Since the company’s inception in 1959, Ping has been a family-run business. The recent elevation of John K. Solheim, the oldest son of Ping chairman and CEO John A. Solheim, and grandson of company founder Karsten Solheim, to the next president of Ping maintains that continuity for the foreseeable future. John K. – who served as executive vice president for the past two years after a four-year stint as president of Ping Golf Japan – here are extracts of his interview with E. Michael Johnson.
Is being a privately-owned, family-run company an advantage, disadvantage or a little of both?
“I’d say a little of both. From the standpoint of being able to raise funds through a secondary offering or such, we don’t have access to that. But there are far more positives than negatives. You can do what you want to do, not what you think you need to do to satisfy someone else. We’re also very comfortable with the size of our business, so we don’t have to constantly plan on year-over-year growth. If we do have that growth, that’s gravy for us. We’re in it for the long run, not some short-term gain. What we’re doing is working and continues to work. We’ve been around since 1959, which now, is a pretty long time.”
What did you learn from your father or grandfather that will serve you well in your new role with the company?
“My dad is almost never happy with the design of a product. He’s always challenging us to do better. It drove me crazy for many years, but I finally saw the reasoning behind it. It always leads to a better product. That was a good lesson. With Karsten, he was a great problem solver. You also never knew what to expect. So from a leadership standpoint, he kept everyone on their toes because they never really knew when he was going to swing by their desk. Everyone knew their work had to be good — because he could show up at any minute and ask about what you were working on. He really got the best out of everyone. I hope to do the same.”
Source: Johnson, E. Michael, February 8, 2017, http://www.golfdigest.com/story/pings-new-president-john-k-solheim-talks-about-leading-his-familys-business