Tell us a bit about yourselves.
Both of us grew up on dairy farms, just miles apart in the Listowel area. Kent studied Mechanical Design at Fanshawe College, as well as Tool and Die at Conestoga College. Heather studied Accounting at Georgian College, then went on to earn a professional accounting designation. The two have been married for 23 years, and have a 16-year-old daughter named Lana, and a 12-year-old son, Wade.
How did you come to own KYJO?
Kent always had a dream to own his own business. He was working for a steel fabrication company, climbing his way up the career ladder – from designing jigs and fixtures, to becoming operations manager for one of the divisions. He genuinely enjoyed his job and learned so much about the industry and management of a business…but the longing to run his own business never went away.
A few opportunities presented themselves over the span of a few years, but none really felt right. We were a young family and that comes with many challenges.
Kent had dealings with KYJO Steel and the previous owner through his job at the time. He mentioned his goal of owning a small business like his, in passing. About a year later, the owner called Kent, explaining he was looking to sell and hoped Kent was interested.
We knew pretty quickly that KYJO was the perfect fit for us. It was an industry Kent knew well, was located in Woodstock (no moving necessary), and was just an overall solid business. We took the leap. We mortgaged everything we owned, borrowed from family, and were able to secure financing.
On November 1, 2010, we became the proud new owners of KYJO Steel. Kent resigned from his position of eleven years to run our business full time. He was living his dream!
The first year was overwhelming. Kent worked long hours to establish himself and to position KYJO for continued success. I (Heather) had a demanding full-time job as an accountant in the automotive industry, and we had two young children, plus the responsibilities that come with owning a large property. We knew we needed to make a few changes, which we did. We refocused and settled into our new normal – moving forward and never looking back.
What changes has KYJO seen over the past 10 years?
GROWTH…lots and lots of growth!
We started out in a 6400sq ft facility on Bysham Park Drive in Woodstock in 2010. By 2015, we had clearly outgrown it. Heather quit her job of 17 years and took over the accounting and administration for the company. We purchased land across the road, and in 2016, we built a brand new 15,600 sq ft facility.
Taking the step to invest in a new building was stressful but we had to support the continued growth of our business. Our new location offered not only more space, but also better lighting, air quality, and efficiency. With 24 feet below the cranes, we were able to take on bigger projects to better meet the needs of current customers and attract new ones.
In the past 10 years we have also invested heavily in new equipment to expand on our capabilities and improve lead times. It’s about constantly moving forward to better serve our clients.
What have been the keys to the continued success of KYJO Steel?
Number one is our team members. They are our most valuable resource. We can invest in equipment but without a dedicated team, we wouldn’t be where we are today. They have always been willing to tackle even the toughest projects and have the experience and expertise to get the job done well.
Second, is honest and friendly service. We believe in treating our employees, customers, suppliers, and everyone who comes through our doors in a respectful and kind manner.
Third, we believe in creating partnerships with our customers. Working closely together lets us ensure their requirements are fabricated efficiently without sacrificing quality.
And lastly, our family business model. We are a true family business. We both work for KYJO and our kids help out with many tasks when they can.
What is it like working with your spouse?
We get asked this question often. For us, it has been great. We each have our own responsibilities within the company. We support and help each other own when necessary, but we trust each other to do our jobs well.
It does make it hard to leave work at work. Discussions and decisions often happen in the evenings and on the weekends at home when we both have time.
What does your family do outside of KYJO?
Kent will always say that a day in his tractor is a better way to de-stress than a week down in the sunny south.
Like KYJO, our hobby farm operation is a family affair. We all work together to ensure crops get planted and harvested, as well as everything in between. Our kids’ favourite task is picking stones (just kidding…they hate it!)
We also enjoy camping, swimming, ATVing, gardening, boating, and fishing. If it’s outside – we probably love it!
A BIG THANK YOU FROM HEATHER AND KENT
We would like to thank our families, friends, employees, customers, and suppliers for all their help and support over the past 10 years. You are all the reason KYJO Steel is a success. Here’s to another ten years, and many more to come!
At KYJO Steel, we have a strong team of welders who are ready to exceed your toughest demands. Our knowledge and equipment mean we can weld parts up to and over 20,000 lbs, dependent on shape. With 24 feet of height under our crane, we have more than enough space to complete your biggest projects. KYJO Steel is CWB certified in both Mild and Stainless Steel as well as Aluminum, so you can rest assured every project is completed to the highest standards. Why does our certification matter to you? Here are the top three reasons:Read More