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De Wet Sports | Reasons for success | Sports industryTheir loyal and dedicated staff members are one of the main reasons of their success. Above left are office workers Natasha Rossouw, Kevin de Wet, Amy Dorrington, Charl de Wet, Almarette de Wet, Hayden Smith, Leslie Krogmann and Francois Plaatjies. Above right: The warehouse staff members are (back) Kevin Gordon, Melville Vis, Willem Cloete, Edward Simon and Mitchell Fontein. Nathan Wagner, Denzel Swartz and Llewellyn Alexander are seated in front.
November 2015

Reasons for the

De Wets’ success

After nearly forty years’ experience in family businesses and the sports industry, the De Wets from De Wet Sports know the industry inside out. That has contributed to the success of their current distributorship, reports NICOL DU TOIT

Charl de Wet joined De Wet Brothers in Stellenbosch in the late sixties as a third generation de Wet. De Wet Brothers had a big department store in Stellenbosch and several sports stores who operated as De Wet Sports.

Charl enjoyed participating in a variety of sports and it seemed natural for him to join their sports division. His first assignment was to join Perry Sport in Holland to learn something about the sports industry.

When he returned he soon became involved in their wholesaling side, sourcing product and selling to retailers. It worked very much the same way a distributor worked and he developed good relationships with manufacturers overseas as well as local retailers.

This gave him valuable experience and contacts in distribution, which would later become his main business.

By the mid-eighties he decided to go his own way and he and his wife started CDW Agencies. They later changed the name to De Wet Sports. He represented Tatlow and Pledger, who in those days imported a number of sports brands in addition to some fishing brands. He started off being a representative of Tatlow and Pledger, but his intention has always been to trade for himself. He soon obtained the right to distribute Elkadarts who allowed him to import small quantities to build up the brand over time.

Tatlow and Pledger started moving out of the sports market to concentrate on fishing and Charl then decided to start importing sports products on his own and began to establish his own Medalist brand.

Although Medalist was their main focus, they also handled other brands.

After spending a year working in London, Charl’s son Kevin, joined the family business soon after the turn of the century. He says the bug bit when his father invited him to an ISPO exhibition in Munich and he decided to come back and join the family business.

Kevin’s wife, Almarette, and sister, Amy, also joined soon afterwards and the fresh flow of ideas and energy enabled them to expand rapidly. Today they have grown to such an extent that they now do four of their own brands — Medalist sports equipment, Aqualine diving and swimming, Surge extreme sports and Tanga beach and surf products. They also have three brands they do for overseas principals — Elkadarts, Bestway inflatables and Tramontina knives.

They have grown their ranges and volumes to such an extent that they are now in a good position to shop around for the best qualities and prices and can design their own packaging and products.

Previously, they were forced to take what the manufacturers offered, because their order volumes were not big enough. They make a conscious effort to keep on expanding the number of ranges of products they carry as well as to adding to the variety of products within a range. It not only enables them to offer a wider variety to their existing customers, but also to offer products to new customers who might be on the fringes of their target market.

When asked what made them successful there is no doubt that the first and foremost reason is customer service. Order turnaround time is crucial in their business.

They are also the first to acknowledge the importance of loyal, competent and dedicated staff. They never had the need to get rid of a staff member and no staff member ever resigned from the company. This allows people to really get to know the needs of all their customers and suppliers and make them committed to meet those needs.

The size of the range of products they carry is very important. “It is as important for a distributor to have a wide range of products and to have products in stock as it is for a retailer,” Charl says. “When you don’t have a product wanted by a retailer, it is a sale lost forever.”

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