When it comes to designing and building quality sports equipment, Trevor Bowman likes to play hard.
26 years ago, he and his wife Radmila started the family business – Play Hard Sports Equipment – in their backyard with a single product: basketball hoops.
A lot has happened since then.
Today the company designs and manufactures a range of more than three hundred different products covering 11 different sports at their Burleigh Heads base. Innovative product design and quality have been the hallmark of the business culture from the very beginning.
“It has grown substantially from what it first was and what the first vision was”, says Trevor, who is also the chief Product Designer. “Doing things your way is also a lot more fun”.
After exhibiting at Trade Shows around the world, the company signed a long long-term licensing agreement in August 2016 with Gill Athletics in the USA, the world’s oldest and largest athletic equipment manufacturer.
Orders are now flowing in from as far as Muscat, Oman and parts of the US for products like tennis posts and throwing cages.
A turning point for the company came in 2017, in preparation for the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games. The company submitted a proposal to supply athletics track and field assets, as part of the Games’ sports fixtures tender process.
“We were appointed at the eleventh hour”, recalls Trevor.
Despite their last-minute entry, Play Hard successfully supplied 26 different sporting products during the course of the Games, most of which were custom designs. They also provided ongoing support with multiple installations before and after the 2018 Australian Athletics Championships, the Games’ competition days and closing ceremony.
The success of the XXI Games not only reinforced Australia’s global reputation for staging international major events, but also became a marquee project that further projected Play Hard onto the world sporting stage.
“It certainly elevated us” says Trevor.
The additional exposure helped Play Hard win the next big contracts, including supplying their signature umpire chairs at the Miami Tennis Open.
With product names like Thor, Excalibur and Apollo, the sporting equipment Play Hard designs and manufactures certainly stands for quality, durability and greatness.
Their range includes in-stadium, club level and recreational sporting equipment for sports such as tennis, basketball, rugby, AFL, athletics, football, futsal, hockey, badminton, cricket, netball and volleyball. They design and manufacture tennis posts, basketball towers, rugby goals, athletic hammer throw cages and tennis umpire chairs.
Asset placements have been at Sydney Olympic Park, the Queensland Tennis Centre, Cbus Stadium Gold Coast, KDV Sports Academy Gold Coast, Robina Stadium – home of the NRL Gold Coast Titans, BOUNCEinc, Queensland Tennis Centre and the Gold Coast Sports Centre – the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games’ premier training facility for athletics, hockey and beach volleyball.
“From time to time we need funding for growth, and we’ve looked at finance arrangements from banks”, says Trevor. “And we find that the pain point in obtaining finance is the amount of time that we have to put into paperwork to obtain the loan”.
Access to finance and speed was particularly important in the lead-up to the XXI Games.
“We had difficulty manufacturing so many items before payment came through”, Trevor says. “Shift was able to fill in that gap for us and they were very easy to communicate with”.
“Obtaining finance with Shift was really easy”, agrees Play Hard Director Radmila Bowman. “All we had to do is send in our bank statements, fill in the loan documents, so that only took me a day. And then within 48 hours we had the money in our account”.
“Whereas going through the bank required a whole lot more documentation and was probably going to take 2 weeks to get approved. We didn’t have that time”, she says. “I think as you can imagine as a small business, when you need funding, it’s now that you need it, not in two weeks’ time. Two weeks’ time is too late, you’ve missed the job, you can’t do the work”.
“Our business is at a stage where we’re expanding overseas and obtaining finance is key for us to succeed in doing that”, says Trevor.
“Down the track we’ve refinanced again probably two more times and been introduced to their Line of Credit so we’ve now set that up as well” says Radmila. “So, we’re good for the future”.
Next up for Play Hard Sports Equipment: the 2022 Commonwealth Games in Birmingham.
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