Speed, adrenaline and handlebars have helped Jet Pilot Australia create a multi million-dollar business.
The Gold Coast-headquartered company began as a clothing brand for water sports in 2001, selling to around 30 retailers across the country. Now it manages more than 400 active accounts, which include a contract with premium retailer City Beach.
CEO Darren Attard, who has been involved with the Jet Pilot brand for more than 20 years, says he remembers the early days when the business operated form 100 sqm of rented space. The business now owns a 2200 sqm site, just off the M1 at Helensvale, employing a staff of 25.
“During the past 14 years we have really grown Jet Pilot Australia, making it a very strong and powerful water sports brand,” says Attard, who used to race jet skis professionally for Australia.
“But what we have been doing in the meantime, coming from our core strengths, is developing clothing that really suits the action sports industry in general.
Capitalising on the growth of the brand, Jet Pilot Australia has expanded its offering through the launch of JPI Australia – a business that designs and manufactures clothing and apparel.
The move has already resonated with the likes of Monster Energy, Milwaukee, Toyo Tires, Honda, Sea-Doo and Yamaha, all of which have engaged JPI Australia for its services.
“Originally we came from jet skiing, then we moved into the wake boarding and water skiing market and then we wanted to expand our brand into greater pathways,” says Attard.
“Moving into clothing gave us the opportunity to be more attractive to more people. We are now into anything that is obscure. If you are into speed, racing, adrenaline and freestyle, then we are willing to be captivated by it.”
The Queensland Fire and Emergency Services fits into that category, although clearly at a different level of engagement.
“It was mainly about offering products that could really work well and function in the Queensland climate – it had to be able to function in humidity,” says Attard.
“The product we make is the uniform they wear in the office and also at the station. So when the fire alarm goes, that product still needs to be worn beneath their outerwear and beneath their structural firefighting gear, so it has to function.”
JPI Australia designed an exclusive performance fabric called Cool-Lite which features moisture-absorbing properties that allow sweat to be pulled off the body.
In addition, the clothing is designed to ensure the wearer feels relatively dry and comfortable at all times, while maintaining a wrinkle-free and presentable appearance.
JPI Australia is hoping to build relationships with all fire and rescue groups across Australia.
Attard attributes the growth of the company to toughness and innovation. He recalls a recent photo sent to him by V8 Supercar driver Rick Kelly showing a pair of Jet Pilot board shorts that were 10 years old. The Jack Daniels Nissan driver couldn’t believe they were still in good condition and that he was still wearing them.
“And I am thinking to myself, that is great Rick, but on the other hand I am wishing they had worn out so I could sell some more,” Attard chuckles.
“Our ‘built tough’ campaign, and putting out a quality product, sometimes doesn’t encourage new sales but it definitely encourages the quality of our label. As a company leader we try and instill that into our team about not cutting corners and creating a product that does last.
“There is a lot of fast fashion out there at the moment. You wash something once and it shrinks this way and that way, or the colour fastens – but we want to be really careful about what we put our brand name to.”
Jet Pilot Australia is currently focusing on expanding its digital and e-commerce operations, while also growing manufacturing opportunities.
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