Thomas Reiter founded golf distribution company Golftech in 1988 while studying at the Vienna University of Economics and Business in Austria. After 6 years, following some success distributing golf push carts, Thomas created BIG MAX, his own push cart brand, named after his son Max.
Fast forward 23 years and BIG MAX has been the #1 best-selling push cart brand in Europe for over 15 years and has just been named continental Europe’s #1 best-selling golf bag brand. BIG MAX USA has been operating from its base in WA for the past 3 years and continues to grow in stature in the U.S. market.
THE REITER STORY
I always had an interest in business. Through my years at university and then starting Golftech I enjoyed the process of putting deals together and collaborating with like minded people. The early days of Golftech were very successful. We grew quickly, but it was the moment when we were messing around with an old 2 wheel cart that really changed my business forever.
We turned the cart around and fixed a third wheel to the front. It was a simple change, but one that nobody had ever done before. We’d created the first 3 wheel folding push cart. That quickly turned into the Ti1000, which is still one of our highest ever selling models.
Pushing the boundaries has driven our business model ever since. After 23 years we attached that extra wheel, innovation, quality and excellence is still at the heart of everything we do as a business.
You wake up in the morning — what’s the driving passion?
I love doing what I do. I love introducing a product which I know will make someone’s life more enjoyable – the positive feedback I get from customers from all over the world keeps my passion alive.
You’re involved in efforts to grow your businesses in the US — what makes the American market different and challenging and what strategies have you created to be successful there?
We have an office in Washington State and the team there look after our US customers. It’s important for them to have a local contact and for our team to be able to react to their different needs. The main difference for us is the market itself. In Europe it’s normal to use a push cart whereas in the US that’s not the case.
Curious to know why you encourage junior coaches to encourage their students to use trolleys / pushcarts instead of carrying? Is that message purely self-serving to your business interests?
Obviously the more people who buy BIG MAX, the better, but what we are trying to get younger people to realize is that carrying your golf bag is bad for your body and your game. You don’t see Tour players carrying their bags around do you? By pushing a cart you have time to contemplate your next shot and you have more energy left over the closing holes. If you want a long, good golf career you need to take good care of your body.
You are also pushing ahead to get more Americans to walk and move away from power cart usage through your “Walk, Play, Golf in the US” program. Is such an effort feasible given the proliferation of power cart usage in the US?
Any change has to start somewhere! What we are seeing is a generational shift. Older players will probably stick with using buggies (power carts) because that’s what they know. Younger players want to enjoy their round, be competitive, socialize and think about their next shot on the approach.
The key golf organizations — USGA, R&A, PGA of America, LPGA, PGA Tour, European Tour — are all putting into motion plans to grow the game – especially among Millennials, women and minorities. If you were advising them what would you recommend be done that isn’t either being done or not being done as well as it should be?
In Germany and Austria, where I live, women make up nearly 50% of the golfing population. This has made a real difference to the sport and changes the make-up of a golf club. I would look at ways to make women more important and more welcome at club level.
What’s your assessment on alternative forms of golf that have entered the scene recently with the likes of TopGolf, FootGolf, SNAG, and others of this sort? Are they helpful in introducing people to long term involvement with the sport or are they merely short terms efforts of little meaningful consequence?
Golf is a game and I think we need to accept that people play it in different ways. I would be terrible at FootGolf, but a FootGolfer would never beat me over 18 holes. That doesn’t mean our enjoyment of the sport is more or less valuable.
You can change one thing in golf unilaterally – what would it be and why?
To make push carts compulsory? I think we should treat the amateur and Professional games as two different things. We should make the amateur game quicker and shorter – 9 holes should be the standard length of a round. Professional golf should stay the way it is and any club or ball restrictions that may be placed on Professionals should not apply to amateurs as well.
Best advice you ever received — what was it and who from? Also, if advising someone younger as they proceed to branch out in business and life what would you offer them to consider?
Whatever you do, do it with passion. If you like to do what you do, it will work.
You have one mulligan to do something again but differently — what would it be?
I would spend less time on projects which were not successful at the end of the day. There are a few which were very time consuming!
Complete the sentence. Thomas Reiter is ....
Dedicated, to what he believes in.
For more info go to: https://us.bigmaxgolf.com/