Victoria golf club manufacturer proves small shop can reach global audience
July 6, 2010 at 2:06 a.m.
Terry Koehler works tucked away in the back of a modest Red River Street building. Yet, he has room to operate a business with global reach.
The 58-year-old owns Eidolon Golf, a Victoria-based golf club engineering and manufacturing company.
From his computer and a series of specialized work benches, he designs, manufactures and ships wedges to customers across the world.
WHO IS TERRY KOEHLER?
Koehler is a Cuero native who began his career in marketing, advertising and banking. He then gravitated to golf, a lifelong passion. Throughout his 30 years in the industry, Koehler worked for the Ben Hogan Company, built and sold a golf business and became a regular in golf magazines and on The Golf Channel. He founded Eidolon Golf in 2005 and remained in Victoria ever since.
WHAT IS EIDOLON GOLF?
Eidolon Golf is a custom wedge engineering and manufacturing business. Koehler owns a design patent for his custom golf club heads, which are manufactured in a foundry in China. He and his staff then build by hand each wedge specifically for the golfer who will use it. Customers can select from numerous specifications, including shaft length and finish, club head weight and angle, as well as grip girth. In five years, the company sold 15,000 wedges, which range in price from $129 to $139.
WHY MOVE TO VICTORIA?
Just as it is for technology, California is also a hub for the golf industry. Koehler, however, built his business in Victoria. "When you own a company, you can pick where you want to live - and I really like it here," Koehler said. "My family, my roots are here. Also, our primary business portal is our website, www.EidolonGolf.com. Because of that, we can do business around the world; location of the shop doesn't hinder sales. We have sold in 37 countries, and have distributors in Australia, the United Kingdom and South America. We actually have 20 times as many customers in Australia than we do in Texas."
IT'S IN THE DETAILS
Koehler and his staff use a 16-step process to build wedges - starting in the morning with orders that stream in from the Internet. The team then builds the club based on customer specifications. "Wedges historically sold as one size fits all," Koehler said. "But we do all custom orders, and customers love it." Koehler employs specialized stations fitted with equipment designed to shape the club to customer wants. Clubs ship to customers two days after the company receives the order.
WHAT DO CUSTOMERS SAY?
While most clubs are sold to customers outside Texas, some Victoria golfers prefer Eidolon's custom wedges. Whitley Patterson is an incoming University of Houston-Victoria junior and the school's first golf signee. She is an Eidolon intern and she uses the clubs. Joe Mitchell Jr. is an assistant golf pro for the Victoria Country Club. "I switched to a couple of Eidolon wedges," Mitchell said. "I really like the softness of the club's face. You can really feel the ball contact on the head. It has really good playability."
WHAT DOES THE FUTURE HOLD?
Koehler sells about 3,000 wedges a year, but he predicts 4,000 to 5,000 sales this year. "We're profitable and we're growing," he said. "We've incubated this company because it's risky to do golf club sales online." He now works to get his wedges in stores across Texas and the country, and to implement online software to help customers decide about club specifications. Because of in-store sales, online innovation and a new product line in coming months, Koehler expects his business to double or triple within two years, he said. "To keep up with demand, we're going to have to expand," he said. "We're looking at building options." By late summer, he figures to be in a larger facility with six to eight employees - up from the handful he has now.