Monday, December 28, 2009

Interview with Travis Johnson - Part 2

(Photo of John Mallinger the sole property of Getty Images)

Part 2 of an interview with Travis Johnson from Travis Mathew...

6) What brands do you love? (Doesn't have to be clothing.) What do you look for in a brand?

Man, you’ve got great questions!!! To be honest, I consider myself the epitome of a consumer. I’m always following pop culture, trends, underground movements, etc., whether it’s on CNN, consumer reports, books, or magazines…I live for this stuff!! I’d say my deepest passions fall under the genres of sports, music, fashion and art. Food, drinks, health and wine are pretty enjoyable too. These things along with my family, friends and faith are what I live for. Some of my favorites in sports would have to be the Dodgers and “Lake Show,” as far as teams go.

As for sporting events, it’s hard to beat watching the Tour de France or attending the Opening Day at the Del Mar Racetrack. I love watching live musical performances by groups like Muse or Depeche Mode, but I also enjoy finding some of the newer lesser known indie bands like Ladyhawke or Phoenix. Wolfmother and Cold War Kids are a couple other pretty insane alternative bands to check out as well. As for fashion, I’m a big fan of an American surf brand called RVCA, as well as Hugo Boss or Armani suiting. I guess you can say that I’m not closed-minded to experiencing anything new. I give almost anything a fair chance and if I think it was well thought out and put together, I’m sold!

 7) Tommy Armour and John Mallinger - can you share a story about each that fans might enjoy?

Haha, I can’t tell you how cool it is that we have these guys representing our brand on the big Tour. I met "Malli" when I was about 12 years old playing junior golf. Just like any childhood story, we had an already established, tight-knit group of So Cal junior golfers that Malli wasn’t a part of at the time. Nothing against him, but Malli grew up in some small town outside of San Diego that none of us had ever heard about and we were all LA/Orange County kids. I’ll never forget the first tournament that I met Malli at. It was the Maxfli Junior Championship and I got paired with this skinny-legged, soft-spoken kid that I dwarfed over in size. I didn’t have a worry in the world about beating this kid that I knew nothing about, but after 6 holes, then 12 and eventually though 18, this kid using a beat-up, old 8802 Wilson blade dropped putts from everywhere. Malli ended up winning the event by at least 4 or 5 strokes leaving us all clearly behind in the dust. He instantly earned my respect as a golfer and as a character. 

Over the next few years I got to know Malli a lot more, eventually becoming decent friends during college while he was at Long Beach State and I was playing at UCLA, but even better friends after college when I moved back home to Long Beach where Malli was still residing. We practiced at the same course, Virginia Country Club, worked with the same coach, Jamie Mulligan, and traveled the country competing in many mini-tour events together. Overall though, the best thing that I can share about Malli is that he is an incredible guy who hasn’t changed a bit since the day I met him. At first glance, you’d think he’s still some soft-spoken guy from a small town in San Diego, but the moment you watch him play a full round of golf, you’ll realize that he’s more so like a “quiet assassin” with his laser-like accuracy and freakish short game. And though he’s one of the most competitive guys that I know on the course, he’s also one of the most free-spirited, fun-loving guys off the course. Malli cares about nothing more in life than his family, his friends, giving back to the youth in his community and his San Diego Chargers. I haven’t met too many people more well-grounded than Malli is with all that he has achieved to this point in his young career and I’m proud to be one of his friends.

As for Tommy, I don’t even know where to begin! TA in my mind, is one of the game’s last remaining true golfers. When I say that I mean that he comes from the old school, low-ball hitting, cigarette smoking, just get it in the hole kind of players. He doesn’t need a strength coach, the guy is as strong as a bull. He doesn’t need a mental coach because he knows exactly what he needs to do to play well. In fact, he doesn’t even need an apparel sponsor if he didn’t want it, the guy looks cool in anything he wears. The first time that I met Tommy was in Hawaii at the ‘05 Sony Open. I was at the event trying to Monday qualify along with Malli. After our practice round on Saturday, we happened to run into TA and his posse inside the Waialae Men’s Lounge that hovers over the Pacific. Tommy saw us two slumming around so he invited us to his table. After having a few pops with Tommy he invited us to his party later that night at the W hotel. At that point Malli and I had only heard the folkloric tales of Tommy and all that goes on at his parties, so we were beyond stoked to be invited to hang with this living legend. I won’t reveal all of the details about the party, but I will say the moment we showed up, all of the stories that I ever heard about how cool Tommy Armour was were instantly confirmed the moment we walked through the doors.

8) Where do you see TM in 5 years?

Well, as highly as I think of our brand, I also understand the realities of our current economy and how difficult it will be over the next few years to be prosperous in this industry. What we do have going for us though right now is that we’re flourishing as a company -- Our only problem right now is having enough product in stock to keep filling the shelves at our accounts. We are also unbelievably fortunate to have built the most amazing team internally, that will allow us to react quickly to the turbulence of this market so that we can stay above water during any peak or valley during these next few years. At that point, if we have weathered this storm that we are currently in, I really do believe that we will have an great opportunity to be one of the most influential brands that has ever entered the golf arena. We’ve studied in great measures the Munsingwears and Ashworths, and the Nikes and Adidases and I believe that we will have the opportunity to be one of the next names in that progression to help grow the game to more people, but even more so to improve the look and lifestyles of the individuals that make up this great game.

9) How does the whole social media/blogs like this and internet based advertising structure play into the hands of an up and coming apparel brand?

I learned very early on during my golfing career that any kind of marketing is good marketing and this day and age there seems to be an abundant amount of resources to help get your name out there if you want. The tricky part though is deciphering which of these marketing channels will maximize your exposure and visibility. I still haven’t quite figured that one out, but we’ve got some great young minds working on that as we speak. In the meantime, I will say that this source of advertising is probably one of the most undervalued marketing tools of our industry. The way I view social media is that it is one of the most efficient ways that I can connect with our customers to find out what they think about our products and/or services. It also helps me to better understand consumer needs. If consumer habits and trends follow the path they are already on, we will only see an increase of social networking through internet media and on-line blogging, which in turn will perpetuate the growth of online purchasing. I believe it is the way of the future.

Thanks for considering us to be a part of your blog! I’m a big fan of what you’ve created.

Thanks, Travis!


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