Tees Sport are one of the UK's top table tennis equipment suppliers.
Find out more about them in this exclusive interview.
Tees Sport are the most well known table tennis equipment supplier in the United Kingdom.
They started in 1976 and are still going strong today.
Their Managing Director is Alan Ransome O.B.E., who has been involved in table tennis for many years, first as a player and now as an administrator.
Alan has a vast knowledge of table tennis and has served for many years on Local, National, Commonwealth, European, International and Olympic committees.
In 2011 I caught up with Alan and managed to ask him a few questions about Tees Sport.
Thanks for sharing your time with me here at All About Table Tennis.com
Q. Please tell us about the history of Tees Sport.
A. In 1976 I realised that there was an opportunity
to offer a specialist table tennis service for players and clubs within the United Kingdom.
Similar services were operational in Germany at that time and as I'd been working in the table tennis trade for about 6 years, I had all the contacts to secure the equipment supply.
I'd also started working with Butterfly as a consultant around this time.
There was clearly a very good opportunity.
I asked Nicky Jarvis to join me in forming the company and started Tees Sport from there.
We were the first to have a mail order catalogue and immediately built up a large market share which we've been able to maintain ever since, despite several companies entering the market.
Nicky, who was a minority shareholder, left Tees Sport around 1982/83 and ever since his departure I've held 100% of the shares.
Q. Please tell us about your table tennis expertise and what Tees Sport can offer to customers.
A. In the early days of Tees Sport, Nicky and I were
both high level players and coaches.
Nicky was an England No 1, playing for England many times, and I was a top national player having represented England at senior and junior level and one time reached the semi final of the English Closed.
Also, we were both members of the Ormesby team that had a strong presence in England at that time, so we always offered advice about table tennis equipment to our customers.
And because we have direct access to the leading manufacturers and test a lot of the equipment ourselves, we have the expertise and information available to assist customers.
This tradition of table tennis expertise continues today with our current staff. They are...
Michael Marsden (Manager). Michael is number 13 on the England Men's ranking list and is the captain of the Ormesby team in the Premier Division of the British League. He also plays in the Swedish League and is a qualified coach.
Our customer service team of Alex Garlick and Danny Welsh (both of whom are British League players) and Maureen Morrison who has been with the company, except for a short time when she was raising her family, since 1979. Maureen is a former England ranked junior and a local league player.
John Miller is our Tournament Manager and George Picken is our Print Manager. Both John and George are very experienced local league players.
David Hutchinson is our Accountant. David is the County Secretary for Cleveland and a tournament referee. He plays regularly in the local league.
Michael Jevons is in charge of our Tees Sport warehouse and does much of the driving in taking the equipment to the various tournaments.
Nicky Skipp is also in the warehouse and Nicky is also a former England ranked junior and local league player.
Q. Can you tell us who your table tennis products are aimed at? Are they just for serious players or are they for everyone?
A. Our product range covers all the table tennis market.
Our priority is to supply rubbers, blades, clothing and shoes for the serious players; and tables, balls, scoring machines and barriers etc for tournaments and clubs.
However, we have equipment available for all standards and for all types of facilities including clubs, schools, leisure centres, outdoor parks etc.
Q. Please tell us about the brands of table tennis equipment you offer and why you offer those particular brands.
A. The main brand that we market is Butterfly.
I've worked with Butterfly for more than 30 years and have taken advantage of the top quality equipment that's produced in Japan by Butterfly in terms of blades, rubbers, rackets etc.
I've also worked with Butterfly to produce a wider range of products including clothing, and a range of tables to meet all requirements.
At Tees Sport our policy has always been to ensure that we offer the product the customer wants to buy and have it available from stock, so we also have good contacts and arrangements with Donic, Andro, Stiga, Joola, TSP, Dr.Neubauer and a number of other manufacturers.
Our policy is to have all the products in stock all of the time and to ship orders on the same day that we receive them - providing that it's sufficiently early in the afternoon to make the carriers' collection.
With the exception of the concrete tables, all the other equipment in our catalogue is stocked in our warehouses in Middlesbrough and shipped to our customers from there.
Q. Can you give us an insight into your relationships with the table tennis equipment manufacturers?
A. We have an excellent relationship with our suppliers.
I have visited the majority of them - not just their offices but also their factories. We meet with them on a regular basis and are in contact frequently.
The fact that we have such close relationships with our suppliers clearly gives us a major edge over the competition and provides us with a chance to produce new products which are suitable for the market.
Q. Where are you located and what areas do you serve? How can customers contact Tees Sport?
A. We are based in central Middlesbrough in the North East
of England and we serve the whole of the United Kingdom and Ireland, including all of the offshore islands.
Customers can contact us in many ways.
We have a retail counter at our premises in Zetland Place which is open from 8.30am until 5.30pm Monday to Friday, and from 9.00am until 12.00 noon on a Saturday.
We value all orders and are grateful to receive them. So whether they come by telephone, email, fax, internet, personal visit or at one of our tournament stands, we are more than happy to receive them.
We have a 24 hour answering service when the office is closed.
Q. Please tell us about your web site.
A. We introduced our
Tees Sport website
around 10 years ago.
We were by far the first company in the UK to have a table tennis specific equipment website and we update it on a very regular basis.
It has the full range of our products and is very well used by our customers.
We also have our own newsletter and we regard the web site as an important part of the business.
Q. How do you promote / advertise your business?
A. We have a very wide promotional programme and
been the biggest trade supporter of British table tennis over the last 30 years without any doubt.
We support, and provide Butterfly equipment for, most of the major championships in the UK and these include:
We also support the English and Scottish National Championships (junior and senior) as well as
the ETTA (now known as Table Tennis England) Grand Prix, British League, County Championships, all English schools events, all Scottish events and VETTS tournaments.
We also supply a large number of local tournaments at no charge for the tables - just a contribution towards our transportation costs.
We attend a very large number of table tennis events - over 50 every year.
Amongst the players who we support, or have supported, and who use Butterfly equipment are:
|Men||Paul Drinkhall, Liam Pitchford, Danny Reed, Chris Doran, Matthew Ware, Damien Nicholls, Gareth Herbert, David Meads, Michael Marsden, Richard Andrews, Craig Bryant, Tim Yarnall, Will Maybanks, Alan Cooke, Matthew Syed, Alex Perry, Will Bailey.|
|Juniors Boys||Zak Zilesnik, Sean Cullen, Igor Morais, Daniel Lowe, Helashan Weerasinghe, Paul Smith, Sam Mabey.|
|Women||Joanne Parker, Kelly Sibley, Hannah Hicks, Karina Lefevre, Lauren Spink, Emily Bates, Yolanda King, Chloe Whyte, Mary Fuller.|
|Junior Girls||Tressa Armitage, Lucy Davidson, Jessica Dawson, Emma Torkington.|
|Men||Adam Robertson, Ryan Jenkins, Steven Jenkins, Patrick Thomas.|
|Women||Charlotte Carey, Megan Phillips, Angaharad Phillips.|
|Men||Craig Hardy, Craig Howieson, Neil Cameron, Christopher Wheeler.|
|Women||Corinna Whitaker, Natasha Milliken.|
|Men||Paul McCreary, Ashley Robinson.|
Many former greats have also used Butterfly, including:
Denis Neale, Des Douglas, Chen Xin Hua, Trevor Taylor, Dougie Johnson, Jill Hammersley-Parker, Carole Knight-Moore, Lisa Lomas, Alison Gordon-Brae, Andrea Holt and Nicola Deaton.
Amongst the leading clubs we support are:
Colin Deaton TTC, Chesterfield, Dewsbury TTC, Drumchapel Glasgow, Halton, Kingfisher Reading, Grantham Tornadoes, Morpeth Greenhouse, OLOP Reading, Ormesby, St Mary's Hull, Sycamore Nottingham.
We also advertise through the English, Scottish and Irish publications and online through websites, including the English, Scottish and Irish websites and many local leagues and clubs.
Q. Can you give us an insight into the scale of operation of Tees Sport?
A. Tees Sport is only one part of my business.
The other side, Ransome Sporting Goods, deals with sales into the sports trade and in particular the major sports retailers both in the High Street and online, plus the department stores and multiple retailers and the educational wholesalers who supply the schools.
Tees Sport is the specialist arm of the business and only sells table tennis equipment. It's always been that way, and will remain so. We specialise in table tennis and are pleased to do so.
We are big enough to provide a first class service all year round but we are also small enough to provide a personal service to our customers and for them to establish personal relations with our people.
We generally have enough stock to supply 3 months demand.
We only close on Sundays and bank holidays and even then our people are often manning stands at table tennis events somewhere in the country.
We care about table tennis and about our customers and hope that this comes through in everything we do.
Thank you Alan.