Kais a win­ner for women

Southern Gazette (South Perth) - - NEWS - So­phie Moore

AS a woman in a male­dom­i­nated in­dus­try, the 23rd Bel­mont and WA Awards’ Busi­ness Per­son of the Year hopes her suc­cess will be an in­spi­ra­tion to other women.

Sharon Kais was recog­nised at last Wed­nes­day’s awards cer­e­mony at the Perth Con­ven­tion Cen­tre, for her suc­cess as founder and CEO of plant equip­ment hire com­pany Kais Con­tract­ing.

“I was over­whelmed,” Ms Kais said of re­ceiv­ing the award. “For any­one who’s won an award recog­nis­ing how pro­fes­sional you’ve been ... for small busi­ness own­ers it gives you the strength to keep go­ing.

“It gives you recog­ni­tion, op­por­tu­nity and a chance to draw at­ten­tion to your busi­ness.”

Ms Kais de­cided to start her own busi­ness af­ter the strain of rais­ing young chil­dren with a FIFO hus­band be­gan to take its toll.

“(Hus­band) Dave had been work­ing in the civil and min­ing in­dus­try since he was 17 so I re­alised the only an­swer was for me to fol­low into the in­dus­try and have us work to­gether.”

But she was re­luc­tant at first, af­ter see­ing too many friends go bank­rupt. “I de­cided it was up to me to make it a suc­cess and bring him in on it,” Ms Kais said.

“But as soon as we bought KAIS Con­trac­tors has been hit hard by the min­ing and con­struc­tion down­turn.

“It’s been a hard 12 months, we’ve had a huge de­cline due to oil prices, earth­works, min­ing con­struc­tions – fewer new mines start­ing up. We’ve had to make 50 peo­ple re­dun­dant.”

But Ms Kais said they were now re-hir­ing our first grader, he loved it.”

De­spite 26 years’ ex­pe­ri­ence work­ing for com­pa­nies such as Wood­side and Aus­tral Bricks, Ms Kais said deal­ing with clients was dif­fi­cult at first.

“The older ones, to them I was this woman who had staff. “We’re still not there ... and we’re not mak­ing enough to re­coup the losses we’ve had,” she said.

“(But) win­ning (busi­nessper­son of the year) gives you the strength to keep go­ing. As small busi­nesses we em­ploy and sup­port so many peo­ple in the com­mu­nity, we bear it on our shoul­ders.” come out of nowhere. Some re­fused to deal with me,” she said.

Ms Kais said she had seen a big im­prove­ment in the younger gen­er­a­tion.

“They’re cul­tur­ally more aware,” she said.

As well as sup­port­ing young women as a mem­ber of Women in Min­ing, Ms Kais also ded­i­cates her time to com­mu­nity work.

“I be­lieve small busi­ness own­ers are a vi­tal part of the com­mu­nity. For Dave and me, ev­ery­one we em­ploy is part of our family,” she said.

Sharon Kais with her hus­band Dave (left) and Bob Barba­gallo at the Bel­mont busi­ness awards.

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