Shoemaker True Linkswear takes the next step

With an $11.25 million investment from KarpReilly, the Pacific Northwest-based company looks to increase its presence in the marketplace

True Linkswear_KR
The True Linkswear shoe brand was co-founded by Jason and Ryan Moore in 2009.

A year ago, brothers Jason and Ryan Moore came to a realization about True Linkswear, a company they have owned outright since 2017. Taking the lifestyle-focused golf shoe brand to the next level would necessitate an infusion of capital.

On Wednesday, True Linkswear announced that KarpReilly, a private equity firm in Greenwich, Conn., would be taking a minority stake for $11.25 million.

KarpReilly is involved with many small businesses, including Linksoul, a lifestyle brand started by John Ashworth; Mack Weldon, a men’s basic’s apparel company; and Spindrift, a line of sparkling beverages made with real squeezed fruit.

“We’ve always seen the writing on the wall,” said Jason Moore of accepting the first-ever investment in the company. “But we’ve been growing at a tremendous pace, double year-over-year and we just knew the time would come to seek outside capital to continue to expand that growth.”

In 2009, the Moores were among the co-founders of the Tacoma, Wash.-based brand. Despite a multiyear stretch of sales and inventory issues, the company was profitable through the years. In 2017, the brothers banded together and took complete ownership of the company.

“We saw so much potential in the company, come 2017 we’d figure out a way to start the company afresh and take a new business angle with it and run the company ourselves,” said Jason Moore who serves as president and CEO. “What you think of True today is really from our ideas from 2017 onward.”

That included selling direct to consumers online. What little retail presence the brand had was as destinations such as Pebble Beach, Streamsong, Chambers Bay and St. Andrews.

In placing True Linkswear on an open market, the Moores talked to a number of potential suitors, from venture capitalists to private equity firms, in an attempt to find a partner that shares views and values of the company’s future.

“The opportunity in the golf space, admiration for what our brand and product stand for and the same type of intrinsic values that we saw to help grow smaller niche brands into larger scale companies,” Jason Moore said.

If the name Ryan Moore sounds familiar, then it’s because he is a five-time PGA Tour winner, including the 2012 the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open in Las Vegas. Jason Moore served as his caddie for the better part of four years from 2010-2013, then tired of the traveling and decided to move back to the Pacific Northwest.

With a significant amount of capital in place, Jason Moore says the hope is to continue what the company has been doing, but on a grander scale. There is no intention of creating a different brand or a different product, but will instead push for greater innovation.

Jason Moore says the direct-to-consumer model has included a heavy focus on customer service. No matter how good the service is, though, only so many shoes can be sold online.

“We realize at the end of the day that 16 percent of golf shoes are sold online,” Jason Moore said. “People want to see these shoes in person, they want to see them in pro shops, they want to see them in big box retail. In order to do that we knew an investment would be necessary to scale our business through those new sales channels.”