Pádraic, a former professional cyclist who represented Ireland at an International level, is from Indreabhán in Connemara and established Velotec 16 years ago. Founder Pádraic Quinn is well versed in the demands of elite cycling. An Irishman who followed the traditional pathway to the sport’s heartland by moving to France in the 1990s. He spent seven years as a full-time racer, gathering first-hand knowledge of the advantages gained from quality clothing – and the detriment to the rider of garments that failed to perform.
Pádraic founded Velotec in 2004, determined to remain at the heart of the sport. Equipped with the admirably simple modus operandi of supplying “quality clothing at reasonable prices”, while offering good customer service, he has guided Velotec to a successful decade-and-a-half in business.
Pádraic, what first motivated you to enter the Australian market?
We have had clients in Australia for a long time. Mainly these are elite athletes who are buying bespoke suits in their team colours. I can guess you can call some of these clients early adapters. Some may have come across our products on online forms / discussions on aero clothing or racing in Europe.
What are the cultural challenges & opportunities for Irish businesses in Australia?
Australia is known globally as a country where sport plays a major role. I would even say that a lot of sports institutes around the world based their model on the AIS. I raced against the AIS cycling team and it was such a success. So many of those riders made it into the top tier of the sport. A lot of athletes retire to Australia to become involved in coaching etc. The only challenges are the logistics of shipping from Italy and obviously the time difference etc. But both those problems can be resolved by having a good representative to deal directly with all customers.
Looking back at Velotec’s evolution, what do you think you could have done more or less of?
We started off from small beginnings and we the aim was gradual growth and learning along the way-micro steps really. We spent a few years exploring the fashion side of cycling. This is an area where you have brands like Rapha / MAAP etc. But it wasn’t really us. We get excited about athletes performing well in our suits and we love seeing athletes at the highest level performing well with items we supplied. Sometimes they cannot use our brand, but it still feels good.
Velotec has experienced impressive international growth, serving 22 global markets. How does Australia compare to other English-speaking markets like the US?
Obviously we are strongest in the UK / EU market and we have also made good progress in the USA and our clothing is now being worn in most countries around the world. If there is a Track / TT / TRI scene, we are there.
Velotec turned 17 this year and since its foundation has grown rapidly into new international markets. How has the company adapted to thrive across different markets?
The market itself has changed in that time. Online shopping has accelerated the global market to a level we didn’t even imagine. Then off course speedwear is a niche but global market. The sports industry has changed dramatically in recent years.
What do you see as the major trends facing this sector over the next five years?
The current crisis is really the biggest issue right now and also long term. Hopefully we can all get back racing on the roads, trails and velodromes pretty soon.
The other major issue facing sports is sponsorship. Most medium sized companies don’t have enough budget and also some of the big corporates like Amazon, Apple etc don’t seem to be too interested in sports sponsorship.
More and more Irish firms are looking to Australia as a priority market, what do you put this down to
I believe that Australians want good customer service and a quality product that has a local connection, be it development or design and I think they like the idea that it is manufactured in Europe.
I think the Australian market is a good fit for European premium quality brands. We cannot compete with Asian countries on price, but we can make sure we stay one step ahead when it comes to performance and quality.
What would you regard as your greatest achievement to date?
We have supplied a number of world champions with suits and the excitement of watching that race in our office is very special.
If you could step into the shoes of one business person for the day, who would it be and why?
It would probably be a global media tycoon like Rupert Murdoch. That kind of power and influence can change all of our lives. It can change the outcome of elections and impact our world view. It could definitely be used as a force for good.
What are your aspirations for the future of your business?
My aspirations are that Velotec’s core values remain the same regardless of growth. I hope we retain the smaller company attitude of really wanting to make sure the client is happy. So no automated message or waiting to speak to someone. Obviously we would love to officially sponsor a good national team at the Olympics or a world Tour Cycling Team. but for now we are walking.
Velotec, whose online store can be found at www.shop-velotec.cc, also sponsors a number of teams and individual triathletes.
Velotec now specialise in speedwear, developing aerodynamic clothing that have propelled riders to multiple National and World titles.