Kristie Pate has been running Kingswood Smash Repairs (KSR) in Penrith, NSW since she was 23 when she and her brother bought her father out of the business.
After a couple of years, she bought her brother out too. Now, at the tender age of 38, Kristie has 12 years experience as the CEO of the business. Like many second generation shop owners growing up in the business, the repair environment feels very familiar but it is also a passion. "It's challenging, but the shop becomes a second home. Everyone works long hours, five days a week and the team becomes part of the family," she says.
Pate started out as office manager straight from school and worked under her father's leadership for eight years. Her role covers HR, payroll, health and safety, accounts, customer service and generally managing the whole business. It's a full time job at around 50 hours per week, which she juggles with being a mum of three small children aged six, four and one.
Pate didn't rely on family know-how to run a successful business and has undertaken many business courses since she took the helm. She has a diploma of business, took accounting courses, leadership management training, WHS co-coordinator training, various MTA courses and weekly business coaching from Action Coach Australia.
"The management and leadership courses were valuable as it was daunting at first to manage employees who were 20 years older than me and that gave me the confidence I needed. We also use personality profiling so that I know what each team member needs in terms of management. That helps us to get the most from the team," she says
KSR employs 28 staff and Pate is proud of her business describing it as a leading light in the industry.
"As the company's CEO it is my duty to set the vision for the company and manage my team to ensure that our vision and goals are met daily. I have put together many management policies and procedures and built a management team with structure and detailed position descriptions that ensure that my key management team perform accordingly. I have three key managers that report to me weekly to discuss KPIs and the business' upcoming needs."
Pate's husband has also joined the business. His background in sales made him ideal for various roles including attracting fleet customers which now make up 20-30 per cent of KSR's repair mix.
KSR has been awarded a MTA Green Stamp level three and three years ago secured its first manufacturer accreditation from Volvo Australia. Pate is also set on winning more manufacturer accreditation.
"As part of my role, I plan for the future and adapt my business model to suit our industry's changing environment to ensure that we remain profitable in a very competitive market. As CEO I have negotiated with leading insurance companies to secure contracts for five years for 30-40 vehicles per week which has contributed to over $3 million in revenue per annum to the company."