Innovation and determination equals success
Issue 49 Carolyn Thomson, General Manager of Pelican Waters-based business Kadoe Commercial Coatings, has created a magical solution to weatherproofing their local business, which is now experiencing rapid growth nationally...
A few years ago, Carolyn and her husband Wayne found themselves in financial turmoil after the franchise business they were running ended up in Federal Court. With no money, Carolyn knew that they had to come up with something unique to gain a viable edge over their competitors. They knew it was time to be innovative in the business of installing waterproofing on new buildings, and providing polished concrete and epoxy coatings for warehouses and retail complexes.
With little knowledge of the industry, Carolyn started to research ‘no grind polished concrete’. Although this product has been available for 30 to 40 years from the US, the construction process here in Australia is very different. Masters Home Improvement (Woolworths Limited’s home improvement and hardware store) was importing the product, so Carolyn sourced a Gold Coast manufacturer and started playing with paving stones in the garage. She spent many hours practising the technique and gaining valuable knowledge of the product. She introduced a magical process that installs a gentle ‘no grind polished concrete’ that’s unaffected by wet weather and gets better with use.
“When the Brisbane floods occurred in 2011, the business got hit hard. There was no income for up to four months. So I decided that the business also needed weather proofing!” says Carolyn. The business now provides continuous cash flow by ensuring all the work has to be done in completed buildings and finished in a three to four week period. Carolyn’s magical business model has also won her a string of very impressive Sunshine Coast awards, including winning the 2012 Nokia Business Innovation Award at the Queensland Telstra Business Women’s Awards.
We asked Carolyn to share her top piece of advice for readers who might also find themselves in a similar, desperate financial situation at some point.
“Everybody has something different that motivates them. You have to find your Achilles heel that pushes you to go that extra distance. For me, it was fear of not putting a roof that we owned over my son’s head”, explains Carolyn.
After the fall of the franchise business, a business consultant recommended that Carolyn become the face of the business. “I kicked and screamed… I didn’t want to do it! However everyone else could see that I had the potential to take the business to a new level.”
The one thing that Carolyn started to focus on was her mental capacity to be able to look at the positive and block out the negative. “If you are going through difficulties, like a lot of other businesses are, sometimes it’s just a matter of setting yourself aside and taking some quiet time for your brain and get rid of all chatter”.
In a male-dominated industry, Carolyn’s natural strength is in building relationships with people. Every bit of business they do is based on a relationship that has taken a long time to cultivate. “We’re not there for the dollar today; we don’t take a job today and think we’re not going to deal with that builder again. I think that’s part of why we won the award as well”, explains Carolyn.
Some final words from Carolyn: “There are decisions to make in business and it might mean looking at things differently. The Sunshine Coast is a great place to live, however don’t limit your thinking to your business being totally exclusive to the coast, because you will be missing out on so much more”.