BEYOND THE BUSINESS – Humbled Beginnings
I grew up in Papakura, South Auckland, and was born the youngest of four siblings. My parents moved from Samoa with the hope of a better life for our aiga here in New Zealand, like many other immigrating families from the Pacific Islands. My siblings and I were brought up to cherish everything we had. Mum and Dad worked hard to provide us with what we needed but things never came easy for our family. We never had a lot, but life was still good.
My father’s expectations of us children from a very young age were exceptionally high and discipline was the number one teacher in our home. Dad was uncompromising in his ways and taught us very quickly the difference between right and wrong. The environment in which we were raised ultimately shaped me into who I was to become and who I am today. Although my relationship with my father never flourished as a child, the underlying message he was trying to teach us had subconsciously embedded itself within me. I suppose from then on, I realized that nothing was going to come easy, if there was something out there that I wanted, I simply had to knuckle down and work for it.
Fast forward 30 years and although my father is only in my memories – his teachings ring true to me every day as I continue to navigate my way through life.
‘My story’ is weaved through into the birth and creation of PJC Agencies in 2020 and below I will talk about some of the highs, challenges and achievements that have got me to where I am today.
BEYOND THE BUSINESS – Track and Field.
At an early age, I discovered I was different from my peers. I had a natural flair and talent for sports and athletics. The first thing I remember being great at was running, and running fast was what I liked to do. Growing up I was a part of the Manurewa Athletics Club and I quickly became very successful as a sprinter. My reputation grew on the track throughout my club years and further into my time at St Mary’s Primary School in Papakura. In turn, this passion for sprinting continued into my High School years at De La Salle College where I became the Auckland, Regional, and North Island Champ in the 100m and 200m sprint events.
Before attending De La Salle College – I was introduced to another sport that eventually would mould the next two decades of my life. With my father’s love for only athletics and him not wanting me to play or be part of any other sports, my friends Paul Goldfinch and Luke Allington snuck me off to play my very first game of rugby. Here I grew a love for the sport that ultimately led my life down a path where I was fortunate enough to play and have a successful semi-professional paid rugby career. Upon reflection, this time in my life is a time I will cherish forever and is one of my greatest achievements that I will forever be proud of.
Off the back of this experience, thanks to my two friends, Paul and Luke, I made various Counties Rugby representative teams, and in High School represented not only my province but my country at New Zealand Secondary Schools. Teams I were a part of include:
- Auckland Secondary Schools
- Northern Region Secondary Schools A-Team
- New Zealand Secondary School – UK Tour
- New Zealand Secondary School – Australia Tour
Following my successes in schoolboy rugby – I was then selected to represent New Zealand for the New Zealand Under 19’s and New Zealand Under 21 rugby teams. I also represented Auckland/Northland and Counties Manukau at National Provincial level in both 15 a side and in 7 a side rugby. A definite highlight was being selected for the New Zealand 7’s Squad in 2000 where I was fortunate to be a part of the World 7’s Circuit Squad. Following this, I was then selected to play for the Samoan 7’s side a few
years later in 2004 where I played in the England and Scotland World 7’s series tournaments. My 7’s and rugby career came to a close in 2005 where I decided to commit my full focus to my career as a working professional.
BEYOND THE BUSINESS – Sports vs Career.
Being a part of the NZRU Academy, taught me a lot about “life during rugby” as well as “life after rugby”. Whilst playing semi-professional rugby, I made a conscious decision to also obtain employment. Although rugby at the time was my focus and top priority, I wanted to also ensure that I was at least beginning to build my professional capabilities for when the time came that my professional career would shift to being my main
In 1996, Rebel Sports was introduced to the New Zealand market, and I was employed by Rebel Sports as a casual employee in their footwear department. Here I began to find a real love for things other than rugby – sales, networking and shoes. I was quickly promoted to a Department Manager of the Manukau store and eventually promoted into the Trainee Manager programme within the business.
After three years with Rebel Sports New Zealand, I moved to Puma New Zealand, where I was appointed to a Store Manager position. I stayed with the Puma Company for six years and worked in various roles. Seeking new challenges, I then moved onto a family-owned and operated Recruitment Agency “The Ultimate Recruitment Company” owned by Joanna Wilson. Working in recruitment was a pivotal turning point in my
career. I was fortunate enough to learn and become equipped with the right tools and experience to help me successfully navigate through one of the most challenging roles I was yet to encounter, to build and grow a struggling brand here in New Zealand, Russell Athletic.
Russell Corporation was where I headed next after turning down an opportunity with Sports apparel giant – Adidas. In 2008 I chose to work for a heritage brand that was iconic to New Zealand fashion but a brand that was also losing its market share – RUSSELL ATHLETIC. From 2008 -2019 I worked alongside my Australian counterparts to rebuild the brand presence of Russell Athletic here in New Zealand. Working alongside key partners like Stirling Sports, Red Rat Clothing and especially my ex-employers REBEL SPORT made the restoration of the Russell Athletic brand possible.
During my time with Russell Corporation – my team complied a number of apparel awards which comprised of Sales Awards for both Spalding Basketball and Russell Athletic in multiple years. Russell Athletic Sales Team of the Year, Spalding Sales Team of the Year and Overall Sales Team of the Year. Our relationships with key clients expanded and the brand was experiencing huge sales growth off the back of some tough years in the early 2000’s. Needless to say – The New Zealand business had turned itself around to once again to compete with other iconic sporting apparel brands like, but not limited, to Adidas, Champion, Puma and Nike.
BEYOND THE BUSINESS – Change is a Necessity.
It wasn’t always going to be a fairy-tale story, following these successes – things quickly changed with the sports market shifting its focus to activewear and performance-based apparel customers. Heritage and lifestyle brands like Russell Athletic became surplus to requirements with some of our key clients across both New Zealand and Australia. Russell Corporation decided to license the Russell Athletic brand to DesignWorks and eventually onto Mitch Dowd to ensure the business growth was able to continue and thrive.
BRING ON THE BUSINESS – PJC Agencies Ltd.
Following these changes, as well as experiencing the COVID19 Global Pandemic and the impact that this had on not only the New Zealand economy but the global economy, I was made redundant from my role at DesignWorks. At the time, I was deeply saddened by this decision knowing how loyal I had been to the brand as well as acknowledging all the time, effort, hours of work, and love I had given to this brand over the past decade to see it succeed. After some strategic planning and self-reflection, I identified an opportunity to step out on my own to better my situation. I decided to start working for myself and to start up my own business and become an agent for sportswear and clothing apparel.
Working for myself and starting up my own business was something I always wanted to do but the timing had never seemed right. It wasn’t until I realized that sometimes the timing is never right, that with a bit of faith along with backing myself, my ability, my experience, and my expertise in this field of work, that PJC Agencies Ltd was founded in November 2020.
PJC Agencies is a business where we offer creditable service based on many years of industry experience, sales expertise, and business avenues curated by my extensive database of contacts. You will also get to work with a person who is motivated to deliver on the tasks at hand and is also willing to create opportunities to grow your business.
BEYOND THE BUSINESS – To Infinity and Beyond.
Fast-forward almost 12 months, PJC Agencies Ltd has been fortunate enough to secure business with the likes of:
- Mitch Dowd – Russell Athletic
- Designworks – Everlast Boxing
- Designworks – Slazenger Tennis
- Brands Collective – Elwood Apparel
- EquipFit – EquipFit and Eleiko Equipment
- Canterbury – Canterbury of NZ Apparel
The growth of my agency and assisting each of the above brands to increase sales and market share within my territory is my key focus and priority. I pride myself on my diligence, my work ethic, and my ability to give anything a go. My life has shaped me into the person today and I draw on all my experiences to deliver the best possible outcome for the brands I work with, as well as PJC Agencies. I look forward to continuing to market and sell quality products and brands, as well as growing my key brand relationships. As PJC Agencies Ltd grows in conjunction with these brands, I will endeavour to continue to add brands to my portfolio to eventually have the biggest sporting apparel and equipment-based agency in New Zealand.