Employer of Choice: Team Spirit Sports
Name / business name/location: My name is Jeremy Lipscombe, I am one of the Directors here at Team Spirit Sports along with my business partner Jarrod Lipscombe who also happens to be my brother. Located in Kempsey on the Mid North Coast we have our Head Office, warehouse and now Australian Made factory all located on the one site. We have also very recently acquired a business in Coffs Harbour that has been operating for the past 19 years – this will allow us to better service the Northern NSW region. We have 24 fulltime employees – 16 local 8 offshore.
Describe your core business: Our core business is custom-made uniforms and teamwear for sporting clubs, schools, and businesses Australia wide. This year Team Spirit will have been operating for 15 years and the business was built on the custom-made sportswear market. When COVID hit, like many other businesses, our sports uniform enquiries stopped overnight because there no was community sport being played. This gave us the opportunity to pivot into the school uniform space, which has now grown into a significant part of our business.
How would you define an excellent employer?
I would describe an excellent employer as a business who makes key decisions with their employees at the front of their mind – not solely profit or finances.
In your organisation, what are some of the things you do that make you an employer of choice? We’ve been in charge for 8 years and when we first started it was just us. It’s been a learning curve, but it’s always been important to us to put the employees at the forefront and have a good working environment. I think being a good employer is made up of a vast number of things and rather than implementing one or two things at a late stage (which I think is fine for a business trying to change their culture), we have had an employee first perspective as our systems and processes have been built. Some of these include:
- Work is work and family is family: we all come to work to make a living for our important lives and families outside of work. With this in mind, we are as flexible as possible when it comes to family events (award ceremonies, first day of school, sport carnivals, baby appointments etc).
- Fair pay: if the business is doing well and the staff member has a hand in that, they deserve to be rewarded – as simple as that.
- We have a ping pong table we pull out on a Friday afternoon and have a cold beverage to end the week.
- Half-day for the Kempsey Cup races and have a marquee for everyone to enjoy.
- I also think things like ping pong and horse races are nice to have, but they mean nothing if you’re not approachable as an employer – you need to be there for your staff.
Why is it important to you that you are an excellent employer?
We’ve always taken the approach that our employees make or break us. If you don’t have happy employees who like being at work, then how are they going to provide good service to our customers? Look after your employees and they will look after your business. The growth that our business has experienced is off the hard work of everyone as a team.
What have you learned along your journey to becoming an employer of choice? I’m responsible for the hires – I’ve learned to prioritise the importance of our team environment and team morale, and make hiring decision based on how they fit in the existing team – it’s not all about the experience and skills, it’s more about the ability to fit within the culture. That works every time.
Do you employ young people (under 25)? Do you consider you do that effectively? Why/Why not? Yes, we have a couple of young people – it comes with its own challenges. It’s not specifically an age thing, it’s more a factor of maturity. The things young people who come and work for us generally need to build are their communication skills, both verbal and written, appropriate professional tone, appropriate use of mobile phones, overusing breaks, and often just adjusting to an office job.
What is your advice to organisations that want to improve as an employer? It’s important to acknowledge that the employees are not the employers – have realistic expectations and don’t expect they will have the same motivation as you. If you do have an employee who is going above and beyond, acknowledge and reward, and build on that culture. Make the time to have open sit down conversations with the staff, encourage suggestions and implement the best ones.
What key trends do you see impacting your business in the next 5-10 years?
The major trend in our industry is the significant increase in demand for Australian Made clothing. Since COVID we have seen this demand skyrocket, and over the next 5-10 years I can see a lot of manufacturing, over a number for industries, move back to Australia.
This month we have hundreds of thousands of dollars of machinery being installed and five new staff starting as we begin to onshore our manufacturing. From the beginning of March, we will be able to proudly produce some of our orders from start to finish, right here in Kempsey.