STRODES MILLS - The name of the business may be Jake's Golf Carts, but the drive for quality and uniqueness that catapulted the business to the top of the industry - and made it worthy of television coverage - was all thanks to Steve.
The business Steve Stimely started will be featured at 6 a.m. Monday and again on June 16 on the informational television show "World's Greatest." The show, produced by How 2 Media in Delray Beach, Fla., features unique companies, products, people and travel destinations.
"The reason we were on the show and we're still here is because my dad designed a quality lift kit," said Amy Franklin, who is Stimely's daughter and owns Jake's Golf Carts along with her husband Glen.
It all started with a customer who took his Yamaha golf cart to Florida. Most of the carts in that region have raised suspensions because the carts are air cooled and lifting them puts space between the engine and the hot sand. The way the Yamaha golf cart in question was designed, putting a lift kit on it would be nearly impossible.
But this particular golf cart owner had faith in Stimely.
The result was a high-quality lift kit that ended up being factory-certified by Yamaha and later was used by the other two major golf cart manufacturers, EZ-Go and Club Car. Yamaha executives offered to move Stimely and his family to Georgia if he would take the lead on lift kits in-house for the company, but he declined.
Stimely's business - then called Jake's Carts - took off.
"Every other week we were having dinner to celebrate something," Amy said. That was around 2005, and by 2009 they were shipping about 13,000 lift kits worldwide every year.
In 2009, Stimely sold the manufacturing portion of the business to Nivel Parts and Manufacturing Co. His design continues to be sold in a division of Nivel's called Jake's Lift Kits. Stimely and Glen both work for that division.
Jake's Golf Carts in Strodes Mills now deals primarily in sales, rentals, service and parts - including the lift kits, even though they are now manufactured elsewhere.
When the business was selected as one of 80 companies to be interviewed for "World's Greatest," Amy wasn't shocked.
"We had been approached by other TV shows before," she said. "It wasn't something totally unique for us. ... Actually being selected, though, that was a surprise."
The 80 businesses were split up and interviewed by four of How 2 Media's associate producers. Pamela Widdows, the associate producer who interviewed Amy and Glen, seemed intrigued by what they do at Jake's Golf Carts. The scheduled one-hour interview took two hours. Each associate producer then presented his or her top choice from the group interviewed to a board responsible for approving the companies for production. Widdows chose Jake's Golf Carts.
Filming day arrived on April 9. The show is scripted in that the video shot and the talking points are established beforehand, but responses from the business owners are not written out word for word.
"We did all the talking and answering questions," Amy said, admitting she was nervous.
"That's one word for it," she said. "It was a unique experience. You don't have many opportunities to have that done."
Jake's Golf Carts LLC will be featured on episode 200 of "World's Greatest." Visit www.worldsgreatesttv.com and click on "Television Schedule" for more information on viewing the episode. Past episodes are also available on the website.