Cameron Lee sees a lot of parallels between golf and life: You have to make good decisions, evaluate risk versus reward, be smart and be honest. These are also the principles Lee uses to run his business, C3 Custom Golf.
Lee has been an avid golfer from a young age. He learned to play as a child from his grandfather and competed on the University of North Carolina Wilmington’s golf team.
But Lee never intended to make golf his career. Instead, he earned a bachelor’s degree in finance and a master’s degree in accounting. After graduating, Lee worked for two global business advisory/CPA firms, Grant Thornton and RSM, then taught finance and accounting at UNCW and Cape Fear Community College. He continues to teach at CFCC today.
However, in 2018, Lee’s son was born, and that event took him in an unexpected direction. While spending more time at home with his child, Lee started tinkering with club maintenance and repair in his garage. From that garage, C3 Custom Golf came into existence.
“I fell in love with the process of taking an old club and restoring it to a like-new condition,” Lee said. “I loved having that creative outlet and having grown people come to the shop, pick up their club and act like a kid at Christmas.”
It wasn’t long before Lee decided to expand the business. He started selling golf accessories and bought an engraving machine. What could have been a long shot turned out to be a hole-in-one. With the engraving machine, Lee tapped into the current customization craze that is affecting everyone from motorcyclists to golf enthusiasts. In the process he also created a new niche in the golf world.
“The engraving machine was a big investment, and I thought of other ways to apply it to the industry,” he said. “It created some momentum.”
Soon Lee was customizing golf clubs and accessories for customers of all types, from players on their annual golf outings to golfers who wanted their logo engraved on their clubs to engraving clubs and accessories for tournaments and facilities.
The customization facet of the business was so popular that Lee decided to take his services on the road. He bought and outfitted a trailer that he brings to golf courses and tournaments. With his Mobile Workshop, Lee engraves golfers’ clubs and accessories on-site, and the traveling shop is a hit with golf and country clubs that want to offer something different to their members.
Expanding C3 Custom Golf’s business has required intensive outreach and a change in marketing strategy. Now, instead of targeting individual golfers, Lee markets to businesses and golf shops.
“Getting the word out has been a challenge,” he said. “Switching speed on what we offer is a challenge. I have to be patient and realize new business will not happen all at once.”
To meet that challenge, Lee hired sales representatives who are contacting golf shops and facilities in the Carolinas, Virginia and Georgia. Through their work, Lee has provided customized golf accessories for such as the PGA Tour and USGA events.
Lee has also worked with golf professionals in Wilmington, some of whom have known him since his college golfing days. They have helped spread the word too.
“I started working with some really nice, high-end facilities, and that started a snowball effect,” he said.
Lee’s follow-through has also played a role in C3 Custom Golf’s success. He is committed to providing quality service and has gained a reputation for doing so.
“I really try to make sure I go above and beyond the expectations customers have,” he said. “I try to make sure customers feel good about the value they receive.”
Currently, 80% of C3 Custom Golf’s business stems from commercial golf enterprises, and that’s where the future lies for the business, according to Lee. Eventually, he hopes to provide customized golf services in every state.
Though C3 Custom Golf began as a simple pastime, it has become Lee’s passion as well as an homage to the grandfather who taught him all about the game.
“Golf is more than a sport to me,” he said. “It’s ingrained in my DNA. I wish my grandfather could see what I’m doing now.”
C3 Custom Golf
14679 US Hwy. 17, Hampstead
No. of employees:
Top local official:
Cameron Lee, founder
C3 Custom Golf began in a garage in 2018 customizing and restoring golf clubs. Now, the company’s brick-and-mortar offers a range of golf accessories, which it has provided for PGA Tour and USGA events.
Products made locally:
Golf club customization, golf accessory custom fabrication and branding as well as customer/client/employee gifts both in a retail and wholesale capacity
The products are made in C3’s Hampstead shop and sold throughout the Carolinas, U.S., Europe and Australia.
What made the company decide to make its goods locally?
Lee: “Wilmington is home. I moved here in 1998 to attend UNCW and compete on the men’s golf team. Through that experience I met many great people in our local golf industry.”
What’s your target market?
Lee: “Our primary target markets are golf clubs that want golf accessories with their branding. Additionally, we have many options that aren’t golf specific that can serve as customer, employee, and client gifts. Also, we target individual golfers that would like to customize their clubs and add personal touches.”
EDITOR’S NOTE: To be considered for the Greater Wilmington Business Journal’s MADE feature, contact [email protected].