100 years and five generations of the Gibbon family lies behind the Gibbon Group of today – a national wholesale distributor of best-in-category commercial carpets, along with superior flooring installation accessories for the flooring trade. Ainsley Gibbon, the fourth generation, manages the group today while her two daughters Georgia and Celia are actively involved.
For the Gibbon family, business has always been about relationships, being ethical and finding synergies. Gibbon Group today is a radically different business from its start in 1920. The one constant has been the importance of client, employee and supplier relationships – a factor Ainsley believes has been vital to the business’ success.
“There’s a sense of immediacy in doing business today and yet our aim is to find ways to increase engagement with the client - not always be face-to-face - and even more so now with COVID. To be responsive both digitally and personally and to make the experience seamless is the constant driver,” she says.
“It’s also a completely different way to engage with people in the age of social media,” she says. “It has changed the business visibility where people are now able to create their own platform of engagement with their audience.”
The Group’s association with ANZ is no exception. Gibbon Group has banked with ANZ for the past 100 years. “Our relationship with our bank has been critical over the years and is key to our longevity,” says Ainsley. “We’ve had the support of ANZ for our entire history.”
According to ANZ Relationship Manager Beverley Crosby “it’s really satisfying to partner with clients like Gibbon Group to support their changing needs over the years. 100 years with the bank is a testament to their great business, their loyalty and a great working partnership”.
With firsthand experience Ainsley says small businesses look to their bank to be with them through the ups and downs. “ANZ has supported us even through difficult times. We appreciate it when they lend an ear and give credible reasons why particular decisions are made, which they have done for us over the years,” she says.
It’s no surprise, Ainsley says, the biggest changes she’s seen with her bank have taken place in light of technology. “My father and grandfather spent a lot of time face-to-face with their banker but things are different now in light of technology, given so much of what we do is online and digital.”
Technology has also had an impact on the way their clients like to receive information. Ainsley believes while technology has made it easier to engage at scale, the digital space creates a different language and we needed to find different ways to form alignments. The aim is that clients will align with your purpose through these platforms and what you stand for as a brand.
Environmental sustainability – a core philosophy
Ainsley’s passion isn’t limited to flooring design – for more than 20 years she has seen and participated in the rise in support for environmental sustainability. “We were one of the first flooring companies to be a member of the Green Building Council,” she says.
Ainsley sees the architectural/design industry at the forefront of innovation in sustainable design which now has a much broader scope beyond the fundamental elements of building design. Corporate clients are more aware of the environmental and health impacts their building - and the actions of their company - can have on a sustainable future. The Gibbon Group actively tries to keep abreast of this developing discourse, where environmental sustainability and representing sustainable products, is the core philosophy driving the business to this day.
Looking back – Gibbon Group’s story
The company – originally C&HW Gibbon - was founded by Charles & Harold W. Gibbon as Wholesale Leather Merchants in 1920, surviving the Great Depression and WWII, only to find the removal of tariffs on Australian made leather goods in the 60s meant they needed to look elsewhere fast or not survive! The entrepreneurial thinking of grandson, Gwynn Gibbon, who started with the company after WWII that took the company into new territory – flooring.
Introducing vinyl flooring, tufted carpets, wallpapers and rugs to Queensland carpet retailers, Gwynn also established a flooring installation trade depot - and C & HW Gibbon was on a new journey. With longstanding loyal employees, the company grew rapidly, servicing retailers around Queensland and northern New South Wales.
Gwynn and his team established strong client relationships (and friendships) which continued after his death in 1975 when Nigel Cutmore, his loyal 2IC and shareholder, ran the business until the late 1980s, when the company was rebranded to Gibbon Group - moving to Brendale, a far cry from its early days on the top floor of Wilson House, Charlotte Street, Brisbane.