- The Washington Times - Monday, March 24, 2003

Rick Oleksyk has teed up to take command at Pride Golf Products Division, a Gaithersburg subsidiary of Pride/Softspikes Inc.
Formerly known as Softspikes Inc., the manufacturer of plastic golf cleats merged in January with Pride Manufacturing Inc., a Guilford, Maine, manufacturer of wooden golf tees.
Mr. Oleksyk, 40, moved up with the acquisition to president of Pride Golf Products, overseeing the daily operations in sales, marketing, distribution and customer service for the golf shoes and cleats.
"It's been a pretty smooth transition so far," Mr. Oleksyk said. Part of the challenge in the new position is learning the intricacies of the Pride golf tee, part of Mr. Oleksyk's merchandise responsibility.
"The manufacturing of the golf tee is more complex than I had realized and it's overlooked by the common golfer," he added.
Pride tees are designed in different lengths, within U.S. Golf Association regulations, for each club. The added height in a tee is critical to getting extra power from a swing, Mr. Oleksyk said.
Mr. Oleksyk plans to enhance the brand awareness of the tees as he has done for Softspikes shoes for the last five years as vice president of sales. Before Softspikes, he was a field sales manager for Kimberly-Clark, a manufacturer of name-brand products such as Kleenex tissues and Huggies diapers.
The tee-awareness campaign is a part of the advertising strategy Mr. Oleksyk has mapped out for the company's national retailers, which range from specialty golf stores such as FootJoy to sports retailers including Sport's Authority and Dick's.
Pride/Softspikes also will build on the brand awareness of the plastic cleats that more golfers are trading in for their metal-spiked shoes to lessen the damage on the green, Mr. Oleksyk said.
He said the campaign's timing will help move the new company forward as spring takes full swing.
"One thing we've seen is pent-up demand for our merchandise, and that's a good indicator that people want to get out to the course."
Bob Burr, chief executive officer and president of Pride/Softspikes, said Mr. Oleksyk will be key to distinguishing Pride golf tees and building up the sales division.
"Rick is very familiar with the green marketplace, a quick study and a Softspikes veteran, so it was natural to pick him," Mr. Burr said.
"He's already shown us some brand-development programs and point-of-purchase displays that will get our name out in the market."
Mr. Oleksyk lives in Germantown with his wife, Kim, and their two children.

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