Chad Kicker recalled stepping outside during a conference in Sweden last year, when inspiration came calling curbside.
“I came out of the hotel one night, and I saw this car roll up,” recalled Kicker, Ogio’s Global Product Developer for Golf. “It was matte black, with all black rims and wheels. Not sure what it was, but it was definitely cool.”
That’s when it hit Kicker: It was more than cool — it would be Ogio’s next big thing.
Kicker offered a sneak peek at the company’s black beauty, which the company was ready to unveil at the PGA Merchandise Show in Orlando in January. “It’s called the Gotham — and it’s matte black, with really edgy styling,” Kicker gushed. “It’s very unique, very different, and I think it’s going to be a home run for us.”
Kicker certainly knows a homerun when he sees one, as he oversees the global golf operations for a company simply skyrocketing right now. Ogio just opened the second of five planned golf retail stores in China (with a near total store sellout in Shanghai), partnered with Red Bull for a new Signature Series, and kept the company’s books well in the black — matte black.
“It’s been another phenomenal year for us as a company,” Kicker said. “We were up over 20 percent, at a time when not everybody is, and that was up over the year before. The momentum is going.”
Already one of the biggest names in bags, Ogio’s expanded its reach into the golf market with a growing apparel line. This year the PGA Tour’s Aarron Baddeley, Ben Kohles, Chris Stroud and Chicago-area native Kevin Streelman will wear Ogio apparel — from head to toe.
For the first time ever, Ogio steps into the shoe business, offering four fantastic entries into the footwear segment, each with Ogio’s trademark, innovation-meets-inspiration look and feel.
“Our big thing this year is the Gotham bag and the new shoe line,” Kicker said. “We have three different models, Sport, Race and City, and spikeless. They have the Synkfit (memory foam) system inside, which molds around your foot.
“It’s a great opportunity to move into shoes. It’s a huge investment, but I think it’s going to pay off for us.”
Of course, all this isn’t to say Kicker & Co. haven’t paid attention to what’s paid the bills — bags. Quite the contrary.
“We went through and retooled everything in our line, all the functionality,” he explained. “It took us a year to do, but it was definitely worth it. I had my designers go through all the bags in the line. I said, ‘Looking at it as a golfer, what would you change?’ Little stuff that makes a big difference.”
From making the slots bigger in the top of the popular Ozone bag, to moving the putter well to the side of the their cartbag line, Ogio’s team was turned loose on the details. The result are the company’s great bags got even greater for the golfer.
“Ogio, we’re definitely a fashion brand, but also really functional,” Kicker said. “We’re always looking at ‘Does this work for me, as a golfer?’ It’s gotta have a purpose for me as a golfer.
“We’re a fashion brand, but functional. We’re one of the only companies that does prints on our bags. There’s a huge expense to that. But we take it a step further and like to set ourselves apart by doing that. Ogio as a company has always pushed the envelope in look, design, style.”
Kicker said the key to innovating is to find inspiration around every corner — and to seek out the hot styles before they cool.
“It takes a good 8-9 months to find out what’s trending in the marketplace,” he said. “We find it, and then we Ogio-ize it. Our owner, Mike Pratt, is the guy that drives that whole process.”
Pratt is already a legend in the business, and if there were a product development hall of fame, he’d have bust there for sure. (You can probably thank Mr. Pratt every time you use your cup holder in your car.)
“He’ll go to the store and come back with a bunch of cooking ware items (as inspiration),” Kicker said. “He pushes us to look at all facets of things we see in everyday life and continually bring that inspiration to what we’re doing at Ogio.”
Kicker shouldn’t worry. The Next Big Thing is probably right around the corner.
For more information about Ogio, visit www.ogio.com.