2002: McClure leaves Orlimar; funding sought

Recent news that Mark McClure had left Orlimar Golf after only one year on the job prompted two primary questions among industry watchers.

Why did the former Cobra Golf executive leave so soon? What does his departure indicate about Orlimar’s fortunes – and future?

McClure joined the equipment maker in spring 2001 as senior executive of strategic planning, focusing on marketing, sales and product direction. In essence, he ran the business with Orlimar president and CEO Bill Kirkendall. Conventional wisdom said that McClure would be around much longer.

“The primary reason I am leaving is that I have more or less fulfilled my contract,” McClure said. “I had a one-year deal, and at the end of that, I felt I had done everything I set out to do, which was develop a new business model for Orlimar.

“It’s no secret that the next step is for the company to get the capital to exercise that model. So Orlimar is taking it to different groups in an effort to raise money. What I basically said was, until the company is recapitalized, I have some things I would like to do on my own.

“So I am taking a hiatus, and once things are funded, I’ll come back.”

Additional finances are needed apparently not only to ensure McClure’s return, but to improve Orlimar’s fiscal health.

Some industry observers say Orlimar is strapped for cash and having trouble paying its bills.

One golf company executive familiar with Orlimar’s operations said it lacks sufficient funds to pay for “distribution, advertising or to buy components.

“The company owes so much,” said the executive, adding that some vendors won’t “ship to it any more, at least not without getting paid up front.”

There is even speculation that a change of ownership likely will occur if Orlimar secures a cash infusion.

Kirkendall would not address the financial concerns directly, saying only that “Orlimar is a private company,” and “We are in a tough industry, no doubt about it.”

For potential investors, McClure said he drafted a business model with a complete set of concepts designed to work for a small equipment maker in today’s golf market.

“One thing we tried to do was focus the product line around a core competency, which in Orlimar’s case is a metalwoods presence,” he said. “We developed the hip Ti driver line and retooled fairway woods.”

McClure also was involved in the agreement through which Orlimar will manufacture and distribute the Dave Pelz wedges – which Kirkendall describes as “another leg of the stool.”

“Next, it was a matter of selling,” McClure said. “From a small company

perspective, managing cash flow from retail can be a very difficult situation, and we felt we needed to combine a good, sound retail strategy with some of the direct marketing strategies the company had used with success two and three years ago. That means we will do some infomercials. But we also will partner with retailers in a variety of ways to market directly to consumers in their back yards in hopes of driving awareness and demand.”

Some moves already have been made in that direction, among them a revision of the hip Ti infomercial that ran last year so that it includes the new 420cc driver. “It will definitely be ready by the spring of 2003, and maybe even in time

for the Christmas holidays,” Kirkendall said. Orlimar also is considering changes to its sales force.

“Looking at things operationally, promotionally and financially, we realized we need to change to better reflect the size of the company and to allow it to grow and become a strong niche player,” McClure said. “We have had a good response to the business plan, but it takes some time for people to kick the tires and understand what the new Orlimar will look and feel like.”








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