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James Gilbert SA

Left to right: Gavin Hunter, Gilbert brand manager, sales and marketing manager Damien Rudham, operations manager Pam Goulding, CEO Wayne Dannheisser and Everlast brand manager Jannie Smal.

April/May 2012

Big plans for new JGSA team

The restructuring of JGSA complete, the new management team is raring to tackle new opportunities, like developing and distributing lifestyle ranges for Everlast

James Gilbert SA (JGSA) had a good start to the year. Not only has the management team been restructured and strengthened, but they also acquired the full SA distribution and licensing rights to Everlast — from boxing, MMA, to fashion, gym wear and footwear, the whole tutti. On top of that, Gilbert has been re-appointed the official ball and equipment supplier to the Springboks — a partnership they have already shared with SARU for many years.

After two years of team building and getting the right business models in place, they now have a strong management team in place, says CEO Wayne Dannheisser.

Approachable and accommodating, he believes the role of the CEO is to stay in the background and support the management team, not to be out in the limelight. The joking interjections and casual comments from the other managers during the interview support his claim that they have done away with a strict hierarchy.

He joined JGSA in 2010 when former JGSA CEO Eric Ichikowitz was transferred to another division in TransAfrica Capital, the multi-holdings company run by his brother Ivor.

Management restructure

Before joining TransAfrica Capital, Dannheisser had been managing a private equity portfolio. A chartered accountant and chartered financial analyst by training, Dannheisser was transferred from TransAfrica Capital to reintegrate JGSA into the group structures after the Glomail transaction was unwound.

He has spent the past two years implementing a control infrastructure that is customer-centric and ensured that the management team built around this infrastructure is empowered to build on the Group vision.

JGSA is not about individuals, it is about the team, stresses Dannheisser. “And we now have the right team in place.”

Gavin Hunter has been appointed Gilbert brand manager. He joined the company four and a half years ago and jokes that he had to work himself up from the bottom, doing just about everything, from sponsorship to “driving the truck behind the Springboks.”

Apart from the Springboks, Gilbert is the official ball supplier to many rugby franchises. They have been targeting development within amateur rugby structures and were the official ball supplier at most of the major tournaments played over the recent Easter weekend.

They are the apparel sponsor of the Blue Bulls apparel, amateur SWD teams, and all the Lions teams. They are also the cricket apparel sponsor for the Dolphins, Titans and Cobras.

Nowadays, they concentrate more on their core business. “Gilbert is about wholesale distribution,” says Dannheisser. “We know how to build on the strength of the brand by getting the product right, putting it into the market, and doing what worked well in the past.”

Apart from being the official ball supplier for SARU as long as many people can remember, Gilbert also supplies the official ball for IFNA — the world netball association. They have appointed Leigh-Ann Zackey, a former Proteas player to manage the Gilbert netball division.

Operations manager Pam Goulding joined JGSA in same month as Hunter. She has years’ experience of apparel import and at local apparel company, She Apparel.

The new distribution agreement with Everlast will present many apparel development opportunities. The distribution of the brand was formerly split between JGSA (performance equipment for boxing and MMA) and Apparel International responsible for the lifestyle apparel and footwear ranges.

Everlast fashion

“The range is amazing,” enthuses sales and marketing manager Daniel Rudham.

Twice selected the Best technical MMA equipment manufacturer, Everlast has streetcred amongst the vast number of supporters of this fast growing entertainment sport. When EFC Africa (Extreme Fighting Championship) was aired on eTV, it attracted 1.8-m viewers — it was simultaneously shown in a packed Nu Metro theatre and watched by a crowd of 8 000 at Carnival City, says Rudham.

Everlast brand manager, Jannie Smal, is a SA national level muay Thai practitioner — one of the many fighting styles that forms part of MMA — and therefore has all the right contacts to grow the brand’s presence in the sport. Before becoming Everlast brand manager about eighteen months ago, he had been a JGSA agent in Mpumalanga, Limpopo and Free State for about eight years.

In addition to the technical MMA and boxing ranges — the latter still popular due to the brand’s link with Muhammad Ali — Smal will also be responsible for the two apparel ranges for men and women. The authentic range consists of hoodies, tracksuit tops etc, while fashionable tees and gym wear form part of the lifestyle range. They also have the license to develop footwear ranges and will be working with the distributor of Everlast watches to grow brand awareness.

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