McGregor and Furby set to drive global expansion for Gara Duo’s paddle power

2016-08-09 06:00
Six-time Marathon World Champion, Hank McGregor (left) and successful local businessman, Lee Furby have joined forces with Ken and Sharon Holden to expand Gara Racing Paddles' reach into international markets. Photo: supplied

Six-time Marathon World Champion, Hank McGregor (left) and successful local businessman, Lee Furby have joined forces with Ken and Sharon Holden to expand Gara Racing Paddles' reach into international markets. Photo: supplied

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THE globally respected, Durban-based paddle manufacturer Gara Racing Paddles is poised for an exciting international expansion after teaming up with successful local businessman Lee Furby and six-time Marathon World Champion Hank McGregor.
Based outside Hillcrest, the specialist canoeing paddle manufacturer was an offshoot of the industry leading Kayak Centre, driven by passionate paddler and composite expert Ken Holden.
Gara’s range of GP paddles has quickly developed a following in many major canoeing countries worldwide and, seeking to expand their global footprint, Ken and his wife, Sharon, have joined forces with Furby and South Africa’s most successful paddler ever and long-time Gara ambassador McGregor.
“We’ve developed an incredibly strong following locally, with most of the country’s top paddlers using our product,” says Holden.
“Now we’re very excited to look to expand our following abroad, particularly in the marathon and sprint markets,” he adds.
With Furby’s assumption of responsibility of Gara’s business and financial matters and McGregor’s focus on the brand’s promotion and sales, Holden is now afforded the opportunity to channel his wealth of manufacturing and development experience into the business while Sharon handles the business’ daily operations.
“Lee is an incredibly successful businessman while you simply cannot put a price tag on Hank’s reputation as an athlete and the unbelievable experience he has built up throughout his illustrious career.
“Their involvement, together with me now being able to focus purely on what I’m good at – the development and manufacturing side of things – while Sharon continues to handle the day-to-day operations, is really going to make a massive difference in our ability to stay ahead of everyone else in the market throughout the world,” says Holden.
The quartet’s long-standing relationships also played a major role in the emergence of the new partnership, something all four continue to place great emphasis on as they start this new venture together.
“Hank and I have been mates for years, we live 500 metres away from each other as the crow flies, we train and travel together and our wives even run together,” says Furby.
“So going into business with one another just seemed like a logical extension of all that and it’s great to have the chance to work on something together that we’re both passionate about.
“When I started paddling five years ago, the first paddle I ever bought was a Gara and since then I’ve become one of their most regular customers and have got to know Ken and Sharon very well,” he adds.
McGregor echoes Furby’s sentiments. “I’ve been involved with Gara from the beginning and it’s great to now take my racing relationship with them and expand it into a business venture.”
“This is something new for me but it is great to be involved in something like this with like-minded people who are also really good friends of mine.
“We’ve all got our various strengths that we bring to the table and together I think we form a really solid team.”
While Gara will continue to service the local market as well as it has since its emergence on the South African paddling scene, the development of new products is also on the horizon for the new partnership.
Gara Racing Paddles celebrate the announcement of their new partnership through their title sponsorship of the upcoming Gara Dolphin Coast Challenge – a two day surfski race on KwaZulu-Natal’s North Coast which takes place on Saturday 20 and Sunday 21 August.

- Supplied

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