No little girl grows up wanting to work in the cleaning industry.
Yet, that’s where university student Kristie Coade – who was an aspiring professional actress at the time – found herself soon after leaving high school.
“I never considered working at Dad’s business,” explained Coade, who landed a telemarketer role in 2007 at AMC Commercial Cleaning, a company her father Stephen Coade, started in 1988. “But when you’re working as an actor, you don’t know when you’re going to get paid next, so I started working at AMC and never left.”
As Coade moved on from her telemarketer role to business development manager for the Victorian branch of AMC, she soon discovered her passion for sales. “It didn’t matter whether it was cleaning or diamonds, I would have sold the product the same way,” she laughed. “And that was a learning curve for me because at the time I was nineteen and didn’t think cleaning was a very glamorous business. But I still loved what I was doing because it was selling.” When an opportunity presented itself at AMC’s Adelaide office – a time Coade now refers to as “her apprenticeship” – Coade packed her bags and moved interstate to head up the office as general manager. “At that point I was ready for a change. I gave myself three years there to achieve a turnover of $3 million, which we reached after only two and a half years. I often refer to my time in Adelaide as my apprenticeship because it was basically doing what I do now on a smaller scale.” Her goal fulfilled, Coade moved back to Melbourne but continued to manage AMC’s South Australia branch remotely for another year before moving on to become AMC’s chief operating officer.
In April this year, Coade was appointed chief executive officer of AMC, taking over from her father Stephen. Coade’s appointment was announced at a three-day conference AMC hosted in Melbourne, as part of its 30-year anniversary celebrations.
“It is an honour to be rewarded with such a huge role at such a young age,” said Coade who is 29 years old. “I have worked in the business for more than 10 years, and while this was a natural progression for me, it has still been an overwhelmingly humbling experience.”
“The fact that Stephen thinks I’m good enough to do it is massive, because he certainly wouldn’t sit there feeling sorry for me. If I wasn’t going to do the job well, I wouldn’t be here.” Coade admits being CEO of a company at such a young age comes with its own set of new challenges and experiences. Being able to communicate effectively with her different teams, appreciate and treat people correctly is a skill Coade says is vital in any industry.
“Reading people is also very important. Having the ability to approach different situations to make each party involved understand what needs to happen and why is invaluable when working in a role like CEO where you interact with a number of different people.”
Discussing the future direction of the company under her leadership, Coade said she would like to see AMC move into facilities optimisation management and utilise more technology to better understand clients. “There are so many different directions this company could take,” said Coade. “Technology changes so rapidly and there are so many opportunities. Having visited the Interclean Amsterdam Expo this year, I’d like to look more into some of the specialised robotic equipment.
Coade also has her eye on the US and is hoping to expand AMC’s operation on an international scale within the next five years. “I was recently in Portland, Oregon, which is an area we are looking at for expansion because it has a similar aesthetic to Melbourne or Adelaide,” said Coade. “It has a friendly, small town vibe and I think a location like that is a better way to start into a market that big and then be able to grow once the foundations are cemented.”
Under Coade’s leadership, culture will also remain a top priority for AMC.
“Staff development is very important to me. I like to make sure people have the opportunity to trial different roles whether it be cleaning or supervising staff so they can develop a rounded understanding of the industry and they can choose what path they want to take from there.
“I’m really proud of the whole company and the culture Stephen created. I love working with our people and they like working with us. At the end of the day, you’ve got to love where you work.”
INCLEAN September/October 2018