Sun Mountain continues its quest to evolve the company, products


Sun Mountain Sports was founded in 1981 by Rick Reimers, who became one of the golf industry’s leaders in invention and innovation. On March 7, he sold the company to Solace Capital Partners of Los Angeles. Sun Mountain’s corporate headquarters remain in Missoula, Montana, and corporate management remains in place.

Ed Kowachek, who was the president of the company, is now the CEO of Sun Mountain. Kowachek discussed various topics during a chat with Mike Purkey of The First Call.

(Interview has been edited for brevity and clarity.)

A preview of Sun Mountain’s 2023 cart bag line.

(Photo: Mountain of the Sun)

The first call: How long have you been with the company?
Ed Kowashek: It’s 37 years in February. When I came to work at Sun Mountain Sports, it had to be short term. One thing leads to another and here I am 37 years later.

TFC: How’s it going so far for another boss?
EK: It was really great. As I’ve told so many people, I wouldn’t have stayed at Sun Mountain Sports for 37 years without the previous owner. Rick Reimers was a great person to work with and for all these years. But at the same time, I’m excited, thrilled, and come to work with a big smile every day working with the new owner. They bring great energy, great experience to their business portfolio. They are certainly very proactive in getting involved again. We hadn’t spent a lot of money in the past and worked with a marketing company to tell the Sun Mountain story to really reach out to consumers and our customers to tell the story and get them up to speed. of our latest and greatest product launches. So from a marketing perspective, it’s fantastic.

They certainly worked with me to hire additional staff that we worked without for many years. We have a new National Sales Manager who has many years of sales experience and is working with our sales force to go out and contact our customers on a much more regular basis, spreading the word about our business. We have a new international sales manager who we never had here in the past to develop our international sales, especially in the Asian market with Japan as our focus. From there, we just beefed up all of our internal systems to be better in terms of accounting, IT, procurement, and everything else.

TFC: During your time at Sun Mountain, the company innovated on several fronts. Sun Mountain had the first ultralight stand bag, the first ultralight three-wheeled cart, and innovations in travel case design. Where does innovation go from here?
EK: Well, I would like to add to the innovation discussion. We had the first lightweight carry bag, definitely the first stand bag, the Eclipse, which was in the mid-1980s. The Speed ​​Cart was introduced in 1999. outside. We were also a pioneer in outdoor clothing in the 80s. We were one of the first to offer rainwear that was truly golf-friendly. Windbreakers, thermal wear…we had a piece we called the Golf Fleece which had a great silky lining that wasn’t constricting to your golf swing.

Where do things go from here? We have one person working with us, Seth Enes, who is our design director. He has been in the business for 30 years. He came to our house while attending the University of Montana and worked night shifts as our assembly area supervisor. He started doing sketches and logos. He graduated in commerce and graphic design. Seth is an avid golfer and outdoor enthusiast, and has a great sense of form and function, and great, clean design and colors. Seth is at the forefront of our design department and he’s always working on the next big improvement to a golf bag or stroller. In fact, we have two new carts coming out in the second half of 2023 and another one or two in 2024, along with some new outerwear. He’s just returned from trips to our suppliers in Asia and might have the next biggest hip pad for a bag or the next best fabric for outerwear. He is still thinking, still working.

Ed Kowashek, CEO of Sun Mountain

Ed Kowashek, CEO, Sun Mountain.

TFC: What will we see new from Sun Mountain in 2023?
EK: We are launching a new range of golf bags called “Sonnenalp”, which in German means “sun on the mountain”. It follows another line of bags we had a few years ago called Metro. The direction of golf bags is going a bit old school – instead of lightweight nylon, some people are going back to vinyl. We recently released Mid-Stripe in the Sonnenalp range. It has a great look, a clean design, plus a simple and clean design. It has great colors, it is very functional and for vinyl, very light. We are getting a terrific response from our customers. The Mid-Stripe will be followed by the Baron, which uses ballistic-style fabric with a clean and simple design. This seems to be the direction the market is heading when looking for something a little different. We have a new cart coming out in the second half of next year. We just released our 2023 outerwear line.

TFC: Over the past two years, have you had any supply issues?
EK: We are no different from any manufacturer who imports products from factories in Asia. Our supply problems did not come too much from the factory. They were mainly caused by maritime transport and the level of port congestion. It seems most of that is behind us now. We didn’t really have to close during the pandemic.

TFC: How has the golf boom of the past two years affected Sun Mountain?
EK: It was fantastic, honestly. We had very good growth in 2020 and 2021. We are maintaining that. Our sales will be up 4-5% from 2021. What I see happening in the market is what I call a golf market correction. There was such a shortage of golf products in 2020 and 21 that retailers and golf courses got a head start in the orders they placed for 2022. With the economy and consumer spending, there is a large supply of products in stores right now. It’s starting to get fixed. Our customers have made smart decisions with their orders and it’s good to use. We plan to end the year strong and we plan to be strong next year.

TFC: In the conditions, where do you see areas for growth?
EK: In our case, we see growth in innovation and new products. We are aiming for growth with our new National Sales Manager. Some people still don’t know that we produce travel blankets and many didn’t know until 2008 when we introduced the Club Glider. Then we released the Cube Travel Blanket and this category now accounts for around 7% of our sales where years ago it might have been 0.5%. We hope to develop our international sales and our online sales.


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