A quarter of a century ago, while tinkering with an old two-wheel pull trolley, Thomas Reiter had an idea. A few hours later, with a third wheel fixed to the front of the trolley, the initial prototype for Europe’s first three-wheel push trolley had been created, and the first step in the evolution of Big Max, Europe’s #1 push trolley brand, and continental Europe’s #1 golf bag brand, had been taken.
“I had set up my company, Golftech, in 1988, while I was studying at the Vienna University of Economics and Business,” said Reiter. “We mainly imported US and UK products that were difficult to get in Europe and became quite successful. In 1994, we decided to make our own pull trolleys, as there was a clear gap in the European market. My son Max had just been born, so I named the company after him – Big Max.
“The initial models, Basic and Mid-Max sold well, but it was while I was playing around with an old two-wheel pull trolley that the business changed forever. I figured that it would be less stressful on the body to push the trolley, and that you could direct it more easily with it in front of you. So I fixed an extra wheel to the front of one of our competitors’ models and tried it out.”
The first Big Max three-wheel trolley – the BM 500 – went into production in 1997 and immediately changed the way that the Austrian and German market thought about push trolleys. But it was in the year 2000 that the brand became the dominant force in the market.
Reiter adds: “In 2000, we introduced the Ti 1000. I’ve always thought that there are really only two spaces in the golf market – the cheapest and the best – and everything we do at Big Max is focused on being the best. So we invested heavily in the Ti 1000, coming up with the straight-axle design that brought a huge amount of stability to the trolley and allowed it to fold to a compact size.
“The impact was immediate. The Ti1000 was a huge success. It gave us a platform to expand into the whole of Europe, and it really changed the way that European golfers thought about transporting their golf bags. Up to this day, I think it is still the best selling push trolley that Europe has ever seen.”
Innovation and heavy investment in R&D remain pivotal in the success of the company. That approach has seen Big Max lead the way with the first ultra-compact folding trolleys for both push and electric models (IQ and Nano), waterproof golf bags (Aqua line) and latterly, the unique, multi-award winning Fold Flat design of the Blade series. But with imitators around every corner, Reiter knows that there is only one way to stay successful.
“Our whole business model is based on being ahead of the pack. We often see products that have clearly been ‘inspired’ by our innovations – just look in any golf retailer to see the number of lookalikes of our IQ trolley. But when they get to market we’re already launching the second, improved, generation of the product and are already working on the third generation. We often have to resort to the courts to defend our intellectual property – in fact that is what inspired the name of our BLADE IP – but that is the price we have to pay for doing all we can to be the best and be the first to market.
“We’ve been the most owned push trolley brand in Europe for nearly 20 years, we’re continental Europe’s #1 golf bag brand and we have a presence in virtually every golf playing nation – 56 so far. But at their core, our products are designed to make golfer’s lives easier and help them have fun with their game. To know we’re doing that on such a huge scale makes me very proud.”
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