Small business giving back to the community

Kelly Powell is the owner and co-founder (with her husband James) of Kapow’s Cleaning Service, based on the Sunshine Coast of Queensland. Her commitment to giving back is reflected in the hiring practices of her small business. She is simply an amazing woman….
“At Kapow’s, we give back to the community a little differently. I actively hire people with challenges and work closely with agencies like Epic and Steps to ensure we have the right support available to set up the staff we hire for their success. To date, I have been only impressed with the work ethics and effort that my guys bring to work every day.
I am incredibly proud to say that we will build off this platform and I know it will be successful and fulfilling for all involved. In fact, my 3 year goal is to have at least 40% of my workforce sourced from these agencies. I think it is absolutely critical to involve as many people with challenges as I can, as not only does their self worth and confidence soar…but I get genuine ambassadors representing my business proudly and effectively.
I hire people without challenges as well and I set the expectation that if they can’t be flexible and support people in general…they can’t work for us. I can proudly say that we have an incredibly close team who focus on each others strengths…not weaknesses.

There is also a misconception by employers I think, that people with challenges are hard work. I have not found this to be the case. There is full support from the agencies I go through and the people I have hired are driven and enthusiastic. It also makes good financial sense as there are financial incentives offered by most of these agencies which for a small business is gold.  ….. What more could you want!

Obviously I could bang on about this topic for ever, because quite frankly it is my number one passion…and it all simply stems from my belief that life where possible should be fair……And given that I control the decision making in my business I think employing people with challenges that other employers might not look at, is about as fair as you can get.

I’d like to leave you with one last thought.  About three weeks into his new job, I asked an employee how he was going and what he thought of his job. He had been unemployed for a considerable amount of time (in fact I doubt this 40 yr old gentle giant has ever had a long term paying job)

Anyway he stood very tall and said that he was proud of himself. He has changed his diet and is going for walks so he can be fitter so he can do his job better. I said that was great! I knew he lived with his elderly father so I asked him what his dad thought. He stood tall and proud again and replied “my dad has called all of his friends and told them that his son had a real job where he gets paid”.

That for me was close to the best moment ever…I still get teary thinking about it…and that was the moment when I really realised what it’s all about.”

Steps Pathway Project

Construction of the STEPS Pathways Project started in April 2016 and was one of the most exciting developments in STEPS Group Australia’s 30 year history.
The Project allows young people with disabilities the opportunity to live independently in specially designed homes with a life skills Pathways Program to be delivered on site and 24 hour a day support on hand.
TheProgram has taught hundreds of participants the skills they need to live in their own home and make decisions and choices about the way they want to live.
Kapow’s are proud to be a contributor of time and staff to this project, with our team completing all onsite builder’s clean prior to the initial participants moving in.

InFocus: Kelly Powell

Kelly Powell
Kapows Commercial Cleaning, Sunshine Coast

Four years ago, Kelly Powell wasn’t afraid to get her hands dirty – juggling 18 months of subcontracting for a cleaning business after hours, six days per week, while holding a full-time job to bring in additional funds.

Now, what was a part-time cleaning company born out of sheer financial desperation has grown to a full-scale independent business, and Kelly and husband Jamee are cleaning up.

“Don’t be too hard on yourself and don’t be afraid to fail. We have fallen down too many times to count, but we always keep moving forward. Surround yourself with people who want you to succeed,” Kelly advises.

“Our biggest triumph was believing in ourselves enough to take that first plunge.”

With a joint background in corporate financial services, Kelly and Jamee established Kapows Commercial Cleaning in 2012, winning their first official contract in October that year.

“At the time, it was a little scary giving up full time work to ride the crazy train of small business ownership, but we wanted to give it a go,” says Kelly.

“We have had profit growth year on year from day one, so that risk paid off.”

On the back of winning a large tender in January 2013, the couple was able to grow Kapows to the independent company it is today. Later that year, Kelly was recognised as a finalist in the 2013 Sunshine Coast Business Woman of the Year Award, a nomination she describes as “surreal, overwhelming and insightful,” as her achievements in business ownership were recognised.

“We had been employees for such a long time, and thought being our own bosses for a bit sounded like great fun. It is!” Kelly laughs.

And fun is certainly on their checklist – at home, Kelly and Jamee “love doing simple things – kayaking, barbecue on the beach, going to local markets, catching up with friends, just simply being together – even grocery shopping can mean lots of giggles!”

After all, what’s success without a sparkle of fun?

InFocus: Deb Manson & Kelly Powell