Golf Warehouse to expand, hire more

Growth drives sports company to consolidate

04/13/2011 12:00 AM

04/13/2011 6:55 AM

The Golf Warehouse is consolidating operations, expanding into a warehouse across the street and hiring more workers. The company — founded in Wichita in 1998, but owned by Redcats USA since 2006 — is seeing strong growth in the sale of golf, baseball, softball and soccer merchandise.

The current 105,000-square-foot building at 8851 E. 34th St. North is overflowing. Boxes of sports gear are piled in the aisles between the warehouse shelves.

To solve the problem, TGW is leasing 130,000 square feet in the warehouse across 34th Street, and taking an option on another 70,000 square feet.

"This is one of the biggest risks we have taken in our 13 years, to sign this lease, from an overall dollar commitment," CEO Brad Wolansky said. "We are committed for the life of the lease."

TGW will hire 24 full-time workers for the warehouse within about six months, Wolansky said. Some of those positions will be filled from temporary workers already working at the warehouse.

Within five years, he said, the company expects to add a total of 105 positions.

The company now has 225 full-time workers and 59 temps.

The Kansas Department of Commerce has promised to reimburse the company for training costs. The city of Wichita and Sedgwick County have promised forgivable loans, although the amount was not available Tuesday. The deal was coordinated by the Greater Wichita Economic Development Coalition.

On Monday, TGW started moving some items across the street. Over the next four months, the company will build out the space, adding new lights and storage racks.

The company also will install in-floor wiring that will guide specially built forklifts, which will relieve forklift operators from steering so they can focus on retrieving items.

After August, the company will move its baseball, softball and soccer gear to the new building. It expects to move the golf gear later, as growth permits.

TGW will keep its current building, a large white building visible on the north side of K-96. That building will house TGW's retail store, offices and call center.

There will be plenty of space in that building for the expected growth, Wolansky said. The company plans to start marketing its soccer gear heavily this summer and introduce in the fall a new sport line that he wouldn't disclose.

The expansion of TGW into the other warehouse wasn't the company's only option, Wolansky said.

The company had double-digit growth in 2010 and is expecting that again in 2011. Last year, TGW had to decide how to fix its overcrowding problem, Wolansky said.

TGW now has golf equipment in 100,000 square feet of Redcats' massive warehouse near Indianapolis.

At first, the company expected to move the baseball gear to Indiana, he said. That was the least expensive solution.

But consolidating everything in one place simplified logistics and improved the customer experience.

"We took more of a long-term perspective," he said.

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