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Barney Adams How the Industry Can Weather the Coming Storm

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At the top of my Tell-It-Like-It-Is List is Barney Adams, founder and chief executive of Adams Golf. We talked recently about the golf industrys new future.
 
My question: After September 11, what is this industrys place in the world?
 
The greatest fear is fear of the unknown, right? he said. In light of the events, I get uncomfortable talking about business. The answer is, who cares? This is something I hoped and prayed I would never see in my lifetime. I hope my grandchildren never have to see this again. I hope that out of this we develop a much stronger country. We became a little bit blas.
 
If that were all, perhaps we would conclude golf doesnt have a place. But discomfort aside, Adams isnt willing to lay down so easily.
 
Adams Golf LogoBut youre irresponsible if you dont think about your business, Adams said. You have to make sure youre in a strong fiscal position, that you can provide goods and services. You have to make sure your products are good so people can enjoy them, because thats what people need right now.
 
I feel like telling the people who did these evil things, Ill deal with you, but I think Ill play nine holes first. I think golf is very, very important at a time like this. I wont pretend its a major part of life here, but its part of the fabric of our society. Hopefully it wont change. And hopefully [our industry] will be in a position to implement that however we can.
 
But many observers see tough times ahead for leisure industries as consumer confidence declines. Callaway Golfs stock, an industry bellwether, has dropped more than 20 percent of its value since Sept. 10. Adams stock has been trading at less than a dollar since June. And Adams had to go through the pain of laying off 20 employees recently.
 
Adams introduced its new Ultimate GT irons Sept. 19 into an admittedly lackluster golf economy. But those product development trains take a long time to get up to speed, and once steaming, theyre hard to derail. The clubs combine the best attributes of the GT tour models, with their blade look, and the GT performance model, which helps get the ball airborne, Adams said.
 
But Barney Adams definition of success is progress over time. And if he thinks he has missed the mark, he doesnt wait for critics to tell him.
 
You could say its negative. We bit the bullet and did some serious cost cutting, he said, referring to the layoffs. But thats the sign of a mature company. We have to do that to show that were going to be around for a long time. If we sit around Pollyanna-ish and say, Things will get better, they wont.
 
Finding a silver lining ' the hope of longevity in the midst of a difficult time ' is a special skill of Adams, even though he insists on facing up to the truth of the situation. Hell be battening down the hatches like the rest of the industry, but in hope of clear weather behind the storm.
 
You have to walk the fence. You have to be ready to support when called upon. But you owe it to your employees and vendors to manage your affairs so that down the road youre not blaming September 11 for your problems.