Chuck Presto started golfing when he was 10, but didn’t grow up aspiring to a career in the field, being, as he describes it, “pretty average.” And yet, four decades later, he’s hobnobbing with the best of the tour as senior vice president of global sports marketing with TaylorMade Golf Company, the world’s largest manufacturer of golf products.
“My job is to attract golfers of influence to our brand,” says Presto, who supervises a team of 35 at TaylorMade, which consists of the TaylorMade, Adams, adidas, and Ashworth brands. “We recruit the players, negotiate and sign their contracts, service their equipment needs through the life of the contract, and work closely with TaylorMade’s marketing and public relations teams to capitalize on those relationships.”
Player relationships, says Presto, are key to the company’s success. Certainly, product counts: TaylorMade was founded in the spring of 1979 when Gary Adams, a golf-equipment salesman, took out a $24,000 loan on his home, rented a 6,000 square-foot building, and began manufacturing an innovative 12-degree driver cast of stainless steel. The strange-looking new metalwood—which had a perimeter weighting that offered greater forgiveness on mishits and a lower center of gravity that made it easier to launch the ball in the air—was an immediate success. But while Adams, the son of a golf professional, was committed to manufacturing innovative and authentic golf equipment, he also emphasized branding. “One of the cornerstones of our success is the utilization of professional tours—specifically the PGA Tour—where the product we create is endorsed and used by the best players in the world,” says Presto, who’s signed such notable golfers as Paula Creamer, Jason Day, Sergio Garcia, Natalie Gulbis, Dustin Johnson, Martin Kaymer, and Justin Rose. “We firmly believe regular golfers—guys like me, with a handicap of 10—pay close attention to what the best players in the world are using and aspire to use that same equipment.”
To create those relationships, Presto attends roughly 25 tournaments a year, but it’s a harder life than it sounds, even for a golf aficionado. “I work more than I golf,” says Presto, whose focus is twofold: meet with agents to discuss opportunities and deals, and build relationships with players themselves by chatting on the range, walking practice rounds, and sharing meals. “I also pay attention to what our competitors are doing—who they’re talking to, how they’re behaving, what products they have out for testing,” he adds.
Still, it’s like living a dream, and Presto’s kept the job, working for TaylorMade in various capacities for the past 27 years. “It’s the only company I’ve ever worked for,” says Presto, who studied economics at the University of Wisconsin before joining the company in 1985. “Golf wasn’t even on my radar screen, but my college roommate, Sean Toulon, had finished school ahead of me and gone to work as a salesperson at TaylorMade. I admired the lifestyle, so he helped me get an interview. I’m still here today and so is Sean.”
Presto credits his longevity with the company to much more than a love of golf. “I’ve talked to many people who tell me we have a special culture, and while I don’t have anything to compare it to, it is indeed magical,” says Presto, who gives all the credit to TaylorMade president Mark King. “When I was an inside salesperson answering the 800 number, he was the San Diego sales rep, and spent a lot of time coaching me. From that point forward, he’s always been my boss. When I became a sales rep, he became a
regional manager; when I became a regional manager, he became the national sales manager; when I became the national sales manager, he became the vice president of sales; when I took over tour operations, he became president. My relationship with Mark King and the culture he’s created is what’s kept me here for 27 years.”
In all those years, Presto has seen a lot, but what strikes him the most is the changes in speed with which business is conducted. “It’s shocking how dramatically it’s increased,” Presto says. “When I was a salesperson on the road in the late 1980s, there were no cell phones or faxes; I’d write my orders up once or twice a week and mail them to the office for processing. There was no expectation that any order would reach a customer’s door in less than two weeks. Today we often deliver product within 24 hours of taking the order.”