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Volume 10 No. 22

People and Pop Culture

ANDREW GETTIG is the VP of int'l sales for Connor Sports, a U.S.-based manufacturer of sports courts and the provider of all six courts that will be used during the FIBA World Cup in Spain from Aug. 30-Sept. 14. Gettig joined Sport Court -- which merged with Connor Sports Floors in '05 -- in '91. The company has built indoor and outdoor basketball and volleyball courts, in addition to other playing surfaces, on all seven continents and in more than 140 countries and territories worldwide. Gettig was proud to note that his company even has an installation at a research station in the South Pole. Gettig spoke with SBD Global about the company's future goals, his love of Cleveland sports teams and how his experience in the Peace Corps helped launch his career.

On joining the company ...
Andrew Gettig
: I was a volleyball coach in the Peace Corps and then I went to graduate school at Ohio University. While there, I interned at the U.S. Olympic Committee and I put together a goodwill tour of professional athletes down to the Caribbean. The athletes were totally cool and were willing to pay their own way and do what they could to help, but they were concerned about playing on a concrete slab. Most of these countries didn't have any indoor facilities and they had no outdoor courts other than asphalt or concrete. So I contacted Sport Court because they had a relationship with USA Volleyball and they made outdoor courts. So I led this goodwill tour, and I helped sell the court to the prime minister of Saint Kitts and Sport Court offered me a job. So I finished grad school at Ohio University in 1991 and moved to Salt Lake to join Sport Court. Sport Court merged with Connor eight years ago, so that's how I came into this business. One thing leads to another. I was a Peace Corps volunteer and I actually read in Newsweek, the international edition of Newsweek had a new technologies section and they did a half-page profile on Sport Court and their outdoor courts. And I said, "Wow, that would really be something because a lot of the world needs safe courts to play on because they just play on outdoor slabs of concrete." So I joined the company, and 23 years later I’m Vice President.

On new projects ...
Gettig: We have a team of engineers whose focus is largely on developing the next generation of products. We have a product called Green Play. It's brilliant. It's a hybrid of our wood and synthetic floors. Some people said, "All things being equal, I'd like to buy a green floor." But they wouldn't buy a green floor if the ball didn't bounce on it or if it was less shock-absorbing or less safe than our other floors. We were able to create a product that featured the best of our synthetic and wood systems, that meets the highest international standards for shock absorption and performance.

On the company's emphasis on innovation ...
Gettig: Even now, it's not about, "Oh hey, we have the No. 1 product." If we just sat on that, then everyone would catch up and eventually find their own new products. We're already working on the next generations of indoor and outdoor products. ... It's a constant process of innovating and improving on what we have and it's part of our company's culture to innovate, to make safer and more shock-absorbing projects for our customers.

On growing Connor's int'l business ...
Gettig: We’re a North American-based manufacturer. We have two manufacturing facilities in land-locked states. We manufacture our wood products in northern Michigan. We manufacture our synthetic products in Utah. Those companies set out to be the best companies they could be. They were surrounded by the United States, they were American companies, that's primarily where we saw the opportunity in the business. Since 1999, it’s been my responsibility to develop our business outside the United States. I think prior to ’99, it was a much smaller priority for the companies. We were an American company selling American products to an American audience. If people contacted us from outside the United States, it was like found money. ... But we have for some time now been methodically approaching the international market, building our international distribution, building our international reputation. And it’s worked. What was a happy day when someone from outside the country called us up and sent us some money, now it’s a very significant part of our ongoing business.

On his favorite sports ...
Gettig: I grew up in Cleveland wrestling. That was my first sport. I wasn’t very good at it. In college, I went to Springfield College in Springfield, Mass., where I played on the men’s volleyball team. That led me to a position as a volleyball coach in the Peace Corps for two years in a small country called Saint Kitts. That was a phenomenal experience. People join the Peace Corps to put someone else first for two years, to put another country’s needs and interests first. You just can’t go from the richest, most powerful country in the world to one of the smallest and poorest without having a phenomenal experience yourself and a very impactful change of perspective on life and the world. I love playing volleyball, I love watching basketball and soccer. My family comes from Swansea in Wales. Swansea has a team in the English Premier League right now. I support Swansea and Real Salt Lake, our local Major League Soccer club here. Being from Cleveland, it’s a genetic thing, you have to support every Cleveland team. So I’m a fan of the [NBA] Cavs, the [NFL] Browns, the [MLB] Indians, and anybody else, even Drew Carey.

Lawyer FIONA DE JONG "has been appointed" as Australian Olympic Committee secretary general, "becoming the first woman to assume the role." De Jong, who assumes the role of chief administrative and financial officer, "has spent 10 years at the AOC" as its director of sport. De Jong "is a graduate of Harvard Business Schools Advanced Management Program." She replaces CRAIG PHILLIPS, "who resigned in June after 23 years with the AOC." De Jong "will start her new position" on Oct. 7 (THE AUSTRALIAN, 8/7). ... LUIS SEGURA "has been confirmed as president of the Argentine Football Association" until Oct. '15 following the death of JULIO GRONDONA. Segura, who has left his post as chairman of relegated Argentinos Juniors to take charge of the AFA, said that he would be talking with GERARDO MARTINO "to take over the national team" after World Cup coach ALEJANDRO SABELLA stood down (REUTERS, 8/6). ... PATRICE NEVEU "became the third coaching casualty since last weekend's African Nations Cup qualifiers after he was fired by Mauritania on Wednesday." Neveu had been coach since Feb. '12. His departure follows Sunday’s immediate sacking of ADEL AMROUCHE by Kenya after "they were dumped out of the competition" and Wednesday’s announcement by Zimbabwe coach IAN GOROWA that "he is to depart his job" (REUTERS, 8/6).

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Ex-Chelsea and Leeds United Owner KEN BATES "may have helped a young boy's dreams come true" after donating £10,000 ($16,800) to pay for life-changing surgery. LEO STOTT, who has cerebral palsy and cannot walk unaided, "has always wanted to play football without a walking frame." Hundreds of people "donated money to pay for him to have a life-changing operation," with Bates pledging a sizeable chunk of the £45,000 ($75,700) needed (London DAILY MAIL, 8/7). ... Former ManU player PAUL SCHOLES will write exclusively for The Independent, and its sister paper i, throughout the new football season. The former midfielder will give his opinions each week -- and, "in true Scholes style," has promised to pull no punches (London INDEPENDENT). ... Former Tour de France winner BRADLEY WIGGINS "will return to the road after his Commonwealth Games track exploits in the elite Prudential Ride London-Surrey Classic on Sunday" (REUTERS, 8/7). ... Pictures of Super Rugby side Crusaders players on a hunting trip in South Africa "are being used by an environmental organisation in its fight against what it calls canned, or joyride, hunting." The "players shown in the four pictures posted by the Landmark Foundation on its Facebook page" were TOM TAYLOR, GEORGE and SAM WHITELOCK, BEN FUNNELL and TYLER BLEYENDAAL. In each picture, one or more of the players "was posing beside a dead animal." Foundation Dir BOOL SMUTS said that "none of the animals involved were endangered and he expected the hunting was legal." But his foundation was "against the whole concept of trophy hunting" (SYDNEY MORNING HERALD, 8/7). ... Spanish Basketball League (ACB) side Laboral Kutxa reached an agreement for its coach, SERGIO SCARIOLO, to leave the club. His successor will be MARCO CRESPI, "who will sign a one-year deal with an option for an additional season based on the club's results during his first year" (AS, 8/7).

Reuters' BRIAN HOMEWOOD: "I think I enjoy these Champions League qualifiers more than the group stage itself."

Australian Financial Review's JOHN STENSHOLT: "hope there's a big crowd for the Juventus match in Sydney on Sunday night. I'll be interested to see how it rates on free-to-air TV"

Bayern Munich's THOMAS MÜLLER: "Back in Munich. It was an interesting experience to travel in the US, play football und sleep twice in the airplane."

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