Name and age: Robert McCracken, 45
Company name and description: McCracken Leasing leases and sells golf-cart fleets to courses in his native Australia.
Based: Manhattan Beach, California
1998 sales: $85,000
Teeing off: "I was living near a golf course when I thought of the idea," McCracken says, "I kept seeing all these white buggies. I mentioned that to my brother, Len, in Australia, and he said everybody there walks [around the courses]. So we started checking into getting some carts there."
Avoiding fairway hazards: "The new vehicle tax in Australia is something like 90 percent--so if you wanted a new $5,000 cart, it would end up costing you more than $9,000. The tax on used vehicles [26 percent] is stiff, too, but it's bearable. Shipping them one at a time would cost a lot of money on top of that, so we don't send carts to a club until we have a signed agreement for a number of them."
Chip shots: Once the carts arrive in Australia, they're very low maintenance. "All you have to do is plug them in." One mobile mechanic can service McCracken's entire operation. The carts also run well for several years, allowing McCracken to generate three to four times his purchase price through leasing revenues.
Clubhouse advice: "You've got to be careful when you take on an overseas partner. My saving grace was having my brother in Australia. I can't give $30,000 worth of golf carts to a drunken lout. California's Export Small Business Development Center also helped me out a lot--getting me through paperwork and shipping stuff."