Great White Shark Enterprises, Inc.
Great White Shark Enterprises, Inc.
Sales: $300 million (2006 est.)
NAIC: 315223 Men’s and Boys’ Cut and Sew Shirt (Except Work Shirt) Manufacturing; 315232 Women’s and Girls’ Cut and Sew Blouse and Shirt Manufacturing; 315991 Hat, Cap, and Millinery Manufacturing; 551112 Offices of Other Holding Companies; 713990 All Other Amusement and Recreation Industries
Great White Shark Enterprises, Inc. (GWSE), is the holding company for Greg Norman’s business ventures. Norman used his professional golfing career as a launching point for establishing a presence in a number of areas related to golfing and, later, the associated lifestyle. These businesses include golf course design, real estate development, turf farming, golf and lifestyle apparel, hats, beef, wine, and restaurants. Through GWSE, Norman has assembled a wide-ranging yet interconnected constellation of businesses whose influence extends far beyond the green.
Greg Norman is not the first golfer to launch a business empire, but he is arguably among the most successful.Precedents include the golf course design ventures of Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus. The latter’s Golden Bear Golf went public in 1996.
Norman had been endorsing Australian brands such as Qantas since his professional career began in the mid-1970s. He caught the attention of the golfing world with a stunning performance at the 1983 Masters in Augusta, Georgia. Extracurricular activities such as scuba diving, yachting, buying business jets, and flying helicopters stoked his reputation for exuberant living.His exploits on and off the course landed him the nickname the “Great White Shark.” He impressed many with his poise and sportsmanship after he notoriously squandered a six-stroke lead at the 1996 Masters.
Norman’s success in the golfing world opened some useful doors. The sport is known as a conduit for networking, and Norman gleaned advice from some of the world’s leading titans of enterprise, notably Australian media mogul Kerry Packer.
Norman began to consult on the design of golf courses, beginning with one on the Hawaiian island of Lanai. Around 1988, he created Greg Norman Golf Course Design (GNGCD) as a joint venture with the Australian unit of International Management Group (IMG), which was representing him at the time.
After some initial success in Australia, the business went on to projects in Asia as the global market for golf course design experienced a period of rapid growth. In 1994 Norman began work on his first U.S. course, Medalist Golf Club in Hobe Sound, Florida. Like many of his business arrangements, it was done in partnership with local developers.
In the late 1990s, GWSE launched a development joint venture with Australia’s Macquarie Bank Ltd. called Australian Medallist Golf Developments. The aim was to build golf-themed residential communities beyond traditional resort locations, an idea that had not caught on in Australia, according to Norman.
The company later formed a joint venture with Troon Golf of Scottsdale, Arizona, to handle management of the courses in Australia and Asia. Medallist had become active in the U.S. market within a couple of years. GNGCD began consulting on projects in Dubai, the fast-growing oasis of luxury trade on the Arabian Peninsula and in 2004 opened an office there.
GWSE later launched the Greg Norman Turf Company as a spinoff of the work in golf course development and design. Its hybrid Bermuda grass and zoysia was originally grown in Australia and at the turf company’s farm in Avon Park, Florida; production was also licensed to a number of U.S. growers. Some of the first variety, GN-1, was grown into a synthetic backing for use at the Super Bowl.
Norman invested in Cobra, a golf club manufacturer, as part of a 1990 endorsement deal. The Fortune Brands, Inc., holding company later bought Cobra, adding it to the portfolio of golf brands owned by its Acushnet unit. This brought Norman not only a huge return on his holding but the opportunity for another venture.
Norman promptly attained rights to distribute Acushnet products in Australia and much of Asia. He then bought out Cobra Golf Australia and renamed it International Brands. It soon became the largest golf distributor down under, adding Reebok golf shoes to its portfolio of brands and creating its own line of clubs dubbed Shark and Tiburon. As Norman recalled in an autobiography, the relationship with Acushnet eventually soured, and he sold the distribution business to the conglomerate.
An early version of Norman’s shark logo appeared in a number of licensed product lines in the early 1990s. These included golf shoes made by Niblick, wool sweaters by another Australian manufacturer, and hats produced by Akubra.
Reebok, whose golf apparel Norman had been endorsing since the late 1980s, also brought out a signature line branded with the shark logo. The Greg Norman Collection soon brought out other products, such as a straw hat for sale outside the Australian market. Revenues were up to $15 million in 1991.
The shark logo had to be restyled, and a hefty settlement paid, to satisfy potential trademark infringement issues with Paul & Shark owner Dama, a privately held Italian apparel company. The settlement required the Greg Norman shark to point left, and retain the use of four colors to avoid confusion with the one-color Dama shark. GWSE also agreed not to market its clothing in the Duma strongholds of Italy, Spain, and Taiwan.
Norman eventually persuaded Reebok to make the Greg Norman Collection an autonomous division. Norman ended his relationship with IMG in November 1993. He recruited IMG staffer Frank Williams to oversee GWSE’s daily operations. Another IMG veteran, Bart Collins, was later hired to head operations in Australia and succeeded Williams as company president after his retirement.
Clothing revenues peaked at $78 million in 1997, Norman reported in an autobiography. An expansion into major department store chains soon ran into intense competition, sometimes from private labels. Clothing revenues fell to less than $50 million by 2002. GWSE focused on the golf pro shops in its bid to rectify diminishing apparel sales, and the apparel business promptly recovered. A line of clothing for female golfers debuted in 2003. An exclusive “Signature Series” followed a couple of years later.
According to Golf World Business, GWSE had revenues of $175 million by 2000; there were 105 employees. Other sources estimated revenues at $142 million to $150 million. By this time, Norman’s income from his business ventures far exceeded his professional tour earnings, validating his plans for a successful career beyond golf.
Great White Shark Enterprises is a multinational corporation headed by Greg Norman with offices in Jupiter, Fla., and Sydney, Australia. The company’s interests are primarily focused around golf and the golf lifestyle.
The adidas Group acquired the Greg Norman Collection through its purchase of Reebok. MacGregor Golf
Company bought most of the Collection in November 2006.
GWSE entered the wine-making business through an unincorporated partnership with Australia’s Mildara Blass, part of Foster’s Group, called GN Wines. Out-back Steakhouse, the U.S. chain of Aussie-themed restaurants, was an important early customer of the product, marketed under the Greg Norman Estates label. A Japan launch followed a few months after the U.S. debut. With this venture, the name was successfully extended beyond sports into the realm of pure lifestyle brands. Within a couple of years, Greg Norman Estates was shipping 120,000 cases of premium wine a year. Sales exceeded 230,000 cases in 2003. GWSE then took the audacious step of developing a California wine label.
Norman continued to add new products through joint ventures. Greg Norman’s Australian Grille was getting off the ground in 2001. A partnership with the Australian Agricultural Company was launched in 2005 to bring Aussie beef to the U.S. restaurant market under the label Greg Norman Australian Prime.
Greg Norman’s autobiography described his empire as a $300 million business in 2006. There were more than 200 employees. No longer a part of the team was Norman’s wife of 20 years, Laura, since the couple was divorcing.
There were other ventures, some less successful than others. A line of branded pasta sauces hit Aussie grocery stores in the late 1990s. In 1999, GWSE’s Shark.com web site debuted, produced by Greg Norman Interactive, LLC, a joint venture with the LibertyOne group’s Digital Rights International.
There was also Greg Norman Production Company, an events management venture. Around 2001 Norman began working on a signature line of very high-end luxury yachts in cooperation with Oceanfast of Perth, Australia. In 2003 GWSE invested in Inforetech Wireless Technology Inc. after earlier becoming a customer for its golf course–related GPS and wireless data systems.
Frederick C. Ingram
Greg Norman Australian Prime; Greg Norman Collection; Greg Norman Estates; Greg Norman Estates California; Greg Norman Golf Course Design; Greg Norman Interactive, L.L.C.; Greg Norman Production Company; Greg Norman Turf Company; Greg Norman’s Australian Grille.
- Greg Norman incorporates Great White Shark Enterprises to provide income apart from the golf tour.
- Greg Norman begins designing golf courses.
- An early version of Norman’s shark logo appears on clothing and footwear lines produced by other manufacturers.
- Norman ends relationship with International Management Group (IMG).
- Greg Norman Collection of clothing appears in department stores.
- Greg Norman Estates begins selling wines;Greg Norman Interactive online joint venture is launched.
- Revenues are $300 million.
Burke, Monte, “Norman’s Conquest,” Forbes, April 16, 2001,p. 316.
“The Business of Being the Shark,” interview, Golf World Business, May 2000, p. 40.
Crawford, Kate, “Great White Shark Netted,” Sydney Morning Herald, August 3, 1999, p. 24.
D’Cruz, Neville, “Malaysian in A$240-Million Golf Deal with Greg Norman,” Bernama Daily Malaysian News, November 30, 1999.
“Golfer Greg Norman Is a Business Pro, Too,” Houston Chronicle, Bus. Sec., March 12, 2000, p. 2.
“Greg Norman Launches Premium Wine Venture in Australia,” Agence France-Presse, January 11, 2000.
Kennedy, John H., “A Bite Out of the ‘Shark’; Golf Haberdasher Claims the Name,” Boston Globe, Economy Sec., August 28, 1993, p. 29.
Lally, Connor, “Great White Shark Moves to the Top of a Different Leaderboard,” Irish Times, September 28, 2001,p. 54.
“Macquarie, Greg Norman in International Golf Course J/V,” Australian Associated Press, July 8, 1998.
Norman, Greg, and Donald T. Phillips, The Way of the Shark: Lessons on Golf, Business and Life, New York: Atria, 2006.
Pitock, Todd, “Shark Tale,” Forbes.com, September 18, 2006.
Ramsey, Tom, and Bernie McGuire, “Greg Norman Inc.: Great White Shark Stakes Out New Turf,” Daily Telegraph (Australia), April 7, 1997, p. 28.
St. John, Lauren, Shark: The Biography of Greg Norman, Nashville, Tenn.: Rutledge Hill Press, 1998.
Waresh, Julie, “The Tough Turf Test; Golfer’s Firm Plants ‘Secret’ Sod for Super Bowl,” Palm Beach Post, February 3, 1999, p. 1F.
Witsil, Frank, “Golfer Sued for $14 Million in Florida,” Augusta Chronicle, April 5, 2000, p. A11.