Long before custom golf club fitting became mainstream a small company out of Idaho was preaching the benefits. Right from their beginning in the early 1980's Henry-Griffitts' (an amalgamation of names of founders and PGA Pros Randy Henry and Jim Griffitts) philosophy was that ALL golf clubs needed to be fitted. With golf swings, abilities, and physical stature all very individual things, "off the rack" was just not in their vocabulary. Lie boards and interchangeable clubheads for fitting are among the standards they were responsible for.
Turning to 2010, more than a quarter century has passed but the passion of HG remains. The entire golf industry realized that maybe fitting WAS the way to help golfers get more out of their equipment and HG is still adhering to that policy – just as they have from the day they sold their first golf club.
We recently spoke with current Henry-Griffitts President Randall Henry, the son of Randy Henry, about the state of HG and what they have in store for 2010 and beyond.
Even in a time of turmoil in the golf equipment business they feel their approach has carried them through nicely. Henry says that because of that their market position does not vary much from what it has in the past.
"We still always try to think of ourselves as innovators and forward looking," he explained. 'We are still in-line with the certified teacher/fitters and very much believe that are key in the golf business. They have a distinct knowledge and advantage over somebody going online to buy clubs or somewhere else where that knowledge and experience is not available. That is our market; we still only do custom fit golf clubs."
Henry says having a strong and stable relationships with the fitters and pros who sell their equipment has been a real advantage as the markets have ebbed and flowed. "That is really the reason why we are still around, because we have found good people and they rely on us just as much as we rely on them. We feel our teachers and fitters are the best in the world and they feel the same about us. That is the relationship we have."
From an equipment perspective he says that symbiotic relationship has advantages for the consumer. "They (the fitters) guarantee to give the best fit that they can and we guarantee that what they get is exactly what they order every time."
The company backs that commitment with a 100 day fit guarantee. "We really encourage our customers to take a look at the clubs when they come in so they get exactly what they ordered," he explained. "That is how we differ; we make sure the people get exactly what they order, every time. Our quality control is second to none," he boasts.
Henrys says their customers are not numbers, they have been "names" from the very beginning and they choose to preserve that level of service. Often the first time customer becomes a long-time customer and they want to ensure the interaction with the company is as good as it can be right off the hop.
As they move forward Henry says they are taking more steps to keep the communication with the fitters and the customers even more active. It is all part of their focus on customer service. "We like to think we'll go the extra mile – that the golfer not only gets a set of golf clubs but an evaluation system and an experience that shows them they are now in a relationship with Henry-Griffitts."
Although proud of their custom fitting heritage Randall says they are not bitter in any way that most major manufacturers have adopted custom fitting and stormed into their niche. "It's just nice for the people like my dad and everyone at HG to see it being embraced. From the start it was about the golfer getting to have a better golf experience so we think it is great to see."
On that note Randall also mentions that when he started out his father went to many major manufacturers to talk custom fitting and he was often dismissed and told that basically, "he was crazy," and they could never offer that.
In some ways they still don't, according to HG's President. 'They may offer club-fitting but what we do is the furthest extreme of it. The same level of service that a tour player receives is what we feel the customers gets with us."
He continues, "Many of them have good fitting systems; it's just nice to see people realizing that equipment does affect motion. That is always what we have said and the big boys are kind of jumping on board with that now."
Although they have plenty of laurels they could rest on HG is firmly focused on where they are heading next while still utilizing the traits that brought them to where they are today.
"We probably have more plans for 2010 than we have had since the early days," Randall claims. "With the economy a lot of people are hitting the brakes but we plan to hit the gas."
At the PGA Merchandise Show next week they introduce a number of products across the board – a big occasion for them. "We don't just come out with golf clubs because it is a new year; we come out with new products when we think it is better. We don't like to change every 6 months just for the sake of it; we do it when we feel there is something for the golfer to gain."
Plans for 2010 also involve growing their dealer network and getting more consumer recognition for what they offer and what their history has been. "We are looking to grow in areas where we haven't been," says Henry. He points out a focus on the American Mid-West (they have new production facilities in Ohio) and in Canadian markets as well.
Henry also lays out that the changes also involve a new look, including a fresh logo. "There will be a lot of focus on cosmetics. We will have a new look for HG, a little more modern."
He concludes with a promise, "There is a lot of new blood here and our staff are buzzing. There will be a lot of new looks on everything for HG this year and I think everyone will like it."