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You gotta get a grip

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By Jason Perry

Most golfers realize that it can take a lot of work and money to keep their equipment in good shape so they can stay on top of the game.

That is where Rex Renfro and T-Rex Regripping comes in.

Renfro operates his business from out of his house in Midtown and offers numerous services to the golfers of Roane County and the surrounding areas.

He’s been working on golf clubs and equipment for most all of his life.

“I started out doing this for myself in my early teens,” Renfro said. “A bunch of us got to going over to Chuck Henley, the guy that owns the driving range, and took us under his wing.

“He was awfully good about showing us the craft and letting us do things.

“So I got started there, really.”

Renfro furthered his knowledge later when he went to the Golfworks in Columbus, Ohio, but found he had already learned everything the school could teach him.

“I went up there for a week to learn,” he said. “Chuck had already taught me everything they did.

“So I was pretty much ahead of the curve.”

Renfro saw there was a need for a business in Roane County that helped the golfers. Most have to drive to Knoxville or other areas in order to get repairs on their golfing equipment.

He thought it would be more convenient to go to Midtown.

“I got started doing it now by working on my own,” Renfro said. “The wife wanted to start a business and that’s how we got into this now.”

T-Rex Regripping came to fruition five years ago.

“We got the idea to do this about four or five years ago,” he said. “Chuck got some health problems and quit doing this at his driving range.

“I thought it would be a good idea for someone in Roane County could do it and save people from going to Knoxville or wherever they were going to get club repairs done.”

Renfro is quick to give credit where credit is due.

“Actually the business is my wife, Terry’s,” he said. “I’m just the front man and the labor.”

In addition to the repairs, Renfro offers a pick-up service as well.

“I don’t think anyone else offers a pick-up and delivery service,” he said. “You can drop off at any of the golf courses in Roane County or we’ll come to your house.

That is Renfro’s goal. He wants to offer a cheaper and more convenient alternative to the golfers in the area.

“We want to make it convenient and keep people from spending as much money,” he said.

It might seem odd to some that Renfro operates his business from out of his residence.

“It’s hard when you can’t find a place of business and have to work out of your garage,” he said.

Property and rent being as high as it is, Renfro hasn’t moved to obtain a storefront.

“Our long term goals are same as anyone else,” Renfro said. “I’d like to have a store where we can carry clothes and clubs.

“But just like the old saying goes, ‘You have to crawl before you walk and walk before you can run.”

The reason being is that he says in order to keep his prices reasonable, it is better to stay at home.

In addition to repairing clubs and the grips, Renfro’s business also offers merchandise.

“Before people go out to get new clubs, they should give us a look,” he said. “We have access to different sites that we might be able to find a deal on a set of new or used clubs they might not be able to find anywhere else.”

The majority of these clubs would be those available for professional tournaments. Renfro said that these clubs would come in handy for really good golfers as compared to the normal clubs in stores.

In order to get T-Rex out in the community and raise awareness of the brand Renfro and his wife stays active in the area.

“We’ve been trying to raise awareness by sponsoring golf tournaments,” he said. “We’ve helped to sponsor the St. Jude Tournament and the Juvenile Diabetes Tournament as well the Pastors Tournament.

“We have tried to get our name out that way, but we still haven’t reached a lot of people.”

Right now, the biggest problem Renfro is facing is just education of his customers and realizing what he offers and does.

“People think the big box stores like Edward Watts and Dick’s offers something I don’t,” he said. “But they really don’t.

“Before the year is out, I hope to go back to Golfworks and learn how to fit. I already know how to do it, but I don’t have the piece of paper people want to see.”

Brands and association with them are problems for Renfro and his fledgeling business.

“People go into these stores and see PGA, they think they’re certified,” he said. “People who work on clubs can join the PGA but that doesn’t necessarily mean everthing.”

That Renfro is passionate about golf, helping people, and his business is evident in just a few moments with the man.

“I was always brought up that if you do something and put your name on it, it mattered.” he said. “I try to treat people’s stuff like it’s mine and I try to do the job like I would want someone to do for me.”

It’s worked out well for Renfro in building relationships with his customers.

“It seems that when we get customers, they like us an awful lot,” he said. “Sometimes these customers become friends.”

Also with the changes in technology, it stands to reason golf clubs will change.

Renfro realizes it is important to stay abreast of these changes.

He also offers cleat repair and in time for the coming spring weather, T-Rex also regrips baseball bats.

Being part of the Roane County community, Renfro also tries to help out the high school golf teams with his servies by offering discounts.

As far as services go, Renfro said he is willing to go within a reasonable distance all the way to Morgan County to Meigs.

Renfro attests all of his interest life long love of golf and repairs to Henley.

“Chuck is the one who got me into this,” he said. “He worked with me and taught me when alot of people wouldn’t fool with a kid.

“He was such big help to a lot of the kids.”