Aussie SME comes to rescue of English football club

An Australian online sports apparel company has come to the aid of one of the third oldest football club in England, providing Sheffield Wednesday with a strip for the recently opened 2016/7 Football League Championship (the second tier of professional football, with direct promotion and relegation between itself and the EPL) season after the club’s existing supplier altered the terms of their deal and doubled their price just a couple of months before The Owls’ first game in their 150th anniversary season.

Despite the short turnaround time, founder and CEO of ONTHEGO (OTG), Mick Spencer, was able to match the club’s ambitions and the personalised kit range designed with input from Sheffield Wednesday supporters and supply the team with a strip in time for their season opener. In so doing OTG have become the first Australian company to supply an English football club’s kit.

Reflecting on the Sheffield Wednesday deal, Spencer says, “Our industry has not shifted a lot in the past 10-20 years, yet the consumer, athlete and fan has. This requires companies to have a more flexible and nimble supply chain, speed of delivery and high levels of customisation, so that when teams have huge requirements, and they need it fast, it can be done without hiccups.”

“This is what has been lacking in our industry from grassroots to high performance. OTG was founded on the mission of building a backbone that enables high levels of personalisation, no matter the size of order or where the customer is. Teams and clubs now do not have three or six months to wait for orders, they get their athlete feedback, sponsor notifications and requirements in just a matter of weeks. Sometimes, tens of thousands of items.”

Founded by Spencer as a one-man operation in July 2012, OTG now has approximately 20 full-time employees and works with major manufacturers to supply outfits for the likes of Hockey Australia – with whom OTG recently signed a five-year contract to exclusively kit out all their representative teams – the NRL, Cricket Australia, World Rugby, IRONMAN, Anytime Fitness, UNICEF, Government and Defence organisations, multinational organisations and national sporting bodies.

“Team is everything,” Spencer says.” As you grow as a founder, you realise that you are only one part of the team, not the whole team. It’s very important to identify where you are great, and where you far from great, and then establish a team around you with people who absolutely dominate in the areas that you are weak in.

“The founder must communicate constantly, to the customers, the team, the manufacturers, the partners, hand over at the right time, and delegation is absolutely critical. I ensure that communication is up front with new customers, so they understand our business well, who does what, and who will be responsible for which part.

“We build very strict program plans to run to, and ensure we run are agile in our plans so that we can deliver the promise and help the customer as much as possible. Now we’ve done more and more of these we learn each time, which means we can take our lessons from one, and move to the other,” Spencer concludes.

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