Mike Rowley’s California-cool company in San Luis Obispo is used to coming up with classy new clothing for golfers.
Straight Down was born more than 30 years ago when Rowley started a small tee-shirt business. Three decades later he’s now joined the front-line battle as our nation is at war against the Corona Virus (COVID-19).
The entire golf world is on hold. Retail stores are closed, many golf courses and pro-shops within are closed.
Straight Down is open for business, although Rowley’s business model never included N-95 protective face masks and gowns for health care workers.
Rowley saw that the main healthcare provider in San Luis Obispo County needed help and he answered the call in a big way. Using his contacts in the manufacturing industry, Straight Down was recently able to deliver 75,000 protective masks and 31,000 gowns to Dignity Health.
This is just another incredible example of American business adjusting and adapting to help out in a circumstance never before seen in our nation.
Straight Down has been a prosperous small business and has kept 80 percent of its 75 employees on board during this crisis.
“Most important to us are our employees and customers,” Rowley said. “Then come our vendors, and making sure they are paid.”
Straight Down started its business as a 100 percent “Made In America” company. As it grew, it was nearly impossible to stay at that 100 percent level. “Whatever we can, we have made in the USA, a whole lot of it,” Rowley pointed out. “We have a manufacturing facility and a factory store. We cut and embroider and handle our distribution,” Rowley pointed out.
Like the rest of the country the past few years, things were humming nicely for Straight Down.
Then life in America changed in a way no one anticipated.
Rowley turned his attention to the protective supply problem and delivered big-time for his county health-care facilities.
Straight Down has become a recognizable golf brand although it started out in the beach/outdoor market. That’s where it focused for a half-dozen years until golfers started buying the clothing and gear.
Rowley grew up around golf. His grandfather was an accomplished amateur who was on a first-name basis with the likes of Ben Hogan and Sam Snead. “He’s the one who taught me the game,” Rowley said of his grandfather. So the progression to clothing for golfers wasn’t a far stretch. You’ve seen Larry Mize, Kenny Perry and Loren Roberts wear Straight Down on the senior circuit. Up-and-comers Mark Hubbard, Robert Streb along with D.J. Trahan are brand ambassadors on the PGA Tour.
With the tours on hold and more and more Americans working from home, Straight Down unveiled a new marketing campaign to reach them:
Cool campaign as more and more workers hit the video conference for company staff meetings.
“We’ve been through economic downturns,” Rowley reminded. “This one is a tough one for everyone.”
Straight Down as a company is healthy. “We’ve worked hard to have a good balance sheet,” said Rowley.
These times have been a tough learning curve for everyone.
“When we come out on the other side of this,” Rowley concluded, “the world is going to look different. Companies are going to have to take a hard look at themselves and in a lot of cases, re-invent themselves.”
Editor’s Note: One of the best things we can do in these times is support small businesses in the golf industry. If you feel so inclined, please click on the link below and do a little shopping. Use discount code “dognews25” and Mike will give you a 25 percent discount on your purchases!