Pat Jones Interviews Spray Caddie
Golf Course Industry Expert Pat Jones sat down with Golf Course Superintendent Rob Roberts and his wife, Stacie. to discuss Spray Caddie Golf Cup Cover, a golf course maintenance tool used to shield the cup from chemicals, fertilizers, PGRs, colorant, or any liquid spray application.
Pat Jones: Hey everybody, it’s Pat Jones. You know, I have talked a lot about how cool it is when got course superintendents market their own product ideas. And it’s not unusual. There are lots of great ideas out there, but what’s rare is when one goes from idea to reality and becomes a real product. And we’ve seen some great examples of that over time. And I found yet another one that I thought I wanted to share with you and give a chance for my friends, Rob and Stacie Roberts to talk about Spray Caddie. Rob, Stacie, How are you?
Rob Roberts: Doing well. Thanks, Pat.
Stacie Roberts: Great. Great to see you, Pat.
Pat Jones: Nice to be seen. Let’s cut right to the chase, Rob. What is Spray Caddie, and what is it intended to do for your fellow superintendents?
Rob Roberts: Well, it’s a golf cup cover intended to keep your spray apps out of the cup, keep your cups clean, and it’s a touchless, hands-free system that you don’t have to touch anything and get it all over your equipment, yourself, your cell phones, which now that’s big, texting and even watering things in. And it’s just a clean, easy, efficient way to do your spray apps and cover the cups.
Pat Jones: How did the idea come to you? I mean, I know that this is just one of those frustrating things you deal with every single day. How did you go about this coming up with this particular iteration of how you solve this problem?
Rob Roberts: Just over years, it was just constantly bugging me, trying to figure out how you can grab something without touching it, pick it up and keep yourself clean. And eventually, like the garbage pickers kind of idea didn’t work. And then one day I was playing with magnets and just went, aha! Magnets. This is easy. No brainer. It works great.
Pat Jones: So you built a prototype, and you played with it. What? What was that process like? And sort of making out figuring that out?
Rob Roberts: Just testing some different materials, trying to make the cover, and some would break, eventually couldn’t quite get tabs to stay on them. People liked the idea, but I couldn’t come up with the right material to make it last. And when I finally decided that people should have this, I got serious about it. Covid kind of set me into playing with it some more, and I sourced the materials I liked, and came up with the right weight material, plastic and metal, to work great with a magnetic wand.
Pat Jones: Amazing. I know that the product is still pretty new. What have you heard from people who tried it so far?
Rob Roberts: So far they’re liking it. We haven’t had a ton of feedback. We’re so young into it. But my crew loves it. They don’t know what to do without it. And I just got a new boss recently, and he came in and was just amazed with it, and goes, Man, you know, you need to sell this. And I go, well, as a matter of fact, I’m working. Keep it quiet for now.
Pat Jones: But that’s interesting, too, because that’s probably the big difference between all of the turfheads out there who’ve had great ideas and where you guys are at. You’ve managed to commercialize this. How did that process take place? Because I imagine it wasn’t as easy as you. You thought it might be going into it?
Rob Roberts: Oh no. It’s a great idea, but without my wife who does marketing, she’s in the golf industry. It wouldn’t have been possible. To me, it’s extremely tough, but thankfully, I had that ability to have her take it the rest of the way. The idea was great. The product’s good. But to get it out to the world, it’s a huge thing.
Pat Jones: Spoiler alert, Stacie and I have known each other for a long time, and I’ve known Rob quite a while, too. But Stacie and I go way back. When you got dragged into this, what did you think, another crazy idea? Or did you see the value in this and understand right away what it could do?
Stacie Roberts: Well, that’s interesting because he’s been talking about this probably for about five years. And I kept saying, when you’re ready, let me know. And in the last year, he went from kind of noodling with it to really being very, very serious about it and sourcing the materials. And when he said to me, I’m ready, II said, OK, let’s go. And you know, I’ve been in the golf industry probably close to 30 years now and marketing products for some really wonderful clients. And I felt like this was almost the culmination of my career, everything that I’ve learned and all the work that I’ve done to help other golf industry clients be successful. I now felt like I could use all that experience to help my husband succeed with a really cool idea. So when he was ready, I said, let’s go.
Pat Jones: So are you saying the writing for me wasn’t the high point of your career?
Stacie Roberts: (laughs) It’s so interesting when you look back on your life and all the things that you do in your career, and everything builds on itself, just like building blocks. And you get to the point where you’re like, well, I understand now why I went through and did all the things that I did. It’s really a great feeling and I get to help him, and he’s so smart. So it’s a good team. I feel like it’s a really good team.
Pat Jones: It seems like, you know I hate to say this, complete each other, but that does seem to be the case. So, Rob, when you move forward now, are you going to be able to go out and be the trade show person and do all that kind of stuff? Or how do the two of you plan to come to market with this and make it available to people?
Rob Roberts: Well, we are going to be at the trade show, the GCSAA Golf Industry Show. That’s going to be huge. It’ll be fun to have people be able to play with it, touch it, really get the idea of what it can do for them. And that’s exciting. And you know, I’m not really a guy that likes to get myself out there and, you know, be the face of something, but it’s going to have to be done. Stacie will be there with me, so we’ll be able to get it out there in people’s hands.
Stacie Roberts: And we have to really shout out to one of my clients, Tahoma 31 Bermudagrass. They have a booth at the show, and Chad Adcock is the VP of Business Development there, and he is also a former superintendent. So when we first shot the video, I sent the video to him, and he said, Oh, you’re going to sell a ton of these. And that was so encouraging. And when he asked me to come work the Tahoma 31 booth, he offered to give us space for Spray Caddie in the Tahoma 31 booth. So that’s where we’ll be. And like I said again, just all of the life experience seems to just coalesce to make this happen. And I’m really, really grateful to Chad, and Tahoma 31, and just the industry overall has been so supportive. People have been calling us and emailing us and you, especially Pat, thank you, just to help is … We’re just so grateful.
Pat Jones: Just trying to put some of my time where my mouth is. But I really do think that this is one thing we all should support is superintendents taking some risks and doing some things that are outside of your comfort zone. Pretty Clearly, you’re not exactly tthe guy who wants to be out there thumping his own drum all the time. I’ve known you for a long time and I know that. But it challenges you to do something different. And I think that you expand your horizons when you do that. So what do you really want people to know moving forward about being a couple that brings a product to market in this business? And that’s not unusual. Again, almost every successful superintendent entrepreneur I know, it’s been a family affair. So if there are other turfheads out there sitting there watching this right now, what should they know about how to collaborate as a couple to bring a product to market in the golf business?
Stacie Roberts:I think play to your strengths. Rob is incredibly creative and he’s tenacious. He stuck with this until he was able to get it right. It’s almost like, stay in your lane. Do what you’re good at, and let your spouse do what they’re good at, and then discuss in between. Don’t you think?
Rob Roberts: I do. She talks, and I nod. (Everyone laughs.)
Pat Jones: The one thing I know is you both is you like to have fun. So I guess the final question is what’s really fun about this, this whole process and the product itself? What’s been fun?
Rob Roberts: It’s just, the creativity of it bouncing ideas off each other. I have an idea and she can take that and twist it. It just keeps growing off itself and each other. It’s really fun.
Stacie Roberts: And one thing we didn’t mention that is is kind of fun is Rob and I met at the Golf Industry Show, the GCSAA Show, 12 years ago in San Diego. And so now, 12 years later, the story continues, and we get to do this together at the show and celebrate our 12th anniversary of the day that we met. So yeah, that’s fun about it, that that golf has been a throughline through our entire marriage.
Pat Jones: Well, I can’t wait to see both of you in San Diego to congratulate you on your 12th anniversary of your first date. First meeting in person. But I also want to congratulate you on making it this far because very, very, very few superintendents do it and it’s a tremendous success. And I know the product’s going to be successful. It makes so much sense, and it’s a relatively inexpensive solution for a real problem. For the thousands of superintendents that are watching this right now going, I want these, where can they go with their credit cards? I bet they’re gonna. What’s your website and what can they do?
Stacie Roberts: SprayCaddie.com. All sales are handled through there, or you can find us on Twitter, or Instagram, or Facebook, and the link will be there as well. @SprayCaddie
Pat Jones: I’m glad we got to connect about this, and I hope people will take a look at this product, not just because it’s a cool thing that’s going to help them solve a problem but because it’s a product of love. And thank you guys, and we will see you soon.