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

Kelly Cleaning Up

She started her part-time office cleaning business with a bucket, some cloths and a borrowed vacuum cleaner.

Now, she has given up her day job to focus full-time on her business, has more than doubled her customer base and is a finalist in the upcoming Sunshine Coast Business Women’s Network Awards.

Kelly Powell said goodbye to her role role in project management after 10 years with the same insurance company on may 30

She will now devote all her energy to the business she runs with husband Jamee, Kapow’s Cleaning Services.

The couple have hired three people, with a fourth due to start soon.

To say that 2013 has been a huge year for Kelly is an understatement.

“I would say around 60-70% of my new business comes from direct word-of-mouth referrals,” she said.

“I have also actively looked to hire people with challenges because I see the value in helping people understand their own self-worth”

“I only purchase cleaning supplies from local cleaning suppliers, either locally or australian made.”

“And cleaning requests I can’t provide services for, I forward to other local small businesses.”

“If we help each other, we get greater results!”

Kapow’s Cleaning Services has expanded it’s product range to offer potted plants for offices as well as residential cleaning.

“I like to think it is never about what you can lose, it’s always about what you can gain,” Kelly said.

Sunshine Coast Daily

Top-performing Coast business women among award finalists

Great to see the Sunshine Coast Daily acknowledging the Finalists in 2013 Sunshine Coast Business Women’s Network Awards. Kapow’s founder, Kelly Powell, was among the hard-working entrepreneurial stars to recognised in the 2013 awards.

You can see all the women nominated below, or click here to see the original article from the Sunshine Coast Daily.

THE Sunshine Coast Business Women’s Network has named the finalists in its 2013 awards.

They will be presented on August 24 2013.

Young Business Woman of the Year: Kira Klein, Kira Klein Enterprises; Tsu Shan Chambers, Yin Health; Carly Earl, Eco Child; Loretta Morgan, Jam Property; Heidi Gorell-Hay, Mirror Professional Development; Belinda McEachern, littleMUSOS; Melinda Bingley, MAB Personal Training; Elizabeth Henebery, DTB! Advertising.

Micro/Small Business Woman of the Year: Renee Blackwell, Renee Blackwell Jewellery; Henriette Cosgrove, Principal Plans Pty Ltd; Jacqueline Eegdeman-Gerri, Copecats Printers; Genine Howard, Fork in the Road Enterprises; Tracey-Ann Ferguson, Close Financial Planning; Cindy Steele, TopGear Security; Kelly Powell, Kapow’s Cleaning Services; Sandy Riba, ribakasteel; Kylie Patchett, Tall Poppy Project.

Corporate Business Woman of the Year: Kelly Thomas, ADFX; Lindy Kelly, Loan Market; Tamara Wrigley, Carolans First National Real Estate Nambour; Faith Baigent, Hinterland Times Sunshine Coast; Jody Irvine, Fastway Couriers; Linda Delamotte, Your Home Care.

Professional Business Woman of the Year: Leanne Layfield, Caloundra Chamber of Commerce; Sandy McCulloch, Heritage Bank Nambour; Michelle Evans, 4 Ingredients; Kylie Jacobson, Heritage Regional Sales Manager; Sue Frost, Women’s Lifestyle Expo.

More details about the awards online at

Kapow’s founder honoured with finalist nomination!

The entire Kapow’s Commercial Cleaning team is delighted to hear that founder and company hero, Kelly Powell was nominated as a finalist in the 2013 Sunshine Coast Business Women’s Network Business Woman of the Year.

To be included as one of the nine hard-working leaders in the Small / Micro Business category is truly an honour for Kelly. Anyone who works with Kelly knows how much of her soul so puts into every task, and this nomination is well deserved.

Congratulations Kelly!

You can check out the My Weekly Preview exclusive announcement here, or visit the Sunshine Coast Business Women’s Network for the full list of finalists here!

Kapow’s now built for a corporate culture

KELLY Powell has had a permanent smile on her face for three weeks. That’s what happens when you win a business-defining tender.

Her Kapow’s Cleaning Services business, which she operates with husband Jamee, has won the contract to clean the call centre and offices of Stellar in Maroochydore Homemaker Centre.

The contract, which began on January 14, means cleaning windows, reception and kitchen areas as well as vacuuming and emptying rubbish bins five nights a week.

It has created one casual job, and will more than likely create at least one or two more this year.

It has also set up her 18-month- old business, which was previously just a husband-and -wife operation, for a growth explosion.

“This type of contract puts you on the map,” she said.

“I am absolutely stoked. I am still smiling and it’s been three weeks.

“We are super excited about the potential of where this could take us.

“We will need another person soon to cover holidays and sick leave.

“So I suspect Stellar will open up a whole new world for us in the way of contracts, and I have staff waiting and ready to go.”

Mrs Powell was strategic about the tender process, viewing it as a learning opportunity even if she didn’t win and thoroughly preparing to deliver a stand-out application.

“If you want to do something, give it a go,” she said.

“The worse case is you don’t win, but at least you’ve been through a good exercise.

“I didn’t go in thinking I was going to do a cleaning quote. I researched Stellar before I met their operations manager to find out their culture and what they do.

“I treated my meeting as a job interview and not as a quotation process.

“Stellar is exactly the market I want to get into – I want to specialise in call centre and small-to-medium business cleaning.

“We want to develop that corporate culture.” The Powells initially took on cleaning for some extra cash but could end up leaving their jobs to focus on the growing business.

She said she made use of advice and support from her accountant and Geoff Peters, from the council, when completing the tender process.

“Geoff Peters was there 24-7 for me. He directed me to various places on the council website (, which gives you such a great insight into everything you need to be thinking about.

“It is easy to read and to understand.”

Check out the article from the Sunshine Coast Daily here!