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Interview with My Grandfather
I chose to interview my grandfather, Carl, because he has had an immense impact on my life; he was an entrepreneur and therefore has much to say about his days of running his very own business.
Bo: What did you want to be when you were a child?
Carl: Hmm, I don’t think there was anything. I was really just focused on surviving each day. I started my first job when I was very young. I figured out how to weld and drive, and would head over to people’s houses or farms to weld something together for pay.
B: Where did your first idea for Golfsmith come from?
C: I was never very much of a golfer, but one day, a friend of mine took me out to play a few holes. My friend introduced me to one of his buddies from the course, and he mentioned how difficult it was to find a place to repair and purchase golfing equipment.
B: What made you choose the golf industry?
C: I always knew I wanted to be my own boss; whether I owned a laundromat, restaurant or RV park.. As I said before, I was talking with a man who golfed often, and he mentioned the need for golf club repair and manufacturing companies.
B: What made Golfsmith unique?
C: Hard work. Everyone we hired was an extremely hard worker. For my first job as an adult, I had to walk fifteen minutes, ride a subway an hour, and walk another five minutes just to get to work.
B: How did you advertise your company?
C: Nowadays, every company advertises on the internet. So that’s where we eventually went, but I started elsewhere. In our early days, you could call the phone company in every major city and request a copy of the phone book. We did that then mailed a flier offering our product to every golf related company in the yellow pages.
B: How many employees did you have when you first started?
C: Well, when we first got started, we were working out of a small house in Plainfield, New Jersey — trying to fill orders and such. Almost immediately, we had four people join the company. Including the family, that brought us to eight.
B: What was your goal in starting Golfsmith?
C: My wife and I, we really wanted to work for ourselves. We just couldn’t enjoy a job which required us to mindlessly follow someone’s commands.
B: Do you believe you were successful?
C: Yes, I believe we were successful. We started our own business. We had thousands of employees at thirty different stores across the United States. Then, we sold the company for a very large sum of money, so I would say, “Yes, we were successful financially, but we were not successful in leaving a company for our daughters to run.”
B: What’s your favorite book and why?
C: I can’t remember the name of it at the moment. It’s a western book. Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurtry. Man, I read that book, and loved it so much that I went back to buy ten more copies for friends, but I couldn’t find any more. When I asked, an employee told me, “Well, now that Larry McMurtry has a Pulitzer Prize, we moved all the copies into the section labeled ‘Literature.’” It’s a fantastic story. At one point while I was reading it, I noticed, “I’ve read parts of Lonesome Dove before!” So the author, he took little pieces from all of his stories, and he put them all together in this fictional book.
B: What is the best piece of advice you have ever received?
C: The best piece of advice I’ve ever rec- Well it wasn’t actually true, but it helped me out a lot. One thing my dad always said was: “Make a better mousetrap, and the world will beat a path to your door.” Now, I built a better mousetrap, and no one cared. I had to work and advertise Golfsmith, then the world beat a path to my door.