Oakville’s Zack Creed has been involved in the game of golf since his teen years as captain of his high school golf team in New Jersey. He continued to pursue his passion while attending college in Las Vegas, winning championships, teaching the sport, joining the PGA, managing courses, marketing golf at trade shows, and more. He’s now about to open a multipurpose golf facility in Oakville, Ontario, where he now lives, where he will offer a range of services and amenities to other golfers at all levels.
After all these years of playing and teaching golf, what made you decide to become an entrepreneur?
Zack Creed: For me, it was a natural progression. After college, I became very involved in the business side of golf, specifically marketing, and attended a lot of trade shows where I met some great professionals who influenced me, as did my early mentors. In college, my friends and I often talked about how much fun — and possibly profitable — it would be to create the ideal golf facility, a place where anyone could go to learn more about the game, get coaching, buy gear, and even relax. After working for some wonderful bosses, I decided to give it a shot.
What did it take for you to ultimately make the move in that direction?
Zack Creed: I think you know when the time is right — or can at least make an educated guess about that. In Oakville there are a number of golf enthusiasts but not really any facilities that offer an array of opportunities for golfers that ours does, so I’m very confident in both the concept and the marketability. Our plans are public and I’ve heard personally from several golfers that they’re looking forward to it. I have a strong entrepreneurial drive and have looked at things from every angle with regarding to serving needs.
What have you learned from your past experiences regarding the dos and don’ts when it comes to running a successful business.
Zack Creed: There are so many things, and I’ve been really fortunate in that some of my past bosses were extremely successful business people. When I was younger and starting out, they taught me many, many important business lessons and showed me the way, particularly with how they ran their companies. So, the mentorship I’ve received prepared me well for the journey I’m on today.
Since college, I’ve met numerous golfing people and business people from around the world, spent quality time with them, asked a lot of questions, and listened closely to what they said. Also, when I was active doing trade shows I was able to observe firsthand which golfing companies did what and how they approached everything, from mission statements and packaging to sales and marketing. I’m a people person and the experience of building so many positive and strong relationships with other golf professionals has been beneficial to me in so many ways.
How have you been able to deal with the inevitable challenges of starting a new business? It seems that there must have been some areas in which you faced some obstacles?
Zack Creed: Yes, when starting a new company you run into many, many things that happen unexpectedly. Although I’ve been careful to plan things out in as detailed and comprehensive a manner as possible — which in itself requires a ton of work and energy — there are challenges I’ve encountered that required expertise beyond what I bring to the table. This is why it’s crucial to select the right people to be part of your business orbit, and also to be your partners, vendors and employees. I’ve been involved with the business side of golf for quite some time now and I’ve long been well aware that you need to work with people who are experts in their own fields of endeavor. Strong teamwork that involves the best and the brightest helps you deal with those things that may not be in your wheelhouse or, are unexpected.
What leadership lessons can you share from both your golfing and entrepreneurial experiences?
Zack Creed: Without question, the biggest one is to value the people with whom you’re working. As a golf instructor and coach, one of my responsibilities is to observe the people I teach and learn what they do correctly, and in what areas they require improvement. As a company founder and owner I have to evaluate people the same way. This especially means recognizing employees’ skills and talents and not only using them where they’re needed, but giving the employees the opportunities to enhance them. Doing that only helps the company. If there are crucial areas in which they’re not as strong, it’s good to help them through professional development opportunities. But above all, you need to respect the individuals who work for you and let them know you value their contributions. When employees are treated well and take pride in the work they do, they’ll also be effective team members. And a cohesive team can accomplish virtually anything.