Home Interview Scott Unsworth

Scott Unsworth

by fatweb

Natural design

Success starts with a dream and for Scott Unsworth, founder of international sportswear brand Orca, the dream has never changed. Sandy Galland talks to Scott to discover more about the man who was forced to give up pro-sports, but who has still managed to dominate sports arenas the world over in ways he never thought possible.

“I have always liked to win. I am very determined and competitive… I just don’t like coming second,” says Scott. Throughout our conversation this sheer determination is evident and despite hitting the wall on numerous occasions during his journey to building Orca into the international identity it is today, Scott has resolutely followed his dream, never faltering in his vision to have a globally recognised sports brand.
From an early age, Scott was an accomplished athlete and in the late 1980s at the birth time of triathlon, he found
his niche. By 1990 he was the top junior in New Zealand and ranked in the top 10 nationally. “I was full of potential to become the pro-athlete I had dreamed of.”
This dream was soon shattered as chronic back pain prevented him from training and competing. “I had just pushed my body too hard when I was too young,” he says.
“I had never thought about doing anything else and I had to really think what else there was in my life. I had to look at what I was good at that I could turn it into a job to live a ‘normal’ life,” he says.
As a relatively new christian, Scott was discovering there was more to life than money and sport. He attributes the lessons learned during this soul searching to his subsequent success. “My crutch was taken away and it was time to sink or swim.”
Scott had to find a job and had decided he wanted to be a swim coach; he approached his local pool but was only able to secure a job as the toilet and pool scum cleaner. “You have to start somewhere and I was happy to work my way up.” As it happened, Scott never got to clean anything — a resignation saw him move straight into a coaching position.
From here Scott has never looked back. His entrepreneurial spirit saw a succession of ideas become successful and within months he was selling a specialised wetsuit for swimmers which he had helped develop during his competitive days. By the time he was 21, Scott was having the performance swim suits made to his own design.
“We were making a good product back then and other people wanted some of the business so I quickly realised I had to protect what I was doing.” The rest is history, and selling these speedsuits from the back of his car at triathlon events is a far cry from the 35 countries which now stock the Orca range of high performance sports clothing.
By 1995 Scott realised that to become a global brand he needed a name that captured the very essence of his vision, thus Orca was born.
“The Orca is a perfect example of natural design. With every inch of its sleek, powerful body minutely attuned to the sea’s rhythms, it roams the world’s oceans as undisputed ruler. For a company set on achieving the pinnacle of performance in challenging environments, it’s hard to envisage a better source of inspiration.”
Five years later Scott had Orca on the world stage at the 2000 Sydney Olympics and two thirds of all triathlon competitors wore Orca speedsuits in the swim leg. Four years later he sponsored the New Zealand team at the Athens Olympics. “This was the biggest thrill of my career,” he says. “It was a proud moment. Our whole team felt that the hard work we had put into Orca had come to fruition. We knew we could compete with the big boys out there.”


Scott has always known that to grow his business successfully he needed a good team. Wife Hildegard is an integral part of the Orca driving force. “Together we make the business better — she makes up for my weaknesses,” he says.
While Orca continues to meet the dreams Scott has mapped, on a personal level he is building the company to help influence others in a way that will have people not just thinking about themselves.
“You only need so much money to live, I want to encourage people to use the extra to make a difference, to influence things for good and to make others lives better.”

Scott often takes the opportunity to mentor young entrepreneurs. “You need to sow back. It’s too easy to get absorbed in your own all-consuming world.”
So, his advice to these young business minds is: “Focus on the big picture, but never lose sight of the detail, as ultimately this is where your success will come.”
While Scott and Hildegard divide their time between homes in Hong Kong and Auckland, directing their international empire, Scott says Orca will always be a New Zealand brand… after all it is yet another example of something great being built out of nothing other than dreams, hard work and vision.

You may also like

Leave a Comment