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Small Biz Spotlight: Sonartec Inc.

Small Biz Spotlight: Sonartec Inc.

BY JULIE POUCHER HARBIN

Sonartec, Inc. is a small Carlsbad-based manufacturer and distributor of golf equipment, specializing in fairway woods. Sales grew from $2.2 million in 2002 to $3.5 million in 2003.

Sonartec products are distributed in 2,000 retail locations and golf pro shops with 15 distributors worldwide. Sponsored staff players include Nick Price, Bill Glasson, and Cliff Kresge. CEO Toru Davis Kamatari said Sontartec’s chief competitors are Callaway Golf Co. and TaylorMade-adidas Golf Co. in Carlsbad, Adams Golf, Ping (manufactured by Karsten Manufacturing Corp.), and Titleist (manufactured by Acushnet Co.).

According to Vice President Jim Uno, Sonartec ranked No. 3 for number of fairway woods in play in 15 PGA Tour events during 2003. The fairway woods report for the Wachovia Championship held May 7-10 ranked Sonartec No. 3 for number of fairway woods in play, according to the Darrell Survey, behind TaylorMade-adidas and Callaway.

RESUME

Name: Toru Davis Kamatari.

Title: President/CEO.

Company: Sonartec, Inc.

Address: 1939 Palomar Oaks Way, Suite B, Carlsbad.

Phone: (760) 930-2454.

Founded: December 1999.

Prior experience: Owned a scuba instruction business. Operated a retail golf shop in Waikiki, Hawaii. Helped launch Scotty Cameron putter business. and Bettinardi putter business.

Source of start-up capital: $100,000 private funding by three business principals.

2003 revenue: $3.5 million.

Number of employees: 18.

Web site: (www.sonartec.com).

BACKGROUND

Born: Dec 26, 1964, in Nishinomiya City, Hyogo, Japan.

Education: Kansai Gaidai College, Hawaii.

Residence: Carlsbad.

Family: Wife and puppy.

Hobbies: Movies, scuba diving, golf, reading novels.

JUDGMENT CALLS

Reason for getting into the business: After two successful ventures in distributing golf products into Japan and Hawaii, I wanted to expand my experience into building a major worldwide brand.

How I plan to grow the business: We plan to continue testing our products on the PGA Tour, since tour player acceptance is the best proving ground for golf equipment. We hope to double our current U.S. distribution from 2,000 locations to around 4,000 over the next three years, and expand our international distribution over the next 18 to 24 months.

Biggest business strength: I am a builder. I like to find something and make it grow.

Biggest business weakness: I hate making speeches to an audience! Also, since English is my second language, it sometimes causes some difficulty in business transactions.

Smartest business decision: I think some of the best decisions I made were the key people I hired. I think another best decision was to specialize in the niche market of fairway woods.

Biggest business mistake: Sometimes, I put too much faith in people and their word. I believe in being straightforward, and expect others to do the same. Being that way, I like to come to agreement and go. Sometimes, that means formal contracts and agreements don’t follow until much later. That has hurt sometimes in the past.

Biggest ongoing challenge: To stay on track toward our goal of doubling sales, generating profits, and growing our company in a responsible way.

DREAMS

Goals yet to be achieved: We are still virtually unknown to all but the top tier of players in the industry. We are working hard to build our brand into a universally recognized name in golf worldwide.

My five-year business plan: I think we can continue to be a niche player for another 3-5 years and still reach our growth goals.

I would sell my business only if: There must be a good fit between us and any purchaser. And naturally, the price would have to be right!

PHILOSOPHY

Guiding principles: Develop products that are second to none. Find good people to work with. Find a way to help everyone I deal with make more money

Most admired entrepreneur: My father and mother. They always worked hard. They always treated their employees very well. They taught me to not settle for anything but the best. They taught me to anticipate and stretch and be prepared for things before a situation arises.

Important lessons learned: Early in my career, I was very picky and controlling. Now, I can adapt to the people I have working for me and can figure out what is the best way to provide motivation and yet a comfortable environment in order for them to succeed.

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