MDNA members are known to be a tight-knit bunch, and that bond is only strengthened through activities like golf. Whether it’s a chapter golf outing or playing a quick nine holes that results in a deal, the sport has a way of bringing people together.
We spoke with five MDNA members around the country about their journeys to the sport and what it means to their personal and professional identities.
Troy Clark, Clark Machinery Sales
Troy Clark, of Maryland-based Clark Machinery Sales, is a bit of an outlier in that he didn’t grow up golfing. In fact, he had never been on a golf course until he married into a family of golfers. His wife’s family were huge fans, so Troy went along for the ride. Much to his surprise, his first golf experience was not as a player but as a fan.
“The first golf course I ever walked set foot on literally was Augusta National,” he said. “At that point, I had never played, but I attended the Masters Tournament twice. But it's really true what people say: you can always pick up the game.”
He did and learning the basics has served him well. He started playing more due to MDNA business, such as conventions and board meetings. Though he says he’s not one to always mix the game with business deals, it has provided fodder for networking.
“It has been a great time to get out there with other dealers in the end,” he said. “It's a great chance to tell stories and share your positive experience while getting to know people. And it's always something you can always relate back to.”
John Conroy, Machine International
John Conroy has been part of the MDNA family since joining in 1981, and to him golf has always played a large role in the organization.
"I've served on the Board of Directors continuously since 1985, on the Executive Committee since 1995 and as President of the MDNA from 1993 to 1995. During this time, we have always had a sizable contingent of golfers, both regular members and Board members."
MDNA has four Board of Directors meetings every year including two at the Annual Convention. According to John the sport brings people together in ways that regular meetings or social events can't. In his words "It's one thing to hash out and discuss new policies and programs for the MDNA in a meeting room environment, but when you play golf together you become friends, you work better together and you accomplish a lot more in a friendly and cooperative environment. "
And there is also the aspect of breaking down barriers. Every convention brings new members, including many from our European Chapter, who are anxious to meet new friends. Breaking into established social circles is not always easy, but golf is the ultimate ice-breaker.
"At the end of a round of golf, that new member has three brand new friends who they can socialize with and do business with. I suspect that will continue at the golf tournament at our next convention at the J.W. Marriott Starr Pass Resort next April in Tucson."
Mark Coxon, Machine Tool Emporium
Mark Coxon of Louisville-based Machine Tool Emporium loves the sport so much he wants to start an MDNA member golf league.
“The idea is that if you travel to the city or state for business, you could look other members up and play,” he said.
It’s no surprise that he has this idea, given his own love affair with the sport. Mark started playing around age 8. Though he took a few breaks at various points in his life, it’s something he likes to pick back up when he can.
Mark said other members feel similarly, which is why he said events like the MDNA Detroit-Toledo chapter golf outing have been so successful.
“They have it every year there,” he said. “I think this year there was like 80 or 85 golfers and people coming in all over the country. It's a pretty good turnout. A lot of people like to play golf and it gives them four hours — without cell phones and work — to play, hang out, talk business and get to know somebody a lot more intimately than you would at say, a baseball game, that might last an hour or two.”
Nick Gibbs, Gibbs Machinery Co.
At 31, Nick Gibbs may be one of the younger MDNA members. However, that’s worked to his advantage, as his youthful energy has served him well in his business career and outside of work.
Nick grew up in the family business in Michigan and appreciates the “interesting” opportunities the work has afforded over the years. And more recently as the chairman of the Detroit/Toledo MDNA chapter and golf outing, he gets to flex his networking muscles. The 2022 event took place on August 15 at The Orchards Golf Club in Washington, Michigan and it was a resounding success.
“We had 85 people come this year representing 44 different companies,” he said. “We had 34 sponsorships. And it's something that we've done for a long, long time in Detroit/Toledo as an MDNA group. It’s a really great way to just kind of have a nontraditional meeting. Everybody meets up on a Monday and goes out and catches up with a lot of people from really all over the country.”
According to Nick, they had golfers come from as far away as Chicago and Kentucky, representing all segments of the industry. In his words, “We had appraisers. We had auctioneers. We had machinery dealers and finance groups. It’s a really good batch of industry people who showed up.”
Mike Clark, The Book
Mike Clark is the owner and publisher of The Book which produces pricing guides for used machinery and equipment. An industry veteran, he’s been acquainted with players in the used machinery niche since the mid-70s. However, his golfing career precedes his professional one.
“I started caddying when I was 12 years old,” he said. “I hitchhiked 15 miles out to the golf course in the morning and I started playing a couple years later. Over the years, I must have bought 10 or 12 different sets of golf clubs. I play a lot of golf.”
Mike appreciates the serenity of the sport and the bonds it fosters. He attended the Detroit/Toledo MDNA chapter golf outing and said it was a memorable experience.
“We didn't know each other prior, but we had a good time,” he said. “Everybody had good shots. Everybody had bad shots. You’re never perfect.”
MDNA: Friendships on and off the Course
Golf, by its nature, is a social sport and helps people relax, get exercise and even sometimes lays the foundation for doing business. You can’t beat that combination!
We recognize that across the MDNA, our members share many hobbies and interests. We want to tell your story, too! If you have ideas for this blog, please drop a note to Mark Robinson, firstname.lastname@example.org, or call 703.836.9300.