As Australian basketball icon and long-time Melbourne Tigers player, Andrew Gaze learnt a lot about the business of basketball. But that didn’t stop him experiencing the odd balls up in his own retail ventures.
Sometimes the numbers just don’t add up.
The biggest issues the Melbourne Tigers faced were financial.
A lot of the time we were on a knife’s edge. In 2002 it came to a head and it was a case of sell or fold. Radical change was required.
A backwards step can take you forwards.
We went through a painful re-structuring process, selling shares in the club and changing venue from the 10,000-seat Vodafone Arena to the 3,500-seat State Netball and Hockey Centre. It was perceived as a backwards step, but the turnaround in the club was beyond my wildest expectations. It’s been a resounding success.
Business was a natural progression from basketball.
Over the past 10-15 years I’ve been entrepreneurial within the sport. I ran camps and clinics, school holiday programs, promotional activities and merchandising. Then, five years ago I decided to develop my own brand with a mate. I wasn’t trying to find a new career; I was just doing things I liked.
You can still stuff things up pretty badly.
With the Gaze brand, we started off producing basketballs. Our biggest client was K-Mart. We managed all the warehousing and deliveries ourselves, but had no idea what we were doing. So we gave the logistics to another company, but we didn’t check their work. Soon, four or five orders of 10,000-15,000 basketballs had been missed and we started to go, ‘Holy shit, we’ve got a problem’.
Be sure to get plenty of love.
After that debacle, we licensed the brand. We signed a three-year contract with a large company but they didn’t give the brand the love it needed. Seven months later the company was being bought out and was cutting staff and costs. So our basketballs were basically warehoused. We’d get our money, but nothing was being sold. It stopped the momentum of the brand.
Enter the exit strategy.
Now, when we license our brand for clothes and footwear, we include conditions for the promotion of the products as well as an exit strategy. That way, if there’s an exit, we get time to take back control of the brand or give it to someone else before it dies.
There are always lessons to learn.
Some are more dramatic than others, but it’s ongoing, in all aspects of life. That’s what makes the challenges so rewarding when you succeed. If it all falls into your lap, it doesn’t mean
as much. But dealing with challenges and overcoming adversity along the way makes the reward all that more significant.
Andrew Gaze retired from basketball in 2005. With business partner Nigel Purchase, he runs Australian Basketball Resources, producing the Gaze range of footwear and apparel (the basketballs didn’t go so well). After an introduction from Austrade, the business recently entered into a strategic partnership with Indian sports retail company Jus Sportz to source and distribute leading Australian brands in retail stores across India.