Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Old Name Will Get New Start; Club Line Designed by Famed Gary V. Adams Is Now Based in Town

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Old Name Will Get New Start; Club Line Designed by Famed Gary V. Adams Is Now Based in Town

Article excerpt

Byline: GARRY SMITS

Mel Rodelli was hanging around the Hyde Park Golf Club in February of 2003 when Ned Williams, a former club professional and friend, urged him to try a new driver.

"He said it gave him 25 extra yards off the tee," said Rodelli, the owner of Certified Air, one of the area's largest installers of commercial air conditioners. "Anyone will give that a try."

Rodelli not only agreed with Williams -- after banging out a few drives that went longer than his usual -- but loved the club so much that he wondered aloud if he shouldn't buy some stock in the company.

Three months later, Rodelli bought the entire company, lock, stock and pitching wedge, and moved its administrative offices to Jacksonville, near the Westside office of Certified Air.

But this wasn't just another equipment brand. This one had a pedigree to it.

It was McHenry Metals, launched in 1997 by the late Gary V. Adams, generally acknowledged within the equipment industry as the pioneer of metal drivers when he founded Taylor Made Golf in 1979.

The story of how Adams' third equipment company found its way into the hands of a Jacksonville businessman started in a basement in McHenry, Ill., Adams' hometown. It continued to California, across the country to Maryland, then south to the First Coast.

Rodelli and an energetic management and marketing team isn't expecting McHenry Metals to push its way into a crowded marketed currently hogged by the likes of Titleist, Nike, Ping and, of course, Adams' first creation, Taylor Made.

But they believe that a combination of "niche" marketing, demo days, green-grass pro shop sales and world of mouth can make McHenry a viable player on the second tier of the equipment industry, with companies such as KZG, Kasco, Tour Edge and Sonartec.

"Our goal is top-tier technology with second-tier pricing," said Marty Broach, McHenry's marketing director. "We're not going after Titleist and Taylor Made. But we think the products are good enough that we can do quite well with the marketing plan we have."

Rodelli is shooting for about $1.5 million in sales this year. Edwin Watts stores on the Southside and Jacksonville Beach (plus four in Orlando, one in Tallahassee and one in Fort Lauderdale) are stocking the clubs, as are 12 area pro shops, three in Gainesville the PGA Superstore in Atlanta.

In addition, McHenry has marketing agreements with Epic Golf and the Michelob Ultra Tour. Billy Kratzert (Champions Tour) and Kenny Knox (Nationwide Tour) are using McHenry products in competition.

The golf equipment industry is mercurial at best. But at least McHenry has an owner with a clear plan -- as opposed to several years in limbo after Adams' death in 2000.

Adams was in his early 30s and working for a golf-range equipment company when he noticed that new two-piece balata balls were going farther hit by long irons than persimmons drivers. …

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