BERMUDA DUNES — The popularity of those cutesy, British-made Mini Cooper cars wasn't lost on Steve Richardson, marketing director of Fairway Golf Cars, as a way to boost golf car sales.
“We wanted to offer some real diversity to golf car enthusiasts,” Richardson said, tipping his hat to Fairway General Manager Mark Stanley, who came up with the idea and production of the unique design.
Production of the new Mini Cooper model, exclusive to Fairway Golf Cars, just started on the assembly line in an undisclosed location in the Coachella Valley.
In four months, Fairway Golf Cars have built seven Mini Coopers, which sell for $8,995 “in any color in the Mini Cooper range.”
“The funny thing is that three of the first four we sold were bought by people who owned real Mini Coopers,” Richardson said. “There are many Mini Cooper car enthusiasts here. We have orders for another four.”
The biggest challenge is making calls to their vendors, some of whom are located in the United Kingdom.
“It is not unusual for us to have to make calls at odd times during the night because of the time change,” he said with a laugh.
For authenticity of look and feel, the emblems are custom-made because there is no official connection with Mini Cooper car manufacturer.
“Another challenge we had was finding the right kind of headlights to import from the UK,” he said.
The Mini Cooper golf car, which takes about 10 days to build, is one reason for solid sales of all Fairway golf carts this year .
Richardson said sales and trade-ins slowed initially two years ago as the economy soured. People were hanging on to the golf cars they had.
“We have always been financially prudent and maintain a high level of personal service which brings us repeat business,” Richardson said, noting Fairway has about 30 custom golf cars in inventory.
“We see the economy slowly bouncing back,” he said. “We see a renewed interest in golf cars and in replacing their (customer's) golf cars.”
Another reason for sustained business, he said, is the weekly showing of golf cars at the Street Fair at College of the Desert for the past six years.
“Sales from that campaign have been very lucrative this year.
“With four employees, we generally work seven days a week,” Richardson said.
Word-of-mouth referrals are a major reason why Fairway Golf Cars has been in business for 25 years.
“When customers come in who have purchased a car here and need a light bulb or something, we don't charge them for those kinds of things,” Richardson said.
“That's why they come back. We treat our customers the ‘Fairway,' which is why it's our motto.”