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Spotlight on Kate Newman

Kate NewmanTodd Newman Builders is a family owned business operated by Todd and Kate Newman. Based in Central Victoria, this expanding business provides building services both locally and throughout the region. Todd Newman Builders are domestic builders who specialise in design and construction of new homes, town houses, architectural projects, renovations and alterations.

More recently, the business has expanded to include a facilities maintenance function primarily servicing the major fuel company BP both on a domestic and regional capacity. The light commercial market includes shop fitouts, commercial interiors, industrial upgrades and refurbishments, design and construction of warehouses, factories, industrial shedding. Employing 12 staff, Todd Newman Builders has been in operation since 2003.

Kate was awarded the Victorian HIA Business Partner Award for 2012. Nominated by her husband Todd, he said "Kate has been able to significantly contribute to the overall success of the business whilst at the same time being an amazing mother to her children aged 1 – 8 and supportive wife. Success, teamwork, being passionate in your business has to start from an everyday solid family foundation and this is what Kate provides. The stability and support she provides to her family has a significant impact on the ultimate success of the family business."

Five questions with Kate Newman:

  1. How did you get started in the building industry?

    We commenced our business in 2004. I was still working as a registered nurse and we had just had our first baby.

    Todd gave me the job of admin lady which was interesting because I really had no idea of how to drive a computer and didn’t have a business or administrative background.

    It's amazing how quickly you can learn things when you are made to.

    The role I had originally was just a sideline to my own nursing career but over time, the more I learnt about the building industry and small business the more passion I had for the job.

    We also started building homes for ourselves (as you do) and I really enjoyed having an idea and vision and seeing it come to life in bricks and mortar.

    It's a very rewarding industry.

  2. What is a typical day?

    Well, with four kids and a business no day is typical but I will try and think of a good day and give you a descriptor of that.

    My day starts early with a visit to the gym before the kids wake up. I find this really switches me on mentally and physically.

    I come home to get the kids off to school and daycare and then my work day begins.

    I always check emails first and respond to what I need to.

    I have a meeting with office staff to discuss the workloads and check how jobs are progressing if there are any major issues that need to be followed up on etc.

    Todd and I then will go over his meetings and appointments that have been organised for the week and any staffing issues that may need to be addressed.

    I spend time with Glenn making sure all of our maintenance jobs are up-to-date and things are running smoothly.

    I will then spend time with our bookeeper Anne-Marie going over accounts, sorting invoicing and any other admin duties that need to be overseen.

    I will then go about following up with sales and marketing tasks that need to be completed.

    Staff meetings are run by me and OHS is a big issue so I am always trying to stay up-to-date with all information involved in this ever evolving part of the business.

    My day flies by and soon enough its time to pick up my kids from school and daycare and put my Todd Newman Builder’s hat off and my mum hat on.

  3. What lessons have you learnt?

    I feel like I learn a new lesson every day.

    I think you have to be open to the roller coaster of small business and be prepared for an ever changing environment. We have gained a lot from the power of positive thinking. We had one really difficult, not so great year and it felt like everything had been negative - so the next year we went in with a really positive attitude and mentally drummed it into ourselves that we would see the positive in any situation, even if it was bad. And due to this we feel like it was a real turning point in our business. We had an amazing year we even took the negatives and looked at what we were doing wrong and how we could make it better. We continue to follow the positive attitude we surround ourselves in business and life with people who have a positive outlook and we really feel this helps get through the tough times.

  4. Any tips for new business partners or people starting out in small business?

    My advice would be:

    • Do something you are passionate about because then it will never feel like work
    • Don’t be scared to take risks
    • Employ people who are smarter than you and you enjoy being around because at the end of the day it's a long working life and you want to surround yourself with staff who make you smile not frown
    • Be diverse in your chosen business because of the uncertainty of our economy its always good to have another branch of your business to fall back on if your bread and butter isn’t delivering
    • Treat your staff well and aim to bring out the best in them and they will repay you in doing the best job they can
    • As a business partner know your own strengths and weaknesses and your partner’s as well. Try and define your roles as much as you can so you work together as a team not as individuals.

    Kate Newman 

  5. Future plans for the business?

    We are making new plans every day, I married a business partner who gives 110% all the time so we are always looking at what the next step will be.

    We are looking at maintaining our staff and ensuring they are happy to continue working for us. We see our maintenance work expanding and so we are looking at setting up a separate company for this.There are lots of opportunities to make this happen.

    We love domestic housing and over the last year have done some architectural projects that have been very rewarding so we would also love to delve into this market more.

    We want to maintain our great work life balance and enjoy our kids and make life for them the best it can be.

Kate represented Victoria in the National BPN Awards presented in Brisbane in May this year.