Leonard Brooks spent the majority of his career as an Investment Banker focused on Corporate Finance and Private Equity. He is now an active Board Member, serving as Chairman of SubAir Systems, Vice Chairman of a real estate company, a Board Member of an Internet-of-Things company and an Advisory Director of an insulation company that uses advanced sensors and technology. He is an active participant in local and regional amateur golf events, having played college golf at William & Mary. Brooks was an active participant on the junior golf tournament schedule in the metropolitan NY area, where he grew up, before heading to Williamsburg for college. Following graduation, he played golf on a more casual basis as he no longer had the time to practice and prepare for tournaments as his “Wall Street” work schedule and family became top priorities. After retiring early from Wall Street his love of golf became re-kindled.
“It was sort of a natural when I heard that a significant interest in SubAir was available for purchase that I was interested.” That was five years ago. Since then we have seen the golf business, which had been struggling for five years, begin to improve. Every day, I become more and more excited thinking that our business, whether it be a SubAir System or Turf Breeze fan, is helping golf course superintendents maximize the performance and conditions of their courses.
You wake up in the morning — what’s the driving passion?
Keeping our clients happy and educating our potential clients
What was the genesis for the creation of Sub Air?
SubAir was founded by Marsh Benson, the former Golf Course Superintendent at Augusta National Golf Club. Marsh invented a system that provides sub-surface aeration that can also assist in the drainage of greens. The actual system was created for agronomic reasons, although it is probably best known because of golf announcers talking about how it can remove moisture from greens in case it rains during a tournament.
How long from concept idea to actual product implementation?
This has been a 20+ year evolution. It started as a basic straightforward technology with an on-off switch that was a tool that golf course superintendents could use to enhance their ability to get the gas exchange and moisture levels that they desired. Over the years, the company has found ways to add features including heat and cooling that can further help greenskeepers optimize performance. More recently we have deployed a patent-pending feature that allows superintendents to receive data remotely via smart phones and manage the system from anywhere in the world.
What’s the primary benefit in using SubAir?
The primary benefit is agronomic. It is sub-surface aeration as well as removal of excess moisture. The goal is to provide golf course superintendents an opportunity to enhance root growth and better manage the putting greens.
Outline the approximate costs for courses seeking to include such a system?
The SubAir system price can vary based on a variety of factors including size of green and a desire for above (or below) ground systems. A good working number for those estimating the cost is $21,000-$24,000 per green.
Given the significant costs involved — what real possibility is there for those courses / facilities that don’t have the deepest of pockets to use SubAir?
We have recently arranged for the financing of our system through PNC Equipment Finance which can allow a facility to spread the cost of the system with a 2-5 year term and monthly payments. Also, many of our clients will initially purchase a few units to work with the most challenging greens and then add more units over the next several years. For those potential clients that have push-up greens don’t have the capital or desire to install drainage pipes we have a product called PCD, which stands for passive capillary drainage. You can’t hook a SubAir system to it, but the product does help drainage without incurring the expense of tearing up the greens.
The breakdown of your primary clients by category is what approximate percentage — private clubs, resorts, privately owned daily fee facilities?
Our products can be found at private clubs, resorts and daily fee facilities. We are most often found at private clubs such as Winged Foot or Congressional, resorts such as Shadow Creek in Las Vegas and daily fees facilities such as Pebble Beach where they have SubAir Systems under some of their greens.
Companies routinely tout the importance of customer service. Define the term and the approach you take on this topic?
The customer is always right. While our system rarely has problems, it comes with a 12-month warranty. We also offer an annual service and support package that allows for an annual onsite visit by a certified SubAir maintenance technician.
Where do you see future technological improvement impacting your efforts?
SubAir constantly is upgrading our products to meet the needs of our clients, however I will hold back on announcing anything specific at this time.
Biggest short and long-term challenges facing the company in the years ahead?
Our biggest challenge is to always be filling our clients’ needs. My biggest fear is that somehow we have failed to meet with and properly educate our clients about the application and benefits of our suite of products: the SubAir System, TurfBreeze fans and PCD – Passive Capillary Drainage.
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