PAWLEYS ISLAND — Now that Michael Owens has moved the production of his invention out of the garage workshop of his Pawleys Island home, he's prepared for the GPS Quick Clip to explode in popularity.
Until he hired Wright Plastic Products in August to produce them, Owens had been making rudimentary versions of the device that securely holds personal golf GPS devices and laser rangefinders in place on golf carts.
Wright, an automotive interior parts producer in the Detroit area, is producing the GPS Quick Clip through an injection molding process. Owens has an outstanding order of 1,200 units of the universal mount, which he sells for $29.95.
The GPS Quick Clip easily attaches to a golf cart side post by means of a small but powerful neodymium magnet with 50 pounds of pull. The clip is compatible with hand-held GPS units produced by all the leading manufacturers including Skycaddie, Garmin, Golf Buddy, SonoCaddie and Bushnell. Owens is in the process of making a heavy-duty Quick Clip for heavier range finders, including the Bushnell Medalist.
The popularity of the GPS Quick Clip was boosted with its selection as one of the three best new golf products for 2010 out of more than 250 new golf products at the 2010 PGA Merchandise Show in Orlando, Fla., in January. The honor was voted on by show attendees, and since the PGA Show he has sold more than 2,000 units produced mainly in his garage.
"It was amazing," Owens said of the Merchandise Show. "It was expensive, but it was the best thing I ever did, just for the business and contacts."
Owens rented a 3-by-3-foot space in the new-products section near the entrance of the show, and also had a 10-by-10 booth elsewhere on the showroom floor. He brought a couple hundred GPS Quick Clips and gave most away to pros, many of whom have ordered them to sell in their golf shops.
The idea to make the first Quick Clip came to Owens a couple years ago while he was playing at True Blue Plantation with a friend who was using a cart mount for a Skycaddie that Owens considered flimsy and unreliable. He also saw other friends putting GPS units in their pockets, in cart cupholders, seats or open spaces in the dashboard area.
GPS units can be viewed in the Quick Clip mount without removing if carts can be driven to the ball's location.
Owens created about six prototype versions of the mount in his garage over several months and gave them to his friends to test on the course.
He has filed a trademark and has a patent pending, and he estimates he has spent about $45,000 getting to this point with his invention.
"The patent was not expensive, but the patent attorney was expensive," Owens said.
Among his expenses, he said he paid $5,000 for a patent attorney, $11,000 to create the injection mold, and about $8,000 for the PGA Show including travel expenses. Creating a website was also costly.
"I'm spending my retirement money. My IRA is dwindling," Owens said. "Fortunately the stock market is coming back a little bit. I'm hoping to be able to put money back into my IRA account with the current marketing campaign we have."
Owens has hired John Brand of Brand Design Inc. of Washington, D.C., to be the marketing director for the product. "I can't do it myself and have no clue how to do it," Owens said.
The GPS Quick Clip is available at GPSQuickClip.com, at some golf course pro shops and in some retail stores, though few are on the Grand Strand. There is a list of carriers on the product's website.
The Quick Clip is not in Golf Dimensions, PGA Tour Superstore or Dick's Sporting Goods, but Owens is working on contacting company executives to get his product in those stores.
"I wasn't really able to contact anybody up until August because I was making them in my garage," he said.
Owens recently bought a list of 21,000 e-mail and mailing addresses of Skycaddie purchasers, and he's initially mailing sales brochures to 3,000 people on the list. He said research shows 5 percent to 7 percent can be expected to purchase a Quick Clip, but he's hoping for a higher percentage.
Owens, 61, has received the support of his wife of 39 years, Donna, in the GPS Quick Clip endeavor, and said that even if he knew the eventual cost he'd do it all over again.
"Yeah, I would have done it anyway," Owens said. "Everybody that has come in contact with it thinks it's the best thing since sliced bread. I get e-mails from people just about every day telling me how much they like it. Things like that keep me going."
He's hoping the product continues to gain exposure and popularity. "I just don't know how long it's going to take," Owens said. "I'm hoping to make a lot of money, but I'd like to just break even. A lot of people lose a lot of money with inventions. It may be a year or two before it really takes off. What I really want is for someone to buy the patent from me."
The GPS Quick Clip has a 100 percent satisfaction guarantee as well as a lifetime repair warranty.