It's hip to be in a Quagmire

CHRIS STEVENSON

, Last Updated: 9:40 AM ET

ORLANDO -- Bobby Pasternak turned away from his conversation outside the Quagmire Golf booth here yesterday, nestled among the 10 miles of aisles at the PGA Merchandise Show.

"That guy was from the largest golf store in New York City," said the co-founder of Quagmire, the Mississauga-based maker of some cutting-edge golf apparel. The buyer wants to try selling Quagmire's gear in the store located across the street from Macy's in Manhattan.

That could be another coup for the company which is riding a wave right now. RBC Canadian Open winner Chez Reavie wore what's become a trademark shirt on his way to winning his first PGA Tour event last July and that exposure boosted the brand's visibility and helped them enjoy some steady traffic here at the show.

They'll be in 15 Canadian Golf Town stores starting on April 1.

It's been a quick ascent for a company Pasternak and partner Geoff Tait started with a $6,000 stake in 2005. Tait used to own a surfer-board wear company and then worked on cruise ships before he crossed paths with Pasternak, a student at McGill University at the time, when they hosted a group of teens on a golf trip to Florida.

NICHE MARKET

The kids were wearing non-traditional brands on the course and the pair recognized a niche: Golf clothes that would be perceived by kids as cool, but hold a broader appeal for older golfers by sticking to golf's dress code.

They started with a 15-sample collection and worked some contacts. Pasternak's brother was a personal trainer in Hollywood and they got their clothes into the hands of some of celebrities.

Tait used to work the backshop at the St. Thomas Golf and Country Club and through pro Dan Campbell, they got their bright-coloured shirts with bold piping and plaid shorts into pro shops at St. Thomas, Hamilton Golf and Country Club and Rattlesnake Point.

"Dan Campbell is kind of my mentor and a great guy. For us to be able to say we were in clubs like St. Thomas or Hamilton is the only reason we're in business right now," said Tait.

The company philosophy is a little brash and emphasizes fun.

"Quagmire is the rough, the marsh, the bog," said Pasternak. "You hit your ball in the quagmire, you're not fit for the fairway. That's our company slogan. That's what we stand by, that's what we live by because we're a little bit different, but we're not too far out there."

When Pasternak and Tait were looking for a PGA Tour player to wear their gear, they contacted a management company which represents athletes. After the company passed out some samples, they were told they had a young player interested.

They agreed to a $10,000 endorsement deal. Safe to say that deal with Reavie -- who few casual fans had heard of before his breakthrough win at Glen Abbey -- has paid off.

CREDIBILITY

"Chez put us on a world-wide scale. It was amazing. He gave us credibility. Some people didn't know who we were before," said Pasternak. "Chez got the name out there. He wore the right shirt on the right day, he hoisted the trophy high and we had a picture worth a thousand words. We were lucky enough to have that happen for us and ride the wave and keep making cool clothes."

They've re-upped with Reavie for this season. There's a shirt called the "Reavie," in the line along with "Better Hit Another," "Slice," "Hook," and "Where's My Car." Quagmire also has a women's line.

Pasternak said they are trying to position Quagmire as a lifestyle brand with designs that work away from the course, as well. All their product is produced in Canada.

"We take pride making it in Canada," said Pasternak. "Keep the jobs where they should be and keep the quality up where it should be."

Breaking into golf's big leagues is a tough go, as a player on or off the course.

Quagmire looks like it's on its way.


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