By Patrick Avenell

PERTH, WA: Garmin’s local sales and marketing manager has just returned from a visit back to the head office in the United States. The bigwigs are particularly happy about two things: the performance of the local office, and the performance of the Garmin team in the Tour de France.

Matt de Moss, who came to Australia last March to set up a dedicated Garmin office, is currently in Perth meeting reps and dealers, and took time out to speak to about what the GPS specialists are currently up to.

“I like to get out and actually talk to our dealers and talk to the people at the store level and see what our reps face on a day-in day-out basis, so it’s really more of an education experience for me, then we can go back and take that knowledge and make informed, sound decisions in the office,” he said.

De Moss further reported that the head office has been pleased with how the dedicated Australian branch has performed since it opened last July. There had been some nervous moments with de Moss only provided a short timeframe to set up the office, but having met this deadline, Garmin head office has been contented.

“There was maybe a little doubt that we’d hit the date, which we did, and then I think they’re surprised at how quickly we’ve actually made a difference and an impact. All in all, it was positive and they’re pleased,” he said.

Whilst in Perth, de Moss is meeting with his sales reps and the dealers and retailers selling Garmin products to consumers. We asked what the feedback from the retailers had been.

“Positive, really positive. I think that a lot of the retailers have definitely seen a noticeable difference since we’ve arrived in our own right last July: our market share has more than doubled since we took over.

“There were a lot of retailers who weren’t getting regular visits from Garmin representatives through our old distributors; now every one of our reps in all states has a regular call cycle.”

As for the Tour de France, de Moss said that whilst he hasn’t always been an avid cycling fan, he has been seduced by the grandeur of cycling big dance. Unsurprisingly, considering his allegiances, he’s been following Britain’s Bradley Wiggons and compatriot Christian Vande Velde closely.

“It’s an exciting sport. At first I was curious: was this strictly a branding effort? I’ve come to find out that the team we’re involved in is quite competitive, and last year we had a rider who finished in the top five.

“This year we’ve got a few riders who are making some noise. Wiggins made a run in the mountains the other day where he was right behind Contador. Vande Velde’s a little bit down compared to last year, but he’s also battling a little bit of an injury.”

De Moss said that whilst sponsoring the Garmin-Slipstream team was originally targeted at potential users of Garmin’s fitness and cycling range, the sheer magnitude of the race, which is being broadcast live around the globe, means that it’s done wonders for the brand’s exposure in all markets.

Garmin-Slipstream’s top ranked rider is currently the third placed Bradley Wiggins, who is 1’46” behind Alberto Contador. Christian Vande Velde is in tenth spot, 3’59” behind the leader.