Industry Powerhouse: Gina Wills - Building Business Her Way


AFTER 20 YEARS IN THE MOTOR INDUSTRY, GINA FELT IT WAS TIME FOR A CHANGE. CYCLING HAS ALWAYS BEEN A HUGE PASSION OF HERS AND SHE HAS BEEN RIDING A BIKE FOR AS LONG AS SHE CAN REMEMBER. "I ALWAYS WANTED TO BE ABLE TO MARRY MY PASSION WITH MY JOB, SO WHEN THE OPPORTUNITY TO PURCHASE CYCLES DIRECT CAME ABOUT, I JUMPED AT THE CHANCE."

Gina Wills is the owner operator of Cycles Direct in Cape Town South Africa. Gina is the only female Specialized Elite store owner and the shop is the highest performing, female-owned store in the province. We sat down with Gina to find out more about this dynamic business woman and cyclist.

How long have you been in the bicycle business? 6 months! Haha.

Do you come from a cycling background? Yes, I have been riding a bike since early childhood. I purchased my first road bike about 16 years ago in order to ride with my colleagues at work. The bug bit hard! Now I partake both in road events and MTB marathon events. Loving the trails at the moment.

How did CYCLES Direct come about? The store was opened 13 years ago by Gary Ing and has grown from strength to strength over the years. I was a customer when one day, I casually asked Gary if he would sell the business. Not sure if it was a case of being in the right place at the right time or the universe conspiring in my favor but much to my surprise, he said yes! The rest is history.

Do you consider this your dream job? Absolutely!

What is your greatest success story? I believe that success is measured at the end of your life. The way in which we treat people, live our lives and the choices we make daily all contribute to the measure of a successful life.

What kind of changes have you witnessed in your years in the bike and service industry? Technology advances so quickly these days, you have to keep up with the pace. Whether it’s cars or bikes, there is always something newer, cooler, better and faster! The world is also a smaller place thanks to the internet, television and social media. Consumers have a far greater access to the latest technological advancements than ever before and they expect you, as a retailer to be up to date with that.

How has being a woman, if at all, impacted or influenced business with both suppliers and customers? Do you think women are treated differently in this industry? Absolutely - particularly in an industry that is male dominated. It hasn’t always been an easy journey. However, at the end of the day, I believe that it's results that speak the loudest. If you are doing your job, whether you are male or female, you deserve to be rewarded for your successes.

What type of vibe do you consider CYCLES direct to have as a leading shop in the Western Cape? What makes you guys different? We have a friendly, fun and enthusiastic staff force that are always willing to go the extra mile to help someone out. A lot of our customers and their families have been with the store for years, so this speaks volumes about the loyalty people have with the store. As far as the team goes…there is never a dull moment to be had working here.

Of all the brands, components and accessories that you carry, what are the companies that you see making big advancements in technologies and consider to be on the cutting edge in the MTB arena? As I mentioned above, these days technology advances so quickly. Bicycle manufacturers compete daily to bring out the latest and greatest innovations. I would have to say though, that I really like what Specialized Bicycles do. The time, money and effort they spend on research and development is hard for other brands to top. They make an excellent quality product and really think about absolutely everything. It's all about the bike, the ride and the rider.

Any advice for female entrepreneurs in the cycling industry, or those looking to start a business? #JUSTDOIT

Tell us more about your cycling club and female clinics you run regularly. CYCLES Direct Cycling Club is based here in Blouberg. We offer regular rides, both on the road and trails catering for all levels of fitness and abilities. We have noticed that there is a lack of skill on the mountain biking side of things, so we decided to take charge and host some skills development days. We decided to host some skills days together with Jo Dobinson from Biking In The Bosch. She is a wonderful person and her passion and enthusiasm for the sport really exude through her coaching, instilling confidence into even the most nervous of riders. The days are a huge success especially amongst the women and as a result. we are seeing more and more women joining us on the trails.

How important are these sessions for female riders and what are your thoughts on women's MTB ? Extremely important. For some reason a lot of women have far less confidence when they hit the dirt trails, even the most experienced of female road riders sometimes lose their nerve on the trails. I believe that we are starting to see a greater push for the development of women's MTB and it’s excellent that it is happening.

If you could give a female riders some advice, what would that be? Rubber Side Down!!! And don’t let the boys overtake you...

Any plans for expanding your business? What's next for CYCLES direct? Yes definitely. The plan is always to grow and expand. There is a bigger premises for us in the pipeline but I can’t say too much just yet. It’s going to happen soon though. Keep your eyes peeled!

Give Cycles Direct a visit today and support local female business.

Facebook: @cyclesdirectbikes/ Twitter: @CyclesDirect www.cyclesdirect.co.za Call: 021 554 2128 Shop 04 The Lifestyle Centre Sandown Road Sunningdale 7441

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+27 833759782

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