Expanding your DTC business to wholesale and into new product lines with Dan from Uther Supply (episode 321)

Dan Erdman is the Owner and Founder at Uther Supply, the industry leader in high fashion golf towels and balls. Founded in 2016 they now are doing over $1m a year.

eCMP 321 Landscape

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About Dan 

Dan had the idea to create a fashionable golf towel when he was working at a club house in what he describes as the ‘lowest level job in golf.’ He didn’t like that all the towels featured company logos and so set out to make something more fashionable.

Uther is Dan’s first job, but he didn’t jump into direct to consumer eCommerce right away. They initially worked tradeshows and B2B channels, but communicating directly with the consumer directly was too appealing to ignore and the element that drove Dan’s decision to add D2C  eCommerce.

While there is a lot of information to be gained from both channels, Dan says nothing beats talking directly to your customers. 

About the Business

  • Sells Direct to Consumer via Shopify and Amazon
  • Uses a good 3PL
  • Sales focused in USA and Canada (95%)
  • Sells Internationally

The Team

In addition to Dan the team is made up of an in house  CFO, a graphic designer, a sourcing expert focused on growing product lines and a new team member devoted to sales and marketing in the eCommerce space. 

Benefits and Challenges of Selling B2B and D2C

Working two sales channels is a lot of effort, but Dan says he really values the impact and feedback that he gets from both consumers and retailers.

His advice for people interested in engaging retailers  is to get the idea right and work on the brand to entice buyers to come to you. Buyers are always on the hunt for unique and interesting products — so making something well made and interesting takes care of a lot of the leg work.

If your product is unique, you’ll have a much better time getting in the door. Dan leveraged press early on and it paid off—he says that a lot of businesses found them via articles they had done. 

Selling in a Large Retailer

Dan was 22 when he got a call from Dick’s sporting Goods wanting to buy their towels to stock in the chain. He decided to go all in with the deal and focused on making it work.

He and his team try to focus on the piece that’s going to pay off, even if that means neglecting other things. Not trying to do too many things has been an important piece of the brands success.

Being in Dick’s has done a tremendous service for the brand and Dan says that laser focus and a slow build have worked for the business and it’s a philosophy Dan has applied to product launch as well.

Onboarding Golf Balls 

When Dan decided to bring golf balls on board to the brand, he knew he would have to be strategic. He knew that bringing on a more complex product would only work if it was done really well.

His strategy was simply to find the best talent in the industry and then be meticulous and rigorous in the final selection of the supplier. He and his team did a lot of research to ensure they were working with a legitimate, best in the business manufacturer.

Besides the details necessary to making the product, golf balls are consumables and so have an entirely different marketing and supply strategy. Golf balls have stronger repeat customers, but the barrier to entry is higher since most golfers have brand loyalty.

Dan says they are trying to penetrate the market as quickly as possible with a lot of focus on PCP advertising and sales. Overall it’s very difficult to convert a customer to a new golf ball, but once they move over they become loyal.

eCommerce Book Top Tip

eCommerce Traffic Top Tip

  • Press — Dan says press is great for creating legitimacy even before you are big. And it’s not expensive and pays off in spades.

Tool Top Tip

  • Asana — likes the automations, task setting and more

Growth Top Tip

  • Focus on PPC and make sure you have a good agency or team member with experience in that field. 

Interview Links

Related episodes

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  • Content Marketing: Outreach and Digital PR tips with Spark Toro’s Rand Fishkin
  • Licensing, managing B2B resellers, product creation, and the power of outsourcing with Craig Wolfe of Celebriducks

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