ACEIT Sportswear Founder and GM Gino Arcella
“Although I did have a plan when I first started in business. I hadn’t planned on starting a business” recalls ACEIT Sportswear Founder and General Manager Gino Arcella, who claims he is still learning about planning despite having been in business for 25 years.
“The fact is that when the long established importer I was working for at the time decided to close their Sydney-based operation I was unexpectedly facing the prospect of unemployment and having to find another job.
“To be frank, I was only 21-years-old and not overly concerned about finding work (lot easier to find a job in the ‘80s), but when some of the old customers asked if I could help them out with their sportswear it suddenly occurred to me that I could possibly exploit the opportunity.”
With operations now spread over the globe with a major presence in the UK, Gino’s Wollongong based enterprise has come a long way since he first set up a small T-shirt manufacturing factory in Auburn Street.
Gino still retains the passion he had starting out and recalls that from Day One he had a plan. It was not a very elaborate document but it did have a detailed list of prospective customers and set out specific objectives to be achieved.
“As I recall, it was more of a Marketing Plan than a comprehensive Business Plan – no budgets or cash flow projections etc. It was really basic but I found a copy only recently and was surprised to read what was in my mind at the time and what I wanted to achieve. And yes, we did accomplish all we set out back then.
“I often get asked by people considering self-employment: what is required when starting a brand new business? I always answer the same way: you should spend more time on planning.
“Of course it, goes without saying that if you are not passionate about what you are doing you will not face up to, and triumph over, the adversities you inevitably face from time to time in any business.
“Passion is what gets me up every morning.”
Extracts from video interview with Gino Arcella
WOL: What are the pluses and minuses of being based in Wollongong?
GA: We live in a globalised world. ACEIT’s largest single market is in the UK these days and we mainly manufacture in China. Of course we have a very stable and capable local design and management team which is a big plus.
WOL: Has the internet affected your business?
GA: Completely. We have had a major web presence for many years: see our two main websites www.aceit.com.au and www.aceitsportswear.com.au. Plus we have other dedicated websites for special purposes.
Our major sports customers such as Lawn Bowls in the UK can log in and specify their requirements and receive detailed pricing completely online 24/7. When the order is confirmed and payment organised we will have the items manufactured in China and shipped direct.
WOL: What is the biggest plus running a global business based in Wollongong?
GA: I think having a stable reliable workforce is a major positive. Many of our team have been on board for over 20 years. You don’t usually get that in other places such as Sydney (we also have a presence in Alexandria) .
WOL: What is the main hurdle being based in Wollongong?
GA: I think in a globalised world most places share the same challenges and problems. And let’s face it, the Gong is a nice place to live, but the size of the local market in Wollongong does not provide the scale required to compete effectively on a global stage.
WOL: Are you saying local companies have to spread their wings to succeed in the long term?
GA: Certainly based on my personal experience and, from what I observe, that is definitely the case.
WOL: Sounds like you are more a marketing organisation than a manufacturer these days?
GA: That’s right. With exclusive licensing agreements we can offer sporting organisations a total service starting with online merchandise ordering pre-event right through to pop-up stores at venues for national competitions.
WOL: That’s not only in Australia?
GA: No, we do have a major presence in the UK but in fact we can deliver this type of service virtually anywhere in the world.
WOL: What do you see as the major challenges for Wollongong in the 21st century?
GA: Based on my personal experiences I think that our cost base is a problem for pure manufacturing in this country. In any digital future I can contemplate I think the ‘add value’ element will continue to be more important than the actual product or commodity creation.
In ACEIT’s case I think the design elements of merchandising and sportswear, together with the logistics, are essential to differentiating our offer. Distribution is becoming an increasingly critical ingredient in the value chain.
WOL: What do you see as ACEIT’s Unique Selling Proposition?
GA: When a customer (such as a major sports organisation) comes to see our team about events they are planning to run we sit down with them and examine the challenges and problems to be overcome, i.e. not just supplying all types of apparel, plus promotional items.
We concentrate on handling all the issues and meeting budgets for them. We put in place how their members/competitors can order their individual requirements – mainly but not only online. And we organise how all the orders will be delivered – which can include erecting and manning pop-ups at actual events.
It goes without saying, in a globalised market place, that our pricing and quality must be competitive … but we see ACEIT’s USP as being able to deliver the whole package.
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