FOR many in the golf industry, 2020 was a year that we’d all like to forget. The global COVID-19 pandemic, combined with lockdowns and various restrictions, saw many global businesses hit major stumbling blocks, or even go out of business altogether.
Across a few segments of the golf industry, however, the pandemic has led to an unexpected boom. Player numbers are rising, rounds are increasing and new gear is in high demand. And for those businesses that identified potential growth opportunities in the market – and successfully capitalised upon them—their efforts and investments are beginning to reap the rewards.
Australian Golf Equipment (AGE) is one such business. Thanks to a combination of shrewd business sense, optimism and hard work, this specialist golf buggy business is one of the “Good News” stories to emerge from 2020-2021.
Though “Australian Golf Equipment” may not be a household name to the average golfer, the chances are high that one or more of the various brands/businesses under its “umbrella” are instantly recognisable:
AJM Autodrive: Australia’s largest golf buggy sales and service centre. AJM is an authorised service provider and warranty repair centre for all the major golf buggy brands, including MGI, Motocaddy, PowaKaddy, ClicGear, E.L.K Golf, HillBilly and many more. They are also a lithium battery specialist centre, offering lithium battery replacements for all brands of electric golf buggy, while also providing international technical assistance and warranty management.
The Buggy Brokers: a specialist retail golf buggy store offering all the major brands of golf buggies, in both manual and electric designs.
Stinger Golf Products: a designer, manufacturer and distributor of the high-quality Stinger range of golf bags and golf buggies in Australia.
HillBilly Australia, the Australian distributor of the new 2021 HillBilly electric golf buggy, a light and reliable buggy brand with a long and reputable history.
Through these brands, AGE offers a complete end-to-end service — Design, Manufacture, Distribution, Retail, Repair and Post-Sales Support– and thus represents a unique “one-stop golf buggy shop” for all golfers’ golf buggy needs.
Led by industry veteran Tony Micallef (Managing Director and Head of Product Design and Development), together with the brother and sister team of Chris Hyne (Head of Marketing) and Charlotte Hyne (Head of Operations), AGE caters to golfers of all levels, regardless of their playing level or budget. AGE provides accurate advice on which buggy is a perfect match for a golfer’s specific needs, and also offers full technical support.
A LONG ROAD TO SUCCESS
Like all strong businesses, the success of AGE didn’t come overnight. In fact, it was decades in the making, and an adventurous road for AGE’s Managing Director Tony Micallef.
With a long history in the automotive technical industry—specially trained in product development, manufacturing, quality control and quality assurance—Micallef began in the golf industry in 2009 by establishing a specialist golf buggy design, development, and service provider business with a strong focus on customer service. In 2012 he was invited to head a new start-up Australian company (E.L.K. Golf) to design and develop a unique electric golf buggy which would change the standard of electric golf buggies in Australia (including chassis design and powerplant). These standards are still being used today with the latest models of the world’s leading brands. At that time Micallef also developed the world’s first fully-automated/online warranty claim procedures for the golf equipment industry, which is still used in varying forms throughout the world today.
In 2014, Micallef re-launched the world’s number one golf buggy range, PowaKaddy back into Australia. Then, in 2016 he was invited to join another Australian start-up company, Concourse Golf, to help grow it from a home-based business. Micallef helped improve the company’s products by working closely with the manufacturers to greatly improve an existing golf buggy, design and develop a range of golf bags and played a pivotal role in developing and then improving award-winning products.
THE COVID OPPORTUNITY
In May 2020, when COVID-19 was starting to make its presence felt in Australia, Micallef decided that it was time to concentrate his focus on his own range of products, by expanding his existing golf buggy business, AJM Autodrive.
“Covid 19 was having a dramatic impact on business in Australia, and in particular Victoria,” Micallef explains. “To combat the change in consumer confidence and purchasing, I made a strategic decision to expand our offering rather than retreat, like other industry competitors were doing at the time.
“It was a perfect time to promote golf to the younger demographic, and so I sought golf industry colleagues, Charlotte and Chris Hyne, to add a youthful perspective towards developing the company’s range of products and services,” he says.
This led to the birth of the Stinger range of golf bags and buggies, with the Hyne siblings joining the AGE team.
“It was a perfect structure, with both of them having extensive experience in the industry, both as players and in club operations,” Micallef adds.
In December last year, the Stinger range of golf bags and buggies was launched. Named after the renowned golf shot — penetrating and accurate by coming in low and hard to avoid the wind — Stinger Golf was born with a similar concept in mind: extremely stylish and high-quality products, direct to the consumer, without the luxurious price tag.
Stinger golf products represent excellent value for money as they come as a total package with all the accessories included at no extra cost. Sold in the traditional method through golf stores, Stinger is also available directly online as a result of the restrictions placed on retail stores due to COVID-19.
The Stinger launch was followed shortly thereafter by AGE’s announcement of the launch of HillBilly Australia. HillBilly is one of the oldest and most trusted brands of electric golf buggy, with its origins in the UK some 30 years ago. Australian golfers who are tired of heavy and unreliable products will happily find that this one ticks all the boxes.
Today, AGE has positioned itself well to not only survive in these uncertain times, but to thrive. With a full range of products and services in their stable, and a keen eye on current (and future) trends, AGE is considered to be an example of how to lead by example, and move forward while others are retreating.
THE ROAD AHEAD
Though Micallef won’t reveal their plans for future endeavours, it’s safe to say that, moving forward, Australian Golf Equipment will continue to expand its range of golf buggy products and services, and will be dedicated to bring Australian golfers the perfect match of solutions when it comes to golf buggies and golf bags.
“Our goal is to continue to provide exceptional customer service, high-quality products and full technical/warranty support to all of our clients,” Micallef says.
For more information:
AJM Autodrive/HillBilly/Buggy Brokers