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Tennis Industry Court Builder of the Year

WHETHER HE'S ORGANIZING ONE OF WELCH Tennis's eight construction crews from Sun City, Fla., for a clay-court project a thousand miles away, or developing specific maintenance methods for an individual client, George Todd Jr. thrives on providing solutions. As a matter of fact, the 47 -year-old Todd, the president of one of the largest clay-court construction firms in the world, heads up a company that's focused on finding the right solutions for its customers-even if it means going back again. "When we work out the mistakes, we become better builders," he says. "It builds a lasting reputation and more opportunities. And it separates us from the average contractors."

Welch Tennis's reputation for quality and service in the court construction business has indeed separated it from average contractors, and that's why the company has been chosen as Tennis Industry's Court Builder of the Year.

"Welch has been effective nationally because they've standardized their approach by sending out their own teams," explains John Welborn, general manager of Lee Tennis in Charlottesville, Va. "Quality can be difficult to maintain from contractor to contractor and region to region. Welch always sends out its first string guys across the country. That way, it knows the quality put into each court."

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For nearly 29 years, Welch Tennis has had a steady reputation for quality. Todd recognized it in 1994, when he purchased the company, after he and his father sold their greenhouse water business. Todd then took his young HydroGrid company (with its three patents) and tucked it under the "Welch name. That's how HydroGrid became the subsurface irrigation method used today under so many tennis courts across the country.

Todd says that Welch Tennis's more than 12 per-cent annual growth is due to the whole team, including the original crew (David Welch, the vice president of construction, and Peggy and Burham Welch), with whom he went into business.

Currently, Welch is licensed to build courts in 30 states. As the company continues to expand across the country, it also has been forced to expand its offices, moving from a small facility in St. Petersburg, Fla., to its current 16,000 square feet of space in Sun City.

But Todd doesn't spend much time in the Sun City office himself, preferring to go out on maintenance checks of various projects that Welch has worked on. Recently, we caught up with him under the 18 subsurface irrigation courts at the Boca Raton Resort & Club. That is, he was in the parking garage, upon which Welch Tennis built the courts, having just finished checking over the courts and talking with-and listening to-the Boca Raton staff.

"We develop maintenance solutions and court tools for the people who have to maintain them every day," says Todd. "Some of the best ideas for court maintenance actually come from our customers." -Warren Florence

"Court Builder of the Year.” Tennis Industry Magazine. November/December 2001: 31

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