Standard-Speaker from Hazleton, Pennsylvania on December 14, 1989 · Page 36
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Standard-Speaker from Hazleton, Pennsylvania · Page 36

Hazleton, Pennsylvania
Issue Date:
Thursday, December 14, 1989
Page 36
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! B Standard Speaker USINESS THURSDAY, DECEMBER 14, 1989 Page 36 Maker of Ping golf clubs learns life's big lessons By JAMES E. WALTERS PHOENIX (AP) - Karsten Solheim millionaire, engineer and golf club designer can trace his business philosophy to the years during the Depression when he ran a shoe repair shop because he couldn't afford to stay in college. When one of his two competitors on a Seattle street corner reduced the price of heels to 15 cents, Solheim followed suit. "The first customer that came in asked me, 'Is that as good as it used to be?' Of course, I had to say yes. When the next two customers asked the same question, I decided most people were more interested in quality than price. I took my sign down and resumed charging 35 cents for heels." That observation was reinforced when he noticed that people would generally choose from the most expensive pile of leather on the counter. "Again I found most people were more interested in quality than in price. That's stuck with me all my life," said Solheim, 77. Indeed, golfers are willing to pay about one-third more for his Ping custom-fitted putters and irons - "ping" was the sound the first putters made. They were used by more than 200 pros in 1989 and netted $80 million in sales. Some of Solheim's other lessons came from his father, a shoemaker who immigrated with his family from Norway. From him, Solheim learned hard work and "a skill I wouldn't have had otherwise how to use my hands. "So when I came to making my clubs it was second nature. " It also was the way he made ends meet before the approach of World War n enabled him to return to the University of Washington. By 1945, he was a flight research engineer; by 1951, a project engineer on the Atlas missile; and by 1953 he began a long association with General Electric as an engineer. Cross Holiday Special J. I IICTDnilC rUDHKIC l-VSVJ JJJ Wl IVIIIL. BALL PEN List: $13.00 Our Everyday Low Price: $9. 75 SPECIAL! EACH MONDAY, DEC. 11 THRU FRIDAY. DEC 15th ONLY! PERSONALIZED WRITING INSTRUMENTS. . SINCE 1846 S&50 CROSS D.ftM S- SARAH CAHILL fcS JEWELERS & 141 South Main Street, Wilkes-Barre Plenty ol tree storeside parking CHRISTMAS HOURS: MONDAY THRU SATURDAY 10:00 AM TILL 8:45 PM VISA, MASTERCARD. AMERICAN EXPRESS. DISCOVER It was around then he decided he could afford to take up golf. He was terrible. At first, he blamed himself, but golf would never be the same after he concluded that the clubs were the problem and set out to design better ones. The earliest Ping putters were good for a laugh because the looked like a "hot dog on the end of a stick." The design concept came from tennis rackets, which have the weight on the rim while the strings give the power. A putter based on that theory would let a golfer miss a little and still hit straight, Solheim concluded. "I made them ugly on purpose so they'd be accepted for their worth, not appearance." He improved his game until he carried a five handicap something most golfers would like. It's now 18, but an eye problem keeps him off the links. "When he was starting, he used to sit around the practice green with a bunch of putters, hoping some of the pros would try them," said Bob Goalby, the 1968 Masters champion. "One day he had holes in his shoes. And somebody asked me, 'Who's that guy over there with those weird putters and holes in his shoes? What's he doing here? Did you every see anything worse than that?' "But he never became discouraged or angry. He'd listen to what guys would say after trying his putters, take their criticism to heart, go back and change them, come back the next day or next tournament and say, 'What do you think of this one now?' And guys started saying, 'Hey, Karsten, let me try that one.' But he sure took some heat at first." From building clubs in his garage, Solheim's privately held Karsten Manufacturing Co. has grown to employ 1,700 people in 22 buildings covering several blocks. He received an "E" award during the Reagan administration for increasing trade with foreign companies tiny flags of 77 countries where Ping clubs are sold are FREE ENGRAVING By Our Cross Representative Friday, Dec. 15th 11a.m. till 4 p.m. FREE ENGRAVING On Any Cross Product Purchase Made This Week! SINCE 1887 102 displayed in the headquarters lobby. In the early days Solheim would test the wind drag of a club's swing by holding various models out the window of his car while traveling at high speed. Now he has a sophisticated machine to measure drag, and other equipment is so state-of-the-art that plant tours are limited and security tight. "I think Karsten is a genius as far as making golf clubs and equipment," said Quinton Gray, who has used Pings since 1967. "The quality control is the best I've ever seen. But what impressed me more than anything was you could go anywhere in the facility and you could sit down on the floor and have your lunch, it was that clean. And all the employees seemed happy. Everyone was very, very friendly and accommodating," Gray said. After more than a million sets of Ping Eye2 irons were sold, the U.S. Golf Association has banned them in the 13 USGA championships starting Jan. 1 and in practically all play beginning in 1996. The Professional Golfers Association is also questioning the clubs, but is banning all similar clubs, not just Pings. The organizations say the shape of the grooves - square or 'U'-shaped instead of a 'V - and their spacing give stronger golfers an unfair advantage in backspin giving better control to stop a ball from rolling, for example. r VJ . , n :' 'i?'. 1 VI i 1 I t GRANT MONEY TO FINANCE TRAINING PROGRAM Luzerne County Community College, along with the Luzerne County Office of Assistance, is coordinating plans for a computerized numerical control (CNC) training program for 15 welfare recipients through the college's Advanced Technology Center. LCCC recently received a $50,000 grant from the Ben Franklin Partnership in order to finance the training program. Shown in the CNC training lab are, from left, Charles Vaccaro, Hazleton, coordinator; Wes Franklin, Moscow, executive director of the center; John Meade, Jenkins Township, computer numerical control coordinator at LCCC: and Libby Yeager, Wilkes-Barre, coordinator of job training and private sector initiatives at LCCC. You can keep worrying about your injury case.;. lllF v.. ytf yoa can'caD us Don't let your accidental injuries cause additional anxiety and emotional stress. You don't have to go through it alone. We have helped many area accident victims receive fair compensation for injuries, pain and suffering, and we can help you. Call today - you'll feel a lot better. G The Peoples Law Firm Ctntury Houm, W$t Pltttton, Pm. 655-5555 Toll-Fre 1-800-442-2000 Depot's impact hits $363 million Tobyhanna Army Depot's regional economic impact reached $363.3 million for the fiscal year ending Sept. 30, depot officials announced. The total includes: $93.2 million in employee salaries; $19.8 million for contractual services; $8.2 million for the purchase of supplies and equipment; $3.4 million for employee travel; $2.3 million for transportation; $2.2 million for utilities, and $1.2 million for commissary goods. Depot officials said an estimated 10,063 jobs in the region are dependent upon the depot's existence. People holding those jobs earn- Two from King's 'elite- WILKES-BARRE - Two alumni of King's College have joined "The Corporate Elite," according to the Dec. 4 issue of BusinessWeek magazine. William McGowan, a 1952 King's alumnus, and Charles Parente, who graduated in 1962, are listed among the chief executive officers of the 1,000 most valuable publicly-held companies in the nation. McGowan, an Ashley native, is chairman of the board and chief executive officer of MCI Communications Corp, a company be founded in 1968 that now has a market value of $9.6 billion. Recently, McGowan donated $3 million to the college, which has UGI Corp. to sell C02 plant VALLEY FORGE - UGI Corp. has reported that its AmeriGas subsidiary has agreed in principle to sell its carbon dioxide production plant and related assets in Bayport, Texas, to MG Industries, also of Valley Forge, for an undisclosed amount of cash. MG Industries is a producer and distributor of industrial gases and welding supplies. ' James A. Sutton, chairman and chief executive officer of UGI said AmeriGas expects to close the transaction before year end. The sale would leave an air separation plant in California as the remaining industrial gases asset of AmeriGas. In a major restructuring program, UGI has Tobyhanna Army Depot ' ed an estimated $233 million in wages and salaries during the 12-month period - bringing the depot's total economic impact up to $363.3 million. SA total of 4,391 people were employed at the depot by the fiscal year's close. This figure included 416 civilians employed by tenant units; 94 non-appropriated fund workers; four Department of the Army interns; two employees assigned to long-term training; 12 Defense Reutilization and Marketing Office employees and 38 military personnel. The depot workforce included named its new school of business in his honor. Parente, who was born in Wyoming but now lives in Harveys Lake, is the president and chief excecutive officer of C-TEC Corp., a diversified telecommunications business in Wilkes-Barre. Parente serves as chairman of the King's board of directors. "The college is proud to have such successful alumni and to see them recognized for their accomplishments," said the Rev. James Lackemier, president of King's. "What is equally impressive is their strong sense of commitment to the community and their ongoing support, to King's. " been divesting its industrial gases businesses and redeploying the proceeds to increase the size of AmeriGas' wholly owned propane operations. The divestiture has yielded net cash proceeds of more than $100 million since June, of which UGI has reinvested over $50 milllion in propane acquisitions. CHRISTMAS DECORATIONS KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) -More than 80 percent of American families are expected to decorate a Christmas tree this year. It was not always so. In early America. Christmas was not widely celebrated because of Puritan influence. 1,670 Lackawnna County residents and 1,405 from Luzerne; 613, Monroe; 397, Wayne; 95, Carbon; 38, Wyoming; 27, Pike; 26, Northampton; 24, Schuylkill; 16, Susquehanna, and 80 from other counties. The average depot employee is 42.2 years of age and has accumulated 12.7 years of federal service. Women make up 16.5 percent of the depot workforce, while 2,637 veterans and 112 members of minority groups are employed. A total of 345 employees have earned college degrees and 49 possess advanced degrees. Oval towels find niche overseas The question came to Diana Kildiszew as she was drying her hand on a towel: Do all the millions of towels in the world HAVE to be rectangular or square? Not necessarily. Three years later, the former kindergarten teacher is selling tens of thousands of oval-shaped towels in Asia and gaining in the American market as well. The 30-year-old woman expects to make a profit on her trademark Ovalettes towels for the first time this year, and will be able to repay her mother's $200,000 loan. - Though she claims full credit for the idea behind the oval, all-cotton terry and velour towels, she is still stunned at the boost the U.S. Department of Commerce has given her business. "It's amazing how the doors have opened for us," she said. The idea was born in 1986. Kildiszew, who has a degree in finance from the University of Southern California, persuaded her mother to finance the enterprise. They named the company MDS, incorporating the initials of the first names of her mother, Millie Kildiszew, Diana and her sister-partner, Susan Nash. With a few samples, Kildiszew and Nash went to a Los Angeles trade show with high hopes. "It didn't catch on at all," she said in an interview. "We wanted just to hide in the bathroom." The sisters tried again the next year at an international bed, bath and linen convention in New York City and got some attention. When they returned in 1988, there were some reorders and people began to recognize the towel and its trademark name. More important, a Department of Commerce agent saw the towels and believed '.'our product would sell in the Japanese market," Kildiszew said. The women were quickly included in a trade mission to Singapore, Hong Kong and Japan. With a U.S. commercial attache to guide them, they sold to a large department store, put in bids to five-star hotels and met an importer who now buys towels for a number of department stores in Japan. By this year's New York show, MDS had arrived. "We were not hiding in the bathroom in 1989," Kildiszew said. Thousands of Ovalettes are now made in San Diego County. In December, still under the wing of the Commerce Department, the women will go to Frankfurt, West Germany, for the world's biggest textile convention. MDS also is talking with the state Export Finance Office about loans to guarantee even larger sales to Japan. Kildiszew said the Commerce Department's help was like having training wheels on a bicycle. But she also is proud of her determination and that of ' her family to succeed.

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