In April, Global Kenda CEO Jimmy Yang said Kenda dominates 80% of the golf cart tire industry during a tour of Kenda’s US Technical Center, where he also announced the launch of the new customer-exclusive golf cart tire.
Johnson, however, says the scope of the business is far greater.
On the OEM front for golf course fleets, he estimated that Kenda dominates closer to 95-98%, with similar numbers for the personal transportation market.
As the golf cart industry has grown over the past two years since the COVID-19 pandemic began, Johnson said he hasn’t seen other top tire makers who don’t. weren’t already in the golf industry trying to break in.
“That’s not enough volume for their space,” he said, noting that major tire makers are more focused on the automotive industry and the transition to an era of electric vehicles.
Other big golf cart tire makers, he added, like Carlisle, Duro and Innova, typically focus more on aftermarket replacement tires and are much smaller companies than Kenda.
But there is no room for complacency, he added, noting that while Kenda can “manage” in the industry, there is always room for competition, and the progress of these competitors do not go unnoticed.
“When you’re on top, you’re the most to die for,” he said.
To stay ahead of the market, Kenda is looking for ways to innovate and grow.
And one way Kenda has done that, Johnson said, is addressing the “wow” factor of a custom golf cart that enhances the tire of the ride as opposed to the body.
“What makes a customer ‘wow’ when they see (their cart) is also the rim or wheel the tire is mounted on,” he said, noting that Kenda has expanded its aluminum and custom wheel design offers.
“We don’t just sell them a tire per se. … We’ve developed a very broad offering of custom, bling-bling aluminum wheels,” he said with a smile.
So golf carts as personal transportation vehicles might not be all about the bling, but if Kenda can help it, the bling is definitely still there.