Women In Golf: Lynx Golf CFO and co-owner, Stephanie Zinser
Iconic British equipment brand Lynx Golf have just taken their business to a whole new level.
Co-owned by Stephanie Zinser and Steve Elford since 2011, the company began the year by announcing that they are now a global golf brand, after purchasing the Global Lynx Trademark Portfolio from the American store Dick’s Sporting Goods.
Lady Golfer met Lynx CFO Stephanie Zinser to ask her how they have managed to take the business from strength to strength, and what it’s like being a female golf brand owner in a heavily male-dominated environment.
Why did you want to acquire the Lynx brand?
It was just something that we couldn’t let pass us by. We knew the brand’s importance in history, and we also sensed the affinity that so many people had to it.
Have you had free rein over the direction of the business?
As owners, we have always had full control of the products we design and the way in which we market and present this iconic brand. We have always aimed to stay true to its original form.
We wanted to place Lynx back in the market, but make it more relevant to the way that people live and play golf in this century.
How was the ‘new Lynx’ range received and what were the main challenges you faced?
We have always been fondly received, but obviously the golf market is well developed and sophisticated, and also highly competitive.
We knew that we couldn’t just hark back to the glory days of Lynx. We had to be innovative and become leaders in technology again.
People will quite rightly take their time deciding if we are worth a look. That just means we have to carry on consistently doing things well.
You can’t speed up time, but our European markets are now realising that after six years we are in this for the long term.
What makes the Lynx brand unique?
From the outset, we wanted to combine the best that modern technology has brought to our lives, with the best old-fashioned business values.
We believe that many large corporations have lost their human touch, and operate in a frustratingly nameless, faceless world where nobody takes responsibility and customer service is a dirty word.
We provide the best modern products, but combine it with superb customer service and speed. That means having contented staff who feel supported, valued as individuals, and part of a strong and cohesive team.
I’m a big fan of businessman Warren Buffett and his philosophies are simple but strong.
Buy when others are selling, sell when others are buying. Run your business as well and as ethically as you can, and the rewards will follow. Never chase profit, because if you‘re doing it right, profit will happen as a natural consequence. Work hard and respect others, and remember that we are all important.
Have you always planned on expanding back into the USA market?
If we told people that we were seeking a global presence when we returned six years ago, we wouldn’t have been taken seriously. But yes, this has always been our intention.
Somehow, we knew it would happen if we did the right things at the right time and in the right way. We are beyond excited by how it’s turned out so far.
Which other parts of the world are you looking to trade in?
Among other countries, we now have the ability to trade in Asia, India, South Africa, New Zealand and Australia.
We want to be able to bring Lynx back to them all. But given the size of the market in America and the enthusiasm that Americans have for golf, and for Lynx, we are particularly excited about penetrating this territory.
Will this mean taking on many new members of staff?
We have always kept quite a lean team because we want our staff to feel the rewards of investing their time and energy in the brand. Therefore we only employ when there is a real need.
We didn’t want to start with 100 staff who might fear that there wouldn’t be a job for them if things didn’t work out. We take the employment of our team very seriously, after all it’s people’s families and livelihoods and we won’t play fast and loose with that.
We will see how things go and take on staff according to what transpires. We are very lucky in that a lot of people are constantly asking if they can work with us.
You’ve always invested heavily in the ladies game, is that something which you plan to continue?
Absolutely. I think we are seeing more and more on social media that ladies don’t want to be undervalued, and for us the ladies game has always been important.
Historically, it is also important to Lynx as the Tigress G model held a huge 34% of the market at one point with this one model alone. It’s important to me, as a female owner of a brand that sits in what has long been a heavily male-dominated environment, to give due attention to lady golfers.
They want everything the men do: great-performing clubs, great value, and great service. This attention will continue under our stewardship.
Brands like Callaway, TaylorMade and Titleist have a huge presence on tour. How hard is it to get the consumer to look past those brands when they walk into a pro shop?
I think it can be done. But obviously tour presence must have an effect, otherwise it wouldn’t happen.
The big question for us is how much of an impact it has, and at our stage of growth I would rather focus on producing terrific equipment and offering fantastic customer service.
If, and when, we have millions in the bank, we might consider sponsoring more tour players, but to be honest having all the top names in our stable isn’t our priority. We don’t run on ego.
What other plans do Lynx have for the future?
Our ambitions are high: we want to bring Lynx back into the top five golf brands, if not make it the top one. I’ve always felt you can never aim too high. You might not get there, but why limit your ambition?
We want to continue to sell great products at a great price with great customer service, and we would like to be able to offer this to as many golfers as we possibly can.
Quite simple, really!
Find out more about Lynx by visiting www.lynxgolf.co.uk