William Carey is an avid golfer who also happened to have a golf ball background and manufacturing experience. He took his passion for golf and experience in the industry and made the first significant innovation in golf in nearly a decade.
Carey founded Dixon Golf in 2008 and has led the golf industry in the concept of sustainability, manufacturing golf balls that are both high performance and 100 percent recyclable.
MO: What inspired you to launch Dixon Golf?
William: We had been making golf balls for some of the top names in the industry. As time progressed, we saw that everything was becoming more eco-friendly, especially on the corporate side. We said to ourselves ‘We are golf ball guys. Let’s help golfers be more environmentally responsible without hurting quality or raising prices’ We saw a niche and began development of the first high performance eco-friendly golf ball, the Dixon Earth.
MO: Did people initially embrace the concept of a sustainable golf ball?
William: Everyone embraced the concept. Academically, it was a winner. But golfers are competitive and brand loyal by nature and their real concern is playability of the ball. As with any new product, particularly new eco-friendly products, there’s some question as to quality. We worked hard – and still work hard – to dispel the notion that ‘eco-friendly’ means ‘inferior quality’.
MO: I love that not only is your product eco friendly and sustainable but you’re entire work culture is based on the same principles. How hard was it to implement things like a no disposable water bottle policy, recycled paper and encouraging carpooling and public transportation among staff?
William: Its a lot easier to do when you start off that way from the beginning. We try to cultivate a fun, egalitarian work environment. All ideas are heard, whether it’s your first day in the office, or you’ve been here since day one. That being said, we’re very conscious of ‘green washing’, so everything we do has to be to the highest standards of ecological concern. For us, it’s not a marketing ploy, it’s how we really feel. Why throw away water bottles, when you can drink from a reusable container? A few of our employees live in the same apartment complex and drive to work together…why wouldn’t they? A lot of what we do is just common sense.
MO: Do your golf balls cost more or are they competitively priced?
William: They are competitively priced with balls of similar quality. In fact, we offer credits to those who recycle their old golf balls which can make our products actually cost less than the competition for those who take advantage of the recycling.
MO: Aside from being non-recyclable do traditional golf balls pose any other hazards to the environment?
William: 2 billion golf balls are manufactured annually, so aside from the landfill use issue, traditional golf balls can contain cheap heavy metal fillers like lead, tungsten, cobalt and zinc, amongst other harmful elements. If a golf ball is lost in the environment, it will eventually break down; once it does, those elements leach into the ecosystem, polluting water tables.
MO: How did it feel when Don Cheadle offered to use your product without any compensation?
William: Don actually called me out of the blue. I didn’t know any of his people and we had no mutual associations. He just happens to be an avid golfer who is also concerned about the environment. He was looking online for eco-friendly golf products and ordered some balls from our website. After testing their quality he gave me a call. Initially when he called, we weren’t looking for a celebrity spokesperson. It only took a little while to see how genuine he was. He then said “William, I’m not in this for the money. I’ve got a pretty good day job. I just love the game of golf and want to feel a little better when I lose a ball.” As soon as he said that, I realized how much he got what we were trying to do. He has been a great advocate ever since and I have truly appreciated his involvement.
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