Chapter 3: JAW is 100% Australian Made
As you know, JAW successfully launched in 2011, and quickly took off to become one of the most well-known brands in the CrossFit industry. People from all corners of Australia and the rest of the world wanted their own set of the infamous JAW Grips!
Why was JAW so popular across the world?
Not only did the grips offer comfort, durability and a second skin feel for crossfit movements, JAW’s most well known asset was the fact it was (and still is today) 100% Hand Made in Australia by men and women just like you and me!
From the materials used to craft the JAW range, to the manufacturing, packaging and dispatch process, the JAW Brand proudly stood by its Australian made status. With business booming and continuing to grow at a rapid rate within the CrossFit Community, product demands and quality standards grew to an all time high. Kym and her small team of sewers quickly became overwhelmed with the sheer volumes required which meant the team needed to expand. Along with expansion came challenges and the simple procedures that once sufficed would need revisiting to ensure production and manufacturing processes were streamlined in order to meet Australian Industry Standards. Not only workplace health and safety but product safety and quality assurance was imperative.
The original JAW office was located in Owner and Founder Kym's garage in the beginning but it wasn’t long before the walls were stretched, and it was time to move. In 2013, JAW relocated its office to Coolum Beach Industrial Estate. This 160sqm new space consisted of five offices over two floors and 80sqm warehousing space, which meant JAW had plenty of room to grow (for now). The new office also saw the introduction of multiple new staff members, hand-picked by Kym herself, to help in the ever-expanding daily list of to-dos. The JAW Team was a force to be reckoned with. Initially, the entire process was crazily scary but the continuation of the brands growth quickly sustained the move to larger premises. And yes, we continued our 100% Australian Made status!
Fast forward to 2017, JAW had tripled it’s annual sales turnover and the demand for JAW Grips continued to dominate the market in the CrossFit world. The once huge office space now seemed so small as the team and production line grew to fill every nook and cranny. It just so happened that a second warehouse and office became available just five doors down from the original JAW Headquarters, so once again the team spread out a little more. This meant the JAW Manufacturing Team who were currently working from their individual homes, now had the opportunity to join the rest of the team and work from the massive multifunctional premises in Coolum Beach (those who lived on the Sunshine Coast anyway). It was luxurious and spacious and each team member had their own space to comfortably produce quality products to meet the demands of the market.
At this time, Kym and Sean’s local CrossFit Box was looking for a new owner and given their long history and knowledge of the sport, it only made sense that the massive 200sqm space in the new warehouse be the new home of CrossFit Coolum Beach. The pair took on their newest challenge of owning a CrossFit Gym whilst continuing complete domination of providing quality crossfit products to the wider community. The gym became their new obsession, a proud business to compliment JAW!
2018 and JAW was at its peak; the name was known by everyone, everywhere! Production was well over 2000 units per week and the demand for the product was out of control. But, ‘never become complacent’ is something that Kym said to me that will always stick in my mind. What she meant by that at the time didn’t resonate with me as I was still a young high school kid, but now that I am reminded, I know exactly what she was referring to...
To sustain a successful business yesterday, today and five years from now, you need to ensure that you have a well organized plan and stick to that plan. Know your numbers and most importantly, know your competition. Because in reality, other people will always want what you have, success.
Competition is the fiercest hurdle in business and how to handle your competition is key. JAW had a bitter sweet lesson in learning how to deal with competition and sustainability of product demand due to increased competition. In 2018, the grips market was flooded with new and upcoming companies producing new and innovative products meeting the ever increasing demands of the rigorous sport. It is with this that a refocus on product popularity, retailer and distributor networks along with the costs to manufacture in Australia vs taking production offshore became a reality. JAW chose to maintain it’s Australian Made status and stayed put. However, the increase in competition meant things needed to change quickly. This resulted in a scaling back in distribution networks and in turn a decrease in team and production outputs.
Today, in reflection, the choice to maintain an Australian Made status and supply through smaller networks has proven to be a successful move for the brand. Proudly, the team have managed to sail through two years of covid pretty much unscathed and have come out the other side even stronger as a team and brand.
The lessons have been cherished and will continue to guide Kym and the team for years to come.
Stay tuned for the next Chapter in the JAW Chronicles - Covid: how did we cope!