By Sandra Zunino
When does a born entrepreneur retire? Possibly never. At least that is the case with Dale A. Darden Sr. of Kent Island Golf Carts. Dale has owned several businesses throughout his career including Darden’s VW & Foreign Cars, Darden’s Towing and Eve’s Country Ribs restaurant, among others.
When he decided to retire and immersed himself in a project refurbishing an old golf cart, he had no idea he was about to be in business once more. “The way it started is, my next door neighbor got a golf cart,” Dale explains, “so I decided to get one.”
Utilizing a lifetime of experience working on automobiles, Dale purchased a “junker” and started rebuilding it. “I liked it so much,” he says, “the next thing I knew, I had a full-time business.”
Essentially, Dale takes an older golf cart, strips it down, rebuilds it from the ground up installing all new wiring and battery cables, safety and custom features, and completes the project with a custom paint job. Once finished, the result is a brand new, unique golf cart that is customized to the client’s specifications. He even provides a warranty.
Golf cart accessories run the gamut from heaters, ceiling fans, covers and even CD players. A variety of wheels and tires are also available providing aesthetics as well as versatility. “There’s almost nothing you cannot do to a golf cart that you can’t do to a car,” according to Dale.
Once the golf carts are complete, they travel at higher speeds than the typical 8-12 mph. “I have one that goes 29 mph on electric,” says Dale. Dale insists on including many safety features such as lights and side mirrors. “I don’t want to see anybody get hurt,” he says.
Ironically, Dale’s customers don’t purchase the golf carts for use on golf courses. His typical clients are families who use the carts for getting around campgrounds or negotiating around their properties. Not only quiet, with the ever-growing need for “green” methods of transportation, electric-powered golf carts are gaining popularity. Additionally, golf carts are designed for comfortably transporting people and equipment. Installing tires with an aggressive tread enables a golf cart to travel through rougher terrain making them convenient for hunters.
Dale completes all the work on the golf carts himself in his private 50’ by 90’ garage, outfitted with all the necessary equipment. Because golf carts run on powerful direct current (DC) opposed to alternating current (AC), it can be hazardous to work on them. Dale advises only experienced persons work on golf carts to avoid serious injury.
Much of Dale’s client base resulted through word-of-mouth referrals. As news rapidly spread, he obtained more contracts, keeping him busy full time. “With the economy the way it is, I’m kind of surprised,” he says.
While his latest business venture came about by accident, Dale says the key to success in any business is to recognize a public need, then go about fulfilling that need. As for rebuilding golf carts, he says he’s having a lot of fun.
In addition to rebuilding golf carts, Dale also repairs golf carts and provides pick-up and delivery service. For more information about Kent Island Golf Carts, call 443-298-0284.