Awards a sure sign of business skill
When Kevin Jones got on stage to accept the award for best franchisee in New Zealand, his first words into the microphone were ‘‘bloody hell’’.
His exclamation was understandable. His journey to such lofty recognition took more than 40 years.
Jones had always wanted to own his own business but even after 30 at the tax department and eight years with the Taranaki Rugby Football Union he’d never built up the courage to take the plunge.
As he got older he thought ‘‘if I don’t do this now I’ll regret it’’. So he bought a Speedy Signs franchise.
Now the New Plymouth man and his wife Sheryl have been recognised for their business acumen.
As well as winning 2018 Westpac New Zealand Supreme Franchisee of the Year award, they took home the Business Services Franchisee of the Year.
‘‘I thought ‘this is pretty cool’ and it’s always a surprise because you’re sitting there thinking ‘you’re only a small pup in a small town’. The rest of the country is doing stuff as well,’’ he said.
The awards recognise excellence in business processes, vision, values and culture and are independently judged by the NZ Business Excellence Foundation.
The recent awards aren’t the only trophies Jones has sitting on his mantelpiece.
He is also the proud holder of the Kevin Jones award, a trophy Speedy Signs created last year for the store with the best regional sales.
It was named after Jones as his store tends to come out on top.
‘‘It’s the Ranfurly Shield for the regional stores so anyone that tops my sales I have to go and present it to them. But the thing is, it’ll always have my name on it,’’ he said.
He put their success at the recent awards down to hard work and failure not being an option.
‘‘You either lose or you don’t lose and we chose not to lose. It hasn’t been plain sailing, you do what you have to do.
‘‘We often get told ‘‘you’re the hardest working sign writer in town’’. We’re out weekends, I’ll be up on a roof putting up signage and a customer will be down on the ground shouting ‘hey what are you up to?’ and then they’re up on the roof too having a chat.’’
Two of Jones’ three children, Wendy and Matt, work alongside him at Speedy Signs and Matt was a large reason why he bought the franchise.
‘‘I saw this ad for Speedy Signs wanting to open up a franchise in New Plymouth and my son had been a sign writer for three or four years when he left school and the apprenticeship never worked out.
‘‘He went on and studied this and that and was sitting around doing odd jobs and stuff, working for friends, and I said ‘you’ve spent a lot of money on a degree how about we put it to use’?’’
The first few years running the business were challenging, more than Jones thought they would be. He’d spend his time going door to door in search of clients, handing out business cards.
Over time he has found working for himself to be rewarding but said he still can’t say he’s his own boss.
‘‘I still have people bossing me around. That’s what family does."
Kevin Jones owns Speedy Signs New Plymouth but he said he can’t call himself his own boss as someone in the family will still be bossing him around, such as his wife Sheryl or his kids Wendy and Matt.