John Karsten Solheim, the oldest son of John A. Solheim and the grandson of PING Founder Karsten Solheim, has been named president of PING, effective January 1, 2017. He succeeds Doug Hawken as president, who is retiring after a distinguished 45-year career with the company that saw him rise from assistant to the production manager to president and chief operating officer, a position he’s held since 1999.
“It fills me with great pride to name my oldest son, John K., to the role of president of our family-owned company,” said John A. Solheim, PING Chairman and CEO, who officially announced the promotion at a gathering of the company’s employees. “He’s been preparing for this role for the last several years and he’s ready to take the next step. Together with the other third- generation family members and our strong teams throughout the organisation, I’m confident John K. will continue to advance our primary goal of engineering innovative, performance-based products of the highest quality while providing unmatched levels of service.”
‘John K’, as he is known within the company, served as an executive vice president for the last two years after a four-year assignment as president of PING Golf Japan, where he led a successful effort to re-position the PING brand throughout Japan and Asia. Prior to his time in Japan, he oversaw PING’s new product development efforts as vice president of engineering. As a high-school student he worked summers in the engineering department, including one shadowing his grandfather, an experience that gave him an education unlike any other as he observed and absorbed Karsten’s passion for the brand he created in his garage in 1959. John K. graduated Summa Cum Laude from Arizona State University (ASU) in 1996 with a degree in mechanical engineering. In 2001, he earned an Executive MBA degree from ASU.
“I am grateful for this opportunity,” said John K., 42, who is married and the father of four. “I have aspired to this for most of my career. Such responsibility is something I don’t believe you can ever be completely ready for, but I am certainly prepared. We all know a lot has changed since my grandfather entered the golf industry more than five decades ago. But what hasn’t changed is the foundation Karsten built here at PING. We are committed to making the best golf products in the world to help golfers play better and enjoy the game more. I look forward to working even more closely with my dad and the rest of the third-generation family members as we focus on continuing to grow PING’s reputation as an industry leader. We’ve built tremendous teams across all disciplines within the company, which has put us in a position of strength in a challenging industry.”
In his new role, John K. will oversee the day-to-day activities of the company, including all functions related to product development, supply chain management, production and sales/marketing. In addition to his father, his brothers Andy (Executive Vice President) and David (Vice President) and his cousin Stacey (Solheim) Pauwels (Executive Vice President) comprise the Solheim family executive leadership team.
The company also announced that current Chief Financial Officer (CFO) Mike Trueblood has been promoted to Executive Vice President Operations/CFO. He will assume additional responsibilities related to the company’s day-to-day operations.