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Don't putter around with the future, golf CEO says

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Do what you are passionate about, and never waiver on your vision.

That is the advice students at Cal State San Marcos received Wednesday from Mark King, CEO of TaylorMade Golf, who was this week's guest for the "In The Executive's Chair" series at the college.

King started his career at TaylorMade, and except for a year at the competing company Callaway Golf (NYSE: ELY), he has been there ever since.

His passion is golf. And working for a leading, high-end golf company lets him live that passion.

But when King took over the role of CEO more than seven years ago, the company was in need of renewed guidance and vision.

And King, who had been groomed for the position by the outgoing CEO, was the man for the job.

He decided, without any real plan in place at the time, that the company would be the number one golf company in the world.

"It created a reason for employees to come in every day," he said, explaining that the long-term aspiration was inspiring and boosted morale. "We didn't have an exact plan to do that, we just had the dream of it."

His vision was to be the best. And King said a good leader never waivers on that vision.

TaylorMade was a $300 million company in 1999. It now is a $1.3 billion company -- a figure that will rise to nearly $1.5 billion if the pending acquisition of Ashworth Golf is completed -- and has a 13 percent operating margin.

While many businesses are fretting over the volatile economy, TaylorMade is thriving.

King said that ever since Sept. 11, 2001 the U.S. economy has not been as great as it once was. But TaylorMade realized that there still is a portion of society that will buy high-end tools.

"We moved all of our products from mid-level to way at the high end," he said. "Even though business is down, people will still pay a lot for technology."

And the company shifted its focus to include Asian markets. More than half of all TaylorMade business comes from outside the United States and accounts for 60 percent of the profit.

While King is proud that the company now accounts for about 30 percent of all golf supply business around the world, there still is room to grow.

Keeping true to his vision, he said the next goal is to reach the $2 billion mark.


Related Video:

Interview with Mark King

Effective corporate leadership: Mark King

Send your comments to Erin.Bridges@sddt.com

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