Today’s share on My Trade Story is one I can relate to, and draws many paralells to my own story. Rebecca runs a security screens and blinds business with her husband along with juggling motherhood, taking the leap to leave a successful career to work in their business a few years ago. I’m sure you’ll enjoy her story.
My Trade Story with Rebecca Keck
I would describe my trade story as a gradual, rapid, unplanned, formulated, fly by the seat of my pants, exhilarating roller coaster ride towards living a life I would have only once dreamed of. If only I knew now, when I first started my journey. You know the picture:
Let me start at the beginning. I could almost say I’ve been in this business for 20 years. After being made redundant, my step dad, Colin, started the business in 1996 to help support our blended brady bunch of a family – 6 kids in total (3 girls and 3 boys). Us kids were the first financial investors in the business, having to give a small short term business loan to cover the cost of the first job. One broken window later and that first job ended up costing Colin money, but that’s another story all together.
Colin and my mum, Judy, built the business up over the years but due to health reasons my dad retired and had to give up his much loved business. Thankfully he was able to keep the business in the family when my husband Adam took over the reins in 2009. Adam was working as a fully qualified carpenter subcontracting to various builders. Initially Adam juggled his subcontracting work, working in the business and being a new dad to our twin girls who were born the same year. Our first project was to grow and expand the business. We implemented a branding strategy, built a website and hit the ground running.
My background was in the corporate world, working in Learning and Development as a corporate trainer. For a few years I juggled working part time as a Learning and Development Consultant, working part time in our business and being the main care giver to our children. Having no background in running a business it was a huge learning curve. I had always done Adam’s bookwork while he was a subcontractor but managing a growing business was a whole new level. I was the Accounts Manager, Marketing Manager, Office Manager, HR Manager. I’ve had to teach myself how to do many things, such as using accounts systems, managing cash flow, reading house plans, quoting jobs and I’ve even helped out on a few installations.
I was working 4 days per week in my corporate job and doing our business work in the evenings and on my day off. Eventually it all became too much and something had to give, so at the end of 2013 I took up an offer of a voluntary redundancy to trial working full time in our business. How could I leave my secure, well paying ‘job’, where I was well regarded by my peers? Surely I must have been crazy but how could I learn to sail if I never left the safety of the harbour. It was the scariest and best decision I ever made!
Today Adam and I manage a very successful business that we are very proud of. We are a local family owned small business that provides employment for two local people. It didn’t happen overnight, it’s been years of hard work, late nights and sacrifices. I attribute a lot of our success to our commitment to providing our customers with a great ‘tradie’ experience. Our motto is to treat each person’s home as if it were our own.
One of the biggest challenges I faced was the shift in my personal identity and how to balance all the different hats I wear both in the business and on a personal level. In any relationship it’s important to have a conversation around roles (especially when you’re working with your partner) and to set clear expectations. I’m the Ying and Adam’s the Yang, we are aware of each others strengths and weaknesses and do our best to allocate work to the best person for the job (which is usually me… hahaha). This is something that I’m always working on as my role is ever evolving as our business grows. And as I’m sure many small business owners can identify with is trying to achieve a more balanced lifestyle. We work very long hours, especially in the warmer months as this is the busiest period for our industry. Some days we reminisce about the days when we had jobs and got to ‘clock off’ at 5pm and forget about work. We wouldn’t have it any other way though!
The future of our industry is looking strong. The security screen industry is a complex and dynamic industry and is currently in the process of driving change nationally through the National Security Screen Association (NSSA). The NSSA has affiliated itself with the Australian Window Association to set industry standards and drive collaboration between industry and suppliers. This is great for consumers who can be assured that NSSA members meet quality benchmarks and standards for security screen products and installation.
As for the future of our business, we have plans for world domination – just kidding! Jokes aside, we really take pride in what we do and are proud of what we have achieved together. The cooler months of the year provide me with the time to review the previous summer period, what worked well and areas we can improve. The next few years will offer the business many possibilities. This means our business plan and strategic vision will be pivotal to our continued success. What I would like to see most is that we can set up systems, processes and procedures that allow our business to continue operating successfully without us having to do and oversee absolutely everything. As small business owners the hardest thing to do is trust others to do the job as well as you would do it yourself. Absolute Security and Blinds has built a strong reputation as a trusted business within our local community and amongst our customers and I hope this continues for many more years to come.
My advice for other women who may be considering working in the construction industry is to trust your instincts, believe in yourself and go for it! After all what’s the worse thing that could happen?
Thanks so much for sharing your story Rebecca. I can certainly relate to striving for a more balanced lifestyle, and the long busy days that come with running a small business! If you’d like to find out more about Bec’s business, be sure to check out their Facebook, Instagram and Website.
Do you run a small business within the construction industry? How did you first start out?