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Be the good

Be the good

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A passionate perfectionist, Kristy Francis of Lathams Kitchens is embarking on her 25th year in the building industry. An integral part of several HIA committees, she reveals her talent and what keeps her motivated.

Anne-Maree Brown

General Manager of Content

How would you describe yourself? 

Organised! It is essential in everything I do. I strive to be the best version of myself daily, ‘see the good, be the good’ is my mantra. I take my role as a team member and leader very seriously. I always do my best to inject positivity into any environment and motivate and inspire others.

I view myself as caring, compassionate, fun and sometimes a little stubborn. That comes with the drive and determination to be successful in both my personal and work life.

How did you become involved in the kitchen industry? 

I started a full-time job in the showroom at a local kitchen company, assisting clients with design and colours. I immersed myself in it and absolutely loved it.

I purchased my first home at the tender age of 19, and it was tired and needed renovating. Living on my own, I took on some DIY projects to save money. What I learned from those projects is amazing. I was able to apply my knowledge from working in the kitchen industry to renovate my own home. That really cemented my career path and passion.

This introduction to the building industry helped me understand how important my role is at Lathams Kitchens - helping make other people’s dreams become reality.

Meet Kristy Francis, Lathams Kitchens’ Production Manager with more than 25 years’ experience in the industry.

You’ve been with Lathams Kitchens for 16 years; how did you get started? 

Steve and Kim Latham and I were in the same industry circles, and from that, a professional friendship blossomed. Years later, a position became available with them in their Warner’s Bay business, and it was offered to me. I jumped at the opportunity.

They needed a Project Manager (Newcastle’s first Kitchen Project Manager) to assist in their already reputable, growing business. I haven’t looked back. I am now approaching my 7th year as the business’ co-owner. 

As project manager, explain your day-to-day routine. 

When I was first employed, I focused on implementing fail-safe processes and procedures specific to Lathams Kitchens. Once they were established, the role required me to be organised and a good communicator.

I focus on spreadsheets, emails, phone calls, onsite check measures, production planning, ordering, scheduling and liaising with our clients, trades and the Lathams team. 

How did your role change when you became a director and co-owner of the business? 

It hasn’t changed. I have maintained my role as project manager, and I still have the same passion and enthusiasm for my role.

As owners, Steve Latham (Founder) and I also focus on business development and future planning. Our roles are to make sure our business continues to grow, focusing on maintaining our quality and reputation for years to come. 

There are eight in our team – five in the factory, Steve and two tradespeople, Josh and Noah; plus fourth-year and second-year apprentices – Jeremy and Travis. In the office, we have Emma, our designer, Tara, our Office Manager and myself.

We are a great team; everyone is equally valued and important to our business’ reputation and prosperity.

'I love the impact our designs and workmanship make,’ says Kristy Francis.
Steve Latham and Kristy Francis with one of their recent HIA awards.

What do you love about building kitchens?

As we know, the kitchen is the heart of the home. I love the impact our designs and workmanship make not only on the home but also on our clients’ lifestyles. The functionality of the space is brought to life with aesthetics that are in harmony with our clients and their homes.

We build our custom joinery pieces to last; we only use reputable and quality materials and hardware. I love seeing the finished result onsite, knowing that you are part of a team that has left an individual mark on the client’s home for many years to come. 

How important is it to employ apprentices? 

It’s crucial. Passionate people wanting to learn skills for life is the only way to maintain the beauty of our craft. These skills need to be passed on. In a world of technology and automation, it’s vital that we don’t lose the personal/hands-on element of our trade.

Our apprentices aren’t just knocking up cupboards or on a production line. They are training in all aspects of our industry. We manufacture our custom joinery from scratch and install the finished product onsite. Our apprentices are involved in every part of this process.

Because we offer our apprentices an all-encompassing learning experience, we have a strong relationship with our local TAFE – working together to keep our trade alive.

‘The functionality of the space is brought to life with aesthetics that are in harmony with our clients and their homes.’
‘We build our custom joinery pieces to last; we only use reputable and quality materials and hardware,’ says Kristy.

You’re part of HIA’s Hunter Regional Executive Committee and now the National Kitchen & Bathroom Committee. How do you find that experience?

It’s been an honour to be recognised in the industry and given the opportunity to be a part of the HIA Committees. The knowledge, networking and insights from being a part of the committees are invaluable. 

As custom kitchen builders, we have experience building and renovating homes, not just cabinetmaking. We work with various trades, giving me a perspective of our industry that I can bring to the table not only on the committees but in my own business as well.

What are your passions after work?

Like most people, family and friends are my world. I have a Jack Russell named Boston. He keeps me active and entertained. I always have music playing, and I love my cars.

 

Join the club

Joining a HIA committee could help you exchange ideas, develop policy, and take action to support and improve the business environment. To get involved and learn more, Join one of our committees today.

First published on 5 April 2024

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