Merger Of Skills Builds Clientele
THEY say opposites attract, but in business, diversity can create a wonderful balance
Graeme Gulloch, who formerly ran Graeme Gulloch and Associates, and Vicki Tiegs, formerly of WIN Television, are not complete opposites but they are proof of how two distinct and individually capable people can work together and form a formidable team.
Since they co-founded Waples Marketing 51/2 years ago, the pair has been successful in combining the unique skills they use to maximum advantage for a growing client base in Wollongong and beyond.
In the process, they have provided opportunities for Illawarra residents working in Sydney to work closer to home and unearthed some great new talent from inside and outside the region.
A key to their success is knowing each other’s strengths and complementing each other’s skills in the business that is now just known as Waples.
“When Graeme and I went into business we were really aware of the fact that we have complementary strengths and skills and experiences,” Mrs. Tiegs said.
“And I think our business growth has been a testament to the fact that we acknowledge what each other’s strengths are. I will happily step aside on certain things because I just know Graeme is just 20 steps in front of me on that thing. There are other things where he will say I think that is you.”
Mrs. Tiegs said like any good partnership learning to work together was not instant.
“It took us a while to work out who was better at what,” she said.
“We knew when we started there were some definite things, but over time we learned more. One of the things for us as a business that Graeme made sure happened was that we had a focus and a plan and we had an result we wanted to achieve.
“We have literally built our business step by step. As we have been able to achieve another milestone we have done something different in the business. For example, we have brought an accountant in now. One of the first things we tried to make sure of was the financials were really solid.”
Mr. Gulloch said they appeared on the surface to be different people with different personalities, but there were many areas where their skills overlapped.
Ethically and morally they see themselves as being very aligned.
“I also think we both have an eye for an opportunity,” he said.
Mr. Gulloch believed he brought structured thinking to the business.
He said he was good at taking all the relevant information, putting it into some sense and order, being able to see all the options and assess the way forward.
“Graeme has those moments where he will look at something and say I think that is what it has to be,” Mrs. Tiegs said.
“But then he will go away and think it through to see if that is really it.”
Mrs. Tiegs sees herself as a driven person, an instinctive marketer, very commercially minded and able to immediately identify what will need to be done to make an idea viable.
“I would say she is tactical and I’m strategic,” Mr. Gulloch said.
“She is consumer and business/corporate.”
Waples has been expanding insourcing expertise, but the company also works with a range of freelance specialists.
Growth that has occurred internally has been funded out of cash flow to ensure the business is sustainable at every level.
Mr. Gulloch and Mrs. Tiegs said the last thing they wanted to do in business is to have to put people off.
Their philosophy has worked.
Waples has grown from a four-person operation on the corner of Church and Stewart Streets in 2003 to larger premises in the lower end of Crown St Mall where it now has a team of 15.
Despite being in public relations and marketing Mr. Gulloch and Mrs. Tiegs have never sought publicity for their own business.
Enterprise approached them for this story, and they agreed only reluctantly because they saw themselves and their team as the people behind the scenes getting exposure for their clients.
“Our reward is for clients to say you have done a great job and talk to us because they are so happy with what we have done,” Mrs. Tiegs said.
And that has included many interesting projects such as providing the initial public relations for the introduction of green bags into Australia five years ago.
From the humble beginnings with a story in the Illawarra Mercury when Waples was just beginning, the concept of green bags has diversified into a range of bags available everywhere.
It is something Mrs. Tiegs is really proud of.
“We were the people who really brought them to the public arena in Australia which was fantastic,” she said.
“We also worked nationally on Smorgan Steel’s Great Scrap Round-Up which for us was a great campaign because it probably gave us the first full national campaign to roll out. And it gave us the chance to work with Lee Kernaghan who I just think is one of the great Australians.
“Our team was just over the moon, and the client was over the moon because we delivered such fantastic return on investment for them.”
Mr. Gulloch said other notable campaigns were the Dragons Red V Is a Part of Me campaign which Waples pitched for shortly after introducing a creative department and every part of the business became involved.
Telstra Countrywide engaged the company for work in Penrith, the Macarthur region, Canberra, Newcastle and the entire South Coast.
Waples has also done work outside the region for the WIN Corporation and is presently in the process of opening a small office in Sydney.
The business is generally doing work for up to 60 active clients at any one time within the Illawarra.
Mrs. Tiegs said Waples is proud to have continued to expand in an increasingly competitive market.
She sees the growing competition as a good thing at a time when more businesses are discovering the benefits of marketing.
Waples has also enjoyed creating the opportunity to attract more talent.
“As Wollongong has changed I’ve noticed there are a lot of people moving down here from Sydney for lifestyle and after a while for family reasons they prefer to work here as well,” she said.
“We have been really lucky in that we have managed to secure highly talented people with fantastic skills and experience who have worked on big accounts and we have had a lot of young people come through our business who have gone on to work nationally and internationally.”
But one of Mr. Gulloch and Mrs. Tiegs’ many skills is being able to work together with other talented people in Wollongong and the Illawarra.
They managed the Illawarra Tourism Awards for many years and recently Waples has evolved more significantly into events working with Kylie-Ann Haynes who was involved in World Youth Day and is likely to be involved in the next World Youth Day in Madrid.