50 years of Club Car manufacturing – our history
Club Car’s colorful history dates to 1958 and a Dallas, Texas-based company named Landreath Machine, which produced some of the nation’s first golf cars. In 1962, an Augusta businessman named Bill Stevens purchased the four-year-old Texas company and moved it to Augusta, where he began operations with a handful of employees. The company’s first new model was a golf car dubbed the “Caroche,” the word for an elegant French carriage. But the name didn’t exactly roll off the tongue. Some people took to calling it the “car roach” or the “cockroach,” and the company wisely dropped the name.
But golf cars were beginning to roll off Club Car’s new production line, and the company’s growth attracted the attention of several suitors. In 1978 a group of eight senior executives and managers from Augusta-based E-Z-GO, the industry’s largest golf car manufacturer at the time, pulled up stakes and with the financial support of a venture capital firm purchased Club Car.
One of new owners’ first moves was a product extension into utility vehicles for the golf course. The first of the new utility vehicles were simply golf cars modified with a utility box on the back.
Moving quickly, the company brought in designer Dom Saporito and in late 1980 introduced a stylish electric golf car with the model name DS, the designer’s initials. Modified, tweaked and improved over the next two decades, Club Car rode the DS golf car and the growth of golf course construction to dramatic market share gains and industry-wide respect.
In 1985, Club Car introduced the first of its modern-day utility vehicles, the Carryall II. The Carryall II gave Club Car a presence in the turf maintenance market that has continued to grow.
There would be three more ownership changes in the next 17 years before Club Car was purchased in 1995 by Ingersoll Rand.
One Million Milestone
On March 9, 2001 – “Club Car Day in Augusta,” as decreed by the city’s mayor – the one millionth vehicle rolled off the production line at the Club Car plant on Washington Road in Evans. As the last of the “original eight” investors from 1978 still on the job, Randy Strozier was on board as the DS golf car came down the ramp and his fellow associates cheered.
On January 1, 2004, after nearly five years of research and development, Club Car introduced Precedent, a golf car that immediately set a new standard for performance, styling and comfort. That same year, Club Car introduced the Carryall 294, the company’s entry in the four-wheel drive category that featured the industry’s first on-demand four-wheel drive system.
Even while Precedent was being critically acclaimed and widely accepted in the golf industry, Club Car was moving to diversify its product line to adapt to changing market conditions.
Members of Club Car’s Carryall line of utility and transportation vehicles are now on the job moving people and hauling cargo in commercial, industrial, recreational and educational settings around the world. Club Car’s XRT line of light-duty and heavy-duty all-wheel-drive vehicles is also exceeding expectations for durability, versatility and ease of operation on the farm, around the lake and just about any place a trustworthy and fun-to-drive small vehicle is required.
New Face of Customer experience
In 2010 Club Car introduced golf’s first mobile information system. Known as Visage, the system represents the golf car industry’s most extensive marriage of vehicle and technology to help course managers address critical revenue and expense needs while enhancing customer satisfaction. Visage utilizes a combination of cellular, wireless and Global Positioning System technologies to create what Club Car calls the “new face of customer experience.”
The two millionth vehicle produced by Club Car is one company founders never would have imagined when they began producing golf cars more than 50 years ago. Golf cars and utlity vehicles dominated production at Club Car during its first half century. But the vehicle chosen to symbolize the manufacturing milestone, which fell on Earth Day 2010, was a Villager LSV, a zero-emission vehicle that incorporates a number of features as defined by federal regulations that enable the vehicle to be driven on specfied public roads with speed limts of 35 mph or less.
LSVs are the fastest-growing segment in the light transportation vehicle market. They’re especially popular for short commutes, shopping, transportation and deliveries in campus-style environments, including hospitals, clinics, schools and universities.
While product names change and their capabilities expand, one thing that hasn’t changed at Club Car is the commitment of its people to quality workmanship and superior service. The answer to the question “What’s driving Club Car?” continues to be a desire to meet and exceed customers’ expectations.
Club Car through the Years
|1958||Incorporated in Houston, Texas, by Landreath Machine.|
|1962||Purchased by Augusta, Ga., businessman William Stevens and moved to Augusta.|
|1973||Purchased by Johns Manville.|
|1978||Purchased by an investment group and eight businessmen who worked for Augusta-based E-Z-GO.|
|1979||Expanded product line to include the company’s first utility vehicles, which were simply golf cars modified with a utility box on the back.|
|1980||Introduced the DS model electric golf car, which utilized a 48-volt electric motor to improve power and efficiency.|
|1993||IPO took Club Car public; stock traded on the NASDAQ exchange.|
|1995||Company and outstanding stock purchased by Clark Equipment Co. Later that year, Clark was acquired by Ingersoll Rand, a global innovations and solutions provider with leading brands in a wide range of industrial markets.|
|2001||The one millionth Club Car vehicle, a DS electric golf car, rolled off the production line during a special ceremony on March 9.|
|2001||Philip J. Tralies named president and CEO, replacing Mont Miller, who retired after 14 years with Club Car.|
|2004||Introduced Precedent, which set a new standard for styling, performance and comfort in a fleet golf car.|
|2004||Introduced Carryall 294, Club Car’s entry in the four-wheel drive category, featuring the industry’s first on-demand four-wheel drive system.|
|2005||Began introduction of the IQ System high-performance drive system in Carryall Turf utility vehicles.|
|2006||Introduced IQ Plus, a beefier version of the IQ System, enabling electric utility vehicles to handle many of the same tough jobs that once required the strength of gasoline power.|
|2007||Introduced “Honor the Game” theme as a platform from which to recognize the people and organizations that support golf and to help grow the game.Extended Premier Partner relationship with National Golf Course Owners Assoc.|
|2008||Introduced Precedent i2 and Precedent i2L featuring the new Excel™ drive system.Introduced street legal Carryall 2 and Carryall 6 LSVs featuring an alternating current electric drive system to commercial markets.Phil Tralies named chairman; Gary Michel named president and CEO.|
|2009||Introduced Villager 2+2 LSV, company’s first street legal low-speed vehicle for the consumer market.Phil Tralies retired as chairman.|
|2010||Introduced Visage, the golf industry’s first mobile information system. The system represents the golf car industry’s most extensive marriage of vehicle and technology.|