There are more than 800 players in the AFL, but none quite like Nathan Grima. The North Melbourne defender’s business away from footy is a direct reflection of that fact. The 28-year-old rarely gets forward of centre on the playing field – but like his personality, his chosen business venture is best described as a bit left of centre.
While other players are running fashion labels or opening pubs, cafes or restaurants, Grima has started a business that specialises in artificial turf.
It all began a year ago, when he was getting some artificial turf installed in his own backyard.
“As they were doing my yard, and I was giving them a bit of a hand, they explained to me what they did and how long they’d been doing it and what sort of profit was involved,” Grima recalls.
“One of the guys was in a position where he’d been working with the same bloke for seven years and was keen to go and do his own thing. We thought if we put our heads together we might be able to come up with something – it was a good match and the first 12 months have been pretty productive for us.”
A year on from that first discussion, Grima’s business Endless Turf is shaping up well.
“We had four jobs last week,” Grima says.
“We’ve got some other jobs, trying to get into some more commercial things as well like bars and outdoor corporate areas. The big ticket items in this area are doing schoolyards and soccer pitches and that sort of thing – but we’re nowhere near that stage just yet.”
At the moment, the majority of their work is residential.
“Whether it’s big or small – so one day you might be putting it on someone’s balcony and then the next you’ll be out in Dandenong doing a big backyard,” Grima says.
“If there are other people doing the same thing, you’ve just got to do it better” – Nathan Grima
“No job’s too big or small, because we’re just starting out and are starting to grow our brand. As with any business, you’ve got to build your brand and your profile because if a customer’s forking out money they want to know you can do the job. I guess the only way you can do that is by experience and building a good reputation.”
While Grima’s business partner carries out most of the hands-on work, the Kangaroos’ defender takes care of the business side.
“Just with my body, and my back and football, it’s a bit hard to do a lot of hands-on stuff, but I try to get out to as many jobs as I can or do as many quotes as I can,” he explains.
“I want people to know that, not only am I sort of publicising the fact that I’m in a company, but I actually believe in what we’re doing. It’s good to stay involved as much as I can.
“When I’ve got a little bit more time on my hands I work with the accountant. I do a lot of the office stuff, but I also get out on job sites so I understand what’s going on, so that if I get asked to do a quote I know what I’m talking about.”
Thankfully for all involved, the laid-back Kangaroo who loves a joke knows exactly what he’s talking about when it comes to business – in part due to a Diploma in Business Management, which he completed through North Melbourne two years ago.
“A lot of guys took it up,” Grima recalls.
“Having completed that course over a two year period there are definitely things I learnt that I use in day to day life. But as with anything, you obviously learn a lot more on the job.”
While he’s learning from his experiences over time, he’s also finding that a simple approach is often the best. Just like with footy, hard work is the key.
“You’ve got to be realistic with your aim and your goals, but if you believe in the product and the service you provide, even if there are other people doing the same thing you know you’ve just got to do it better. You’ve got to have a point of difference and our results are starting to show.”
For more information or enquiries about Endless Turf, head to the official website.