Entrepreneur Feature Story: Personalized Service

Posted by Kristin Arnold on September 12, 2017

A government bureaucrat becoming an entrepreneur (although not unheard of) is not a common occurrence.  But that is just what happened with Kim Green, the proprietor of Kays Wholesale.

Kim worked for the Capital Commission and Tourism Charlottetown in her early career.  While there, she was always thinking, “How can we be bigger, better, or more effective?”  She was never satisfied with the status quo.

During this period, she always held a dream to operate her own business.  It started with taking over Island Chemicals with her husband, Roddy Willis.  Then she started Kays Wholesale.  Having two businesses gives them the ability to share resources and expertise.

She believes her strong work ethic came from losing her father while young and learning that if you want something, you have to work for it.  As a child, she excelled at selling Girl Guide cookies and was even chosen class Valedictorian in high school.

Some people mistake her name for Kay, it’s not.  The name comes from a successful confectionary wholesaler from years ago.  In fact, Kays Brothers were one of the suppliers I patronized when operating my father’s store at the corner of Kirkwood Drive and Queen Street.
She favored the name because it came with some of the cache required to be successful in the wholesale business.  Kays Brothers ran a successful business for over 60 years, garnering a reputation for personal service and supporting small businesses around P.E.I.  Kim’s business is built on those same fundamentals. She says:
The more successful my customers are, the more successful I can be.
But, success comes with cost. Although she never had a “9 to 5” mentality, she did not fully realize that being a business owner is a 24/7 responsibility.  But this self-admitted workaholic was up for the challenge.

She can often be found on the job seven days a week if that is what her customers require.  She is hands on and expects a lot from her staff,  but nothing she wouldn’t do herself.

Since it is a low margin industry, they do not embrace credit cards.   Transactions are either cash or customers can open an account.  Her focus is to be continually building the business, streamlining processes, and improving service.They currently have a 13,000 sq.ft. warehouse and plan to substantially increase that soon.

By representing over 7,000 small firms, they can offer buying power for small Island businesses.  Kim does acknowledge there are competitors, but none offer her level of personalized service and flexibility. She wants the best staff, but discovered that the best is not always the most educated, or the most experienced.  Her employee philosophy is posted on her wall.  It lists these things that require zero talent:

  • Being on time
  • Maintaining high energy through the day
  • Being open to coaching
  • A consistent work ethic
  • Using positive body language
  • Showing customers a positive attitude
  • Doing more than expected
  • Putting in honest effort each day
  • Being prepared for the unexpected

Kim’s advice for anyone wanting to become an entrepreneur, stop thinking about it, just jump in and do it and continue to invest in your own personal development along the way.

My question for business owners:

How have you structured your business to bring maximum value to your Island customer?

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