Hole In One

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Imagine owning a company with one high-margin product that you sell to a huge market of affluent hobbyists, charging twice as much as your competitors. Imagine further that customers will gladly pay the premium because the product really is superior. To top it off, imagine that your customers' hobby happens to be yours as well.

If you can imagine all that, you can also imagine how Leonard Weissman feels these days, because you've just pictured the company he owns.

A few years ago, Weissman was just another stockbroker who would rather have been playing golf. But while his job was terrible, his golf bag was even worse. The clubs kept getting tangled; he could never find his scorecard; and there was no place for him to stash his raincoat. Since Weissman lives in the Seattle area, this particular defect meant he got wet quite a lot.

Eventually, Weissman became so exasperated that he sat down with his wife, Karen, and created what they considered the ideal golf bag, complete with pockets galore and dividers to keep the clubs separate. They then gave it to the assistant golf pro at their country club, a man named David L. Bogie. He loved it. More important, Bogie sold it before he finished playing his first round. "I told the gentleman that it would cost at least double the price of the average golf bag, but he didn't care," says Bogie.

Thus was born Leonardo Manufacturing Inc., of Bellevue, Wash.

The company is a duffer's dream -- or anybody else's. In its first full year of operation, it will gross about $525,000, with pretax margins of 13%. It is currently selling about 1,000 bags a month, and that number should climb after the Leonardo bag appears in The Sharper Image catalog later this month.

Of course, Leonardo still has a long way to go before it captures a significant share of the $100-million golf bag market, but it has already done wonders for its principals. Bogie is now president of marketing, no doubt a better occupation than golf pro for someone with his name. As for Weissman, he has quit his boring job as a stockbroker to concentrate full-time on his passion. Says he, "I never dreamed this could happen."

Last updated: Mar 1, 1988

PAUL B. BROWN | Columnist

Best-selling author (and Inc. magazine columnist) Paul B. Brown's latest book, Own Your Future, has just been published. Brown's blog appears every Tuesday, Thursday, and Sunday.

The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.



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