From the Fairway to the Runway

One family's view of the evolution of the golf cart

If you’ve spent any time heading North on I-45, you’ve probably seen the sign for Conroe Golf Cars. Founded in 1974 by Jim and Carolyn Sebastian, Conroe Golf Cars does a lot more than just sell carts.

According to President and Owner John Sebastian, (son of Jim and Carolyn), Conroe Golf Cars started out mostly selling “to golfers using golf carts on the golf course.” Currently, it is less than five percent of what they do. Back when John began at the business in 1991, the only choice you got was between three wheels and four wheels. A quick tour through their nine-acre property makes it obvious there is a lot more happening now.

Conroe Golf Cars have everything from simple carts for a cruise around the neighborhood to street-legal vehicles you can take to the store. They also have a large selection of carts targeted toward commercial operations. John’s favorite part of the job is the creativity required, and Conroe Golf Cars will work to build you a cart that aligns with your exact needs and budget.

You can pick from a wide selection of body styles, tires, colors, and seats or a custom paint job. John says if you want polka dots on your cart, you can have them. With the supply chain issues of 2020 past, impressively, the turnaround time on a custom cart is two to three days.

You might be surprised to learn that one of Conroe Golf Cars' biggest customers is United Airlines. The company provides the airlines with the carts you see on the tarmacs, terminals, and runways. When the airline first came to them to purchase carts, John said he was aware they would only get one shot. Conroe Golf Cars “blew their sock off” by more than exceeding expectations, and now they are the airline’s single source for carts. 

Conroe Golf Cars serve other industries as well. Many companies and organizations that operate within large complexes often use golf carts as convenient means of moving employees and visitors around. Chemical plants, universities, and mini-storages are common customers. Special event rentals constitute about twenty-five percent of sales. The biggest event Conroe Golf Cars does every year is the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo, where they provide about 850 carts for the occasion. They also rent for festivals and, of course, golf tournaments.

What’s the real juice behind Conroe Golf Cars' success? A passion for golf and fun. John’s middle name is Palmer, named after the famous American golfer Arnold Palmer, his fate from the beginning. Most of his 50 employees have been with the business for over 20 years, and many of the key players are John’s friends, with whom he used to play golf in high school. The fun atmosphere is emphasized by their “day at the golf course” uniform of shorts and a polo, and the teams strive to translate that fun into the experience of their customers.

Conroe Golf Cars stay in a continuous state of evolution as they adapt to meet changing customer needs and various industry demands. John says he sees many families giving up their second car in favor of street-legal golf carts, equipped with seatbelts, raised tires, radios, and a space in the back to haul items.

Some of these super golf carts can run as high as $40,000 in price and start to blur the lines between carts and cars. Why opt for such a pricey cart instead of just using a normal car? It's the fun factor! The carts make trips to the grocery store, driving around the neighborhood, and picnics more enjoyable. The carts are also convenient. Most run on the power of lithium batteries that typically last for 12 years and require no maintenance. 

Overall, John said, "Conroe Golf Cars operates like an overgrown mom-and-pop shop". Even though he has secured giant companies as customers, his enthusiasm is the same when he speaks of customizing a single cart to the perfect fit for a buyer with a budget.

It seems John’s real passion is making those his business serves happy- whether they are the smallest customer or the largest.

John Sebastian, owner, said, "I sees many families giving up their second car in favor of street-legal golf carts". 

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