Business includes golf and promotions

BETTER THAN PAR

October 01, 1991|By Michael Pollick

It has long been a business truism that many of the best deals are agreed to on the golf course.

For Jimmy and Stuart Rosenfield, golf is often found at the beginning, middle and end of the deal.

The two brothers started their Owings Mills-based company, Lightning Golf & Promotions, with the idea of running golf tournaments for businesses or trade associations.

They still do that, but it has led to a much larger business opportunity: filling the endless need of corporations for promotional merchandise -- shirts, pens, key rings, umbrellas and plaques.

Jimmy, age 30, started the business in November 1990, and his brother, who is 28, joined him in March.

Before this, Jimmy sold business insurance for Charter Group, and Stuart was a stockbroker at the Paramel brokerage firm in Pikesville.

When the company started, it was "strictly golf," Jimmy Rosenfield said. "We quickly found that everybody who buys golf-related things also buys other promotional items. So we decided to broaden our base and do everything."

Scattered around Jimmy Rosenfield's office are the tools of his new trade -- golf umbrellas and putters leaning against the credenza, shirts and caps on top.

As a distributor that is starting to get some big orders, Lightning is in an enviable situation.

It can choose among more than 1,000 manufacturers for the best price and quality.

"We're not obligated to use anyone in particular," said Jimmy Rosenfield. "Just find the best quality and easiest people to work with."

Trak Auto, the Landover-based auto accessory and parts retailer, is a good example of the company's golf synergy.

The sales representative for Castrol Oil wanted to do a golf promotion with Trak and invited the Rosenfields to make a presentation. "That particular promo never panned out, but it got us in the door," said Jimmy Rosenfield.

Trak, it turned out, was trying to jazz up grand openings for stores into a more effective vehicle that would keep customers coming back.

Lightning's promotional gimmick: hand out baseball caps with buttons attached. The button can be turned in for another free item -- a squeeze bottle. The squeeze bottle, in turn, contains a coupon offering a discount during a return visit to the store.

Customers such as Trak Auto have led to impressive revenues for a start-up company in its first full year of operations. Although it employs only three people, Lightning has generated more than $500,000 in sales this year, according to Jimmy Rosenfield, and is headed for a full-year total of $750,000.

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