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Interview with MD of Zeiss Agent, OSA, Australia/NZ

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Old Tuesday 30th April 2019, 09:23   #1
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Join Date: May 2012
Location: Sheffield
Posts: 9,023
Interview with MD of Zeiss Agent, OSA, Australia/NZ

Outdoor Sporting Agencies based in Tarneit, Victoria, close to Melbourne, are a wholesaler for many brands of outdoor equipment including two optics brands: Nikon and Zeiss. OSA are represent Zeiss Sports Optics in Australia and since I have not covered a company of this type in my previous interviews nor had I interviewed any company from this part of the world, I was very pleased indeed when Daniel Galea, OSA’s Managing Director, agreed to this interview.

As usual, in the text below T stands for me, Troubador, and the DG signifies Danny Galea.

T: When was OSA founded and by whom?
DG: It was started by me, Daniel Galea in 2007.

T: How did it develop up to the present day?
DG: In the beginning we started with outdoor clothing as well as hiking back-packs, and as we became more successful, in time more and more manufactures wanted to come on board with us.

T: Who are the key personnel today?

DG: We run a fairly tight ship with a compact management structure, so today there is me Daniel Galea – Managing Director, Billy Stratis – Sales Manager, Pina Galea – Zeiss Warranty Manager, and James Harding – Marketing Manager.

T: Describe OSA’s range of products and OSA’s relationships with Sports Optics brands.
DG: We still distribute outdoor apparel as well as back-packs and obviously Zeiss optics which is our strongest brand.

T: Is OSA simply a trading partner or legally an ‘agent’?
DG: We are the authorised and exclusive agent for Zeiss sports optics in Australia.

T: Describe the geographical area you are appointed to service by Zeiss.

DG: Our territory covers all of Australia and we have a company in New Zealand that distributes to around 140 retail stores

T: How many dealers do you supply and where are they (roughly)?
DG: We have approximately 700 accounts throughout Australia, but there are only about 200 active accounts and these are predominately on the east coast of Australia.

T: Are you working to expand this network of dealers or have you reached the limit already?
DG: We are always looking to expand our network, and particularly in the birding and nature observation segment.

T: What are the main challenges you face in the market today?
DG: Overseas buying; people purchasing from U.S. online stores, many of which work from home without a shop front so their expenses are very low which gives them the opportunity to sell with low margins. This is a huge challenge for our store owners who spends the time explaining a product to a customer, pay rent, hire staff and then to have that customer walk out buy from an online store that has spent no time with that same person at all. To combat this we look at what the difference is with currency and freight and make sure our dealers can sell at the same price or lower.
Change in Technology; Range finding binoculars with inbuilt rangefinders that also connect to your phone through Blue Tooth. What next?
Weather impacts; We find that during drought years, we sell less optics. It could be because the countryside isn’t so scenic that people may not be that interested in going out adventuring, maybe money is tight during this time, it definitely is with the farmers.
Consumer demand; We need to keep the customer interested in our product, we need to make sure that they don’t swap brands yet at the same time we need to get the customer with the competitors product to jump ship and join us. Trying to work out the best options in making sure we keep our customers happy. From all the years in dealing with optics, warranty and delivery plays the biggest part.

T: What challenges do you face in importing and maintaining stocks of product?
DG: The availability from Zeiss. This usually depends upon demand of other larger markets e.g. US market. However, generally Zeiss supply is good and the lead time is on average 4-6 weeks from order to delivery so we are able to obtain product in a timely manner most of the time.

T: What is the one thing the brands could do to make OSA’s job easier and more effective?
DG: More marketing and brand focused websites that explains the product better. Assistance with product awareness and training for staff/dealers. Also more consumer driven marketing to have them aware of the brand before they step into a store. Listening to the consumer needs.

T: What are your guiding principles in supporting your dealers?
DG: Protecting the brand so we act on any issues quickly with our 24 hour response policy. Close working relationship with Zeiss where the repair/return or replacement of a product is swift and communication is key. Providing training and in store marketing material.

T: What changes have you seen in the market or heard about from dealers?
DG: The main changes we have seen lately is in the technology. Such as better software and ability to record, via Bluetooth & Wi-Fi compatibility.

T: Are dealers noticing an increase in lady birders?
DG: Not that we are aware.

T: Are older people increasing as a proportion of the bino market?
DG: Yes. This is a mature aged category.

T: What is your biggest selling bino size: pocket/folding, 32mm, 42mm, 50mm or 50+mm?
DG: 42mm

T: What is your biggest selling bino magnification: 8x or 10x?
DG: 10x

T: What is happening on the spotting scope market and which scopes are your best sellers?
DG: We don’t have a high demand for spotting scopes so the market is small. Zeiss have introduced two new models the Harpia and Gavia so we hope that these gain some traction in the coming months.

T: Which is your biggest selling bino brand?
DG: Zeiss followed by Nikon.

T: Which sports optics brand dominates the market in your area?
DG: Leica followed by Swarovski then Zeiss.

T: Describe your warranty and repair service for Zeiss products in detail (and other sports optics brands if different) for example. If a customer buys a binocular and finds a fault with it in the first days of using it, should he return it to the dealer and ask for a replacement or contact you?
DG: Ideally the first step should be they go back to the place of purchase and the dealer will contact us and we can arrange the replacement. However, we appreciate that there are times where distance and other factors hinder this process and in these cases, we are happy to deal direct with the consumer.

T: If a customer has had a bino sourced from one of your dealers some years previously and a fault develops, should he contact the dealer or you?
DG: We recommend contacting our team and we can provide further information. Most of the time in these cases we have the consumer return the product to us and we then return the product to Zeiss for evaluation.

T: How long is your warranty and what does it cover?
DG: The majority of product is covered by Zeiss for 10 years (entry level product are covered between 2 and 5 years). For product purchased in Australia from an OSA authorised dealer, OSA offers 20 year replacement or repair guarantee on certain binoculars (extra 10 years on top of Zeiss’ warranty). This warranty covers manufacturing faults. Abuse/misuse is not covered.

T: What are your typical times for confirming receipt of a returned bino?
DG: When it is returned to us, a staff member will make contact confirming receipt and also confirming when the item has been sent back to Zeiss.

T: What are your typical times for confirming examination has been completed and submitting a list of necessary work and replacement parts to the customer and advising how much is/is not covered by warranty?
DG: This is done immediately upon receipt of the cost estimate from Zeiss.

T: What is the typical time for a common repair if there is such a thing?
DG: 1-2 months plus shipping (usually via FedEx/UPS)

T: What is the typical time for confirming the repairs are completed and the bino is on the way back to the customer?
DG: As soon as the bino is received back from the factory we will make contact with the customer and advise the item is on the way back to them.

T: Do you welcome direct contact with end customers regarding questions about binos and spotting scopes or do you encourage them to only contact dealers?
DG: We encourage the relationship between the end consumer and the dealer and more often than not the information required can generally be obtained through the dealer, however we at OSA are happy to take any calls/emails to better service the brand and the help the consumer.

T: Do you prefer telephone contact or email?
DG: Either.

T: Danny, thank you for taking part in this interview

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