When Jill Misner had her husband put a box on the back of a golf cart for use around their property, she really didn’t think much of it. That is, until a passerby asked to buy it. Jill’s brother-in-law Toby found another cart and not long after mounting another box made from lumber, this cart also sold. A business was born.
Twelve years later, Misner’s company, B & B Golf Carts, sells an average of one souped-up, modified or hot rod cart a day and keeps several family members busy, modifying and delivering golf carts for a number of non-course uses.
“Golfers are not our main customers,” explains Bill Misner, Jill’s father-in-law, who moved from Hoopeston after retirement to work in the family business, which is located just off of U.S. 51 in Makanda.
He explained that the company’s carts are especially popular in smaller communities where ordinances allow golf carts on city streets.
“We put the street legal light kit on them, add backseats, paint them and put fancy wheels and tires on them.”
Misner says the company works with both gasoline and electric-powered carts. The electric ones are more popular, he says.
The largest market for the custom carts, however, is people who enjoy camping.
“At the campgrounds, everybody’s got a golf cart,” Bill says. “If you neighbor in the space has one, you feel like you have to get one, too.”
He says the carts are a sort of RV themselves and also serve as sort of a status symbol.
“That’s why they get them decked out,” he says.
Bill says practically all of the carts are used, having completed a term of service at private golf courses. Following the course’s lease, a third party company sells them to B & B, where they are stripped down to the chassis and completely rebuilt.
A basic refurbished cart runs about $2,000. Bill says those with lift kits, lights, custom upholstery and radios can run $7,000 or more.
“It just depends on what you want to do and what you want to put on them,” Bill says, adding that many farmers are buying the carts and using them for chores instead of all-terrain vehicles. He says B & B once set up a display in the vendor area of a farm equipment show, just to build awareness of their carts. “They boys kept coming back to get more carts. We had a really good run there.”
He said the carts are popular because many large expositions are banning four wheelers and all-terrain vehicles because of size and noise.
“The golf carts are a perfect solution,” he says.
B & B uses local craftspeople for the custom upholstery, paint schemes and vinyl wraps.
“This really is a Southern Illinois business,” Jill explains.
Thanks to word-of-mouth and internet sales, the business sells carts in a large geographic area.
“Toby’s made deliveries to Fort Worth, the Wisconsin Dells even out to Pennsylvania,” Bill says. “Our main focus, however, is probably Illinois and the St. Louis area.”
He says B & B is willing to try new things just to please customers. He tells of “stretching” a golf cart to allow for three rows of seats and the company’s website features photographs of golf carts with custom bodies which make them look like classic automobiles.
He says that a recent delivery featured a John Deere yellow and green color scheme, others feature custom-painted bodies.
“Almost anything a customer can imagine, we can do,” he says.
Contact: B & B Golf Carts | 503 Hartline Road | Makanda, IL 62958 | 618-713-3905 | www.bbgolfcarts.com