Meet Gary Wyatt
Gary Wyatt completed accountancy training in Australia in 1979 – his first role “down under” was with Levi Strauss & Co at the Adelaide Manufacturing Plant the same year. It was here that although his day-to-day was spent focused on the cost of rivets, belt loops and the width of flare on varying style jeans, he began to develop a love of “Brand” and the marketing thereof; what it meant to the consumer and moreover what made it attractive enough to create the “desire to buy”. This interest kick started thoughts of embarking upon an MBA to provide a greater scope for his future career. Gary’s “naturally inquiring mind” provided self posing questions such as “I wonder what it’s like in Bethlehem on Christmas Eve?” and “What is it like to work on a Kibbutz, how might it feel to be part of it?” …and in true Wyatt-style he followed these questions to their destinations so as to make an informed decision about them, as well as many others taboot. Having quenched his initial thirst to travel, absorbed a little more of what the world has to offer and further broadened his growing wealth of knowledge, in 1982 Gary returned from his sabbatical to set up his first business; offering Financial Services to the Oil Industry providing the funds to turn his MBA dreams to reality at Cranfield University’s School of Management.
Whilst at Cranfield an opportunity with American Express presented itself …“That’ll do nicely!”, thought Gary, never one to miss an opportunity! He immediately added his name to the list of hopefuls and after following a rigorous interview process from psychometric testing, to one-to-one questioning, to a detailed Myers Briggs assessment, the role was finally his. New job – New York, so Gary had his first bite of “The Big Apple” in 1985.
This dream job had presented the chance for him to experience varying company roles and included everything Gary loves and relishes; travel, the best marketing of a terrific product in an interesting sector offering financial packages and options that lived up to both the customer and consumer expectations. He found himself working with clever stimulating people in a leading market – what more could he want?
Seven year itch…It was seven plus years and some 100,000 air miles later when one too many late Friday night journeys pushed the “Is there more to life than this?” question to the forefront of Gary’s mind. Having spent the best part of the journey playing number plate games, creating words from numbers and then extending the game by making words from the letters; beginning with A, B, C, and then linking them to birds, fish, mammals, etc, it was here the Alpha Animals board game was devised. Many at the thought of what they deem an ingenious idea, usually leave it so – never to take it to the next stage – indeed, it is often the thought of “that must already exist” or “it’ll never work/sell” that prevents an individual fulfilling the potential of the idea… or their own potential… it was this very turning point where the stifled entrepreneurial Wyatt spirit began to emerge.
Ten years prior to the launch of Innocent Smoothies, Gary took a similar initiative to trial his idea – having had x 1,000 Alpha Animal Board Games produced, he purchased a pitch at the Alexandra Palace Gift Fair and took a week’s annual leave from Am Ex to test the market for his product. Not dissimilarly to the Innocent boys he had an ecological and ethical ambition to fulfill and wanted to try to ensure his products were made as “GREEN” as possible. By the end of the fair Gary had sold almost all the games…a new dream appeared only to become reality. Following the required notice period with American Express: The Green Board Game Company Limited was incorporated on 25th February 1991 [Company No. 2583329].
Gary admits that for the first eight years the company was run as a lifestyle business to provide flexibility and time to spend with his children born in 1990 and 1993. Stemmed by the three key areas that steered the ethos of the company: environment, education and manufacturing products in the UK, Gary’s insatiable love of the industry led him to look at other games he could license, as well as further game ideas, inventions and production of his own.
The environment is still of paramount concern to Gary, however, this has become more of a hygiene factor today as most claim green credentials in one form or another and price is so critical that overseas production is now often a necessity although the UK is always given first bite. GBG uses recycled material and reduces its carbon footprint wherever possible; this is something GBG will always do; although it is not critical to their USP, it is the reasoning behind the name and holds substance in the production of the product. “And what is the key USP?” – you may ask; there will be no hesitation in Mr Wyatt’s answer to that question: “Simple” he would say, “Learning is critical to GBG’s positioning in the marketplace and making it fun is critical to the positioning and the consumer!” and from this simplicity was born the strap-line to Gary’s most successful games yet – The BrainBox range – play together, learn together.