Q & A with Aerotech President, Chris Hilleary, by Leonard Finkel
How did you end up in the golf business? What was your background?
I didn’t learn to play golf until I was 21 years old, but fell in love with the game right away. I met one of the founders of Aerotech Sports (ATS) during a golf tournament and went to work for them in January 1997. I have a degree in Manufacturing Engineering Technology and ATS employed several engineers that designed composite products for large manufacturers, mainly in the sporting goods industry. I ran their golf shaft division for nearly nine years and during that time, I designed the SteelFiber golf shaft. I believed in this product enough to leverage everything I owned to purchase the golf division from ATS in October 2005.
I’ve heard you referred to as the godfather of graphite iron shafts. Why do you think that is?
I think that’s very flattering, but it’s a stretch to say the least. Graphite shafts have been around for a long time and there have been many advances in composite shaft design over the years. The approach I took was to look at some of the reasons graphite iron shafts were not being embraced by better players. Then, I attempted to solve each performance issue using my composites background. Graphite iron shafts were originally too light and had very soft stiffness profiles for stronger players. Some manufacturers had designed some heavier, stiffer versions; but the wall thickness was too thick and caused a boardy feel. So, I began experimenting with combining higher density (heavier) materials and that ultimately led to adding micro-thin steel fiber to the surface of graphite. This completely new approach achieved the performance characteristics I wanted.
It appears that your shafts achieved the most plays and wins on all the Tours. Is that true and, if so, why?
I need to make one clear distinction--Aerotech’s SteelFiber shaft has more Pro Tour wins than any other graphite ‘iron’ shaft in history. Obviously, graphite wood shafts have a long, successful track record on Tour, but composite iron shafts are just now becoming more popular. The reason our SteelFiber iron shafts have more Tour wins than any other graphite iron shaft is because they perform like no other shaft. They have all the benefits of a graphite shaft yet still have the accuracy and consistency which are often associated with steel shafts. They are the ‘Holy Grail’ of iron shafts, so to speak.
What’s your secret to innovation?
I once heard an ‘Innovative Spirit’ described as someone that can imagine something that has never existed before. I like to think of us as Innovative Spirits here at Aerotech. I don’t think there’s any real secret to our innovation. We just look at things a bit differently than other shaft manufacturers.
What sets your products and design apart?
Our SteelFiber and TiFiber shaft designs are unlike anything that has ever been produced. The SteelFiber shaft has more than 59 miles of micro-thin steel fiber covering the surface of a high-modulus graphite core. While the new TiFIber driver shaft has more than 47 miles of titanium fiber on the shaft surface. The way we have seamlessly combined these materials to achieve specific performance enhancements is what sets our shafts apart.
With more than 35,000 custom hittable club head and shaft options, Club Champion can find the perfect Aerotech shaft for you. Experience the Club Champion difference! Call us at 888-340-782 or request an appointment online.