Johnson, Minikahda Country Club, a premier course in Minneapolis, brought his key staff to Par Aide for a tour and visit. Huh? Generally, it’s us as suppliers who have the interest in visiting Superintendents, our primary customer. 

Well it seems that Jeff has found value in annually doing a tour of a local industry related facility. His group has been to Turfco and the new Twins ballpark. These tours not only enhance his people’s knowledge but provides for a well deserved field trip away from the course.

After Jeff’s visit, it occurred to us all that it was a great idea and one that needed to be communicated to other Superintendents who have industry related facilities within reasonable distance. If you go to Jeff’s blog, Minikahda Grounds, you can learn more about what he saw.

Accessory Maintenance – Ball Washers

Continuing on some easy Golf Course Accessory Maintenance tips.

Strip and repaint the ball washers.  Par Aide has a refurbishment program or simply disassemble them and take in to local sandblaster or even auto body shop.  Then repaint.  Though not encouraged :), this can be done over and over and over as needed.  Think of them as a classic car, right down to waxing or clear coating for unlimited life.

If you have had success with product refurbishment or general product maintenance and want to share it please post your information here or pass a long to info@paraide.com and we will post the pictures here.

Accessory Maintenance – Tee Markers

Make sure your tee markers are in good repair, including color. Eric Eiselstein from Jefferson CC in Blacklick, OH, sent me some photos of a racking system he made to store and recondition his tee balls each winter. He puts the racks in his cart and delivers the markers to each hole in the spring.

Another tip if you have Par Aide’s Satellite Tee Markers: If faded or foggy looking, chuck one upside down by spike in a drill press. Use a fine grit sandpaper to lightly sand surface as the ball turns. Apply a clear coat and your marker will look brand new.

If you have tips similar to the one that Eric passed along, please feel free to share at info@paraide.com and we can post them here.