The last few months have been something of a blur for Curt Busching, managing partner of Ridgeland-based Golf Cars of Mississippi, and Grady Mayeaux, inventor and marketing consultant for Earth Care Green Products. The two men did not even meet until last October. Today, the pair is fielding inquiries from all over the world about an innovative new product, peel-and-stick solar roofs for golf carts, which recently won top honors from the PGA.
“I am a believer in fate,” Busching said. “Everything has just come together.”
Mayeaux, a Louisiana native who now resides in Georgia, could find nothing to add to that.
“It is really exciting,” Mayeaux said. “It’s moving at warp speed.”
The whirlwind affair began when Busching picked up a recent edition of Golf Car News. Thumbing through, he found an ad for Mayeaux’s peel-and-stick solar roofs for golf carts. To Busching, this seemed too good to be true, a potential answer to a problem plaguing his clients.
“Last summer when gas got so high, I started getting calls from clients who were having problems with people siphoning gas out of their golf carts,” he said. “With that, I started looking for an alternative.”
One option was a switch to electric-powered carts. However, a lot of his clients had no where to plug in the carts. This requires the construction of a cart barn, which is too expensive for many.
Busching discovered one product that held some promise. He found a company offering glass top solar roofs. The solar panels would allow the carts to be charged without having to worry about plug-ins. However, the product only worked when in direct sunlight, and the glass tops made the carts top heavy, increasing the risk of rollovers.
Thus, when Busching saw Mayeaux’s ad, he was more than intrigued. Busching picked up the phone and called Mayeaux, who was thrilled that he gotten such quick response from someone of Busching’s credentials.
“Curt was one of the first people to call me. It was literally within days of receiving my patent.” Mayeaux said. “He was enthusiastic, encouraged me and showed real initiative.”
Initiative, indeed, as Busching, a 20-year veteran of the golf and golf-related industry, offered to drive to Atlanta for a face-to-face meeting. Busching said he and Mayeaux built an immediate rapport. He was impressed with Mayeaux and grew even more excited about the product after he saw it. Mayeaux offered a prototype for Busching to “test drive.”
Bringing it back to Mississippi, Busching found the solar roofs to be as good as advertised. In a personal trial, he shot a round of golf with a solar-roofed cart. The cart’s battery was reading 49 volts when he teed off. It was reading 49.5 when he finished.
Busching brought it to the shop and let his technicians test it. They did, and retested it, and retested it again. He said they just could not believe the results.
The biggest test, however, was when he gave one to a client who routinely rode 18-36 holes per day. The golf pro would normally have to recharge his golf cart’s battery every day. Six weeks later, he had not charged it once.
The tops, which weigh a few pounds and can be installed in less than 30 minutes, had other things going for them, as well. Because they continuously charge the batteries, the batteries’ life is extended by one to two years, significant considering replacing the batteries in a cart costs on average $1,000. And, it offered a “green” alternative fuel — it not only saved energy, but also was environmentally friendly.
Busching said he was convinced Mayeaux “had a firecracker.” The challenge was how to get the word out about it.
Busching suggested Mayeaux try and get into the PGA Merchandise Show, held in January in Orlando, Fla. Busching held little hope that Mayeaux could gain entry, but, as fate would have it, an exhibitor had just scratched, and a booth was available between Club Cars and Easy Go, two of GCM’s manufacturers.
The two men showed up at the three-day show with their wives in tow, which was very fortunate. Between Busching’s contacts and Mayeaux’s innovative product, they could not serve the volume of traffic at the booth. The wives kept potential clients occupied while the two men “worked the crowd.”
“It was incredible,” Busching said. “We would go back to the hotel every day after the show ended and were just amazed at the response. The buzz was amazing.”
The crowning moment came the final day of the show. Mayeaux’s peel-and-stick solar roofs won a “Best New Product” award.
GCM’s phones have been ringing ever since, and the product’s web site, www.solarenergygolfcarts.com, is seeing ever-increasing traffic. Busching said inquiries have been fielded from as far away as Scotland and Iceland.
On Feb. 28, an official unveiling of the peel-and-stick roofs will be held at GCM. Busching said he is extremely proud that the product will be rolled out here in Mississippi. After that, the men plan to work up the eastern seaboard, then head west to Las Vegas and Hawaii.
Contact MBJ staff writer Wally Northway at firstname.lastname@example.org.