Bubbling Along In The Great Outdoors

Bubbling Along In The Great Outdoors

Bubbling Along In The Great Outdoors

Anthony Keane

pg 66, Young Money, The Advertiser

A coffee at a cafe on a windy day inspired Colin Kuchel to create a business that has grown from a staff of three to 45 in just seven years.

Kuchel believed the shelter provided by the pull-down blinds at cafes and pubs might also be useful in the backyards of Aussie homes.

He founded Australian Outdoor Living with just a receptionist and part-time bookkepper, and today the business provides blinds, roller shutters, artificial grass, spas, swimming pools and other outdoor products.

Annual turnover has grown tenfold in the past two years to $30 million.

Asked about his secret for success, Kuchel says: "I think it's about our people,

"We managed to, from day one, attract and maintain very strong people.

"I know it sounds cliche but Australian Outdoor Living is genuinely a family of passionate people.

"As we have grown, those people have grown within the company."

Kuchel says business owners should be prepared to take calculated and educated risks, and not afraid to go outside their comfort zone.

AOL did this after suffering supply delays for its products, so it became a blind manufacturer in its own right.

"Manufacturing was a big move for us and a risk, but it paid dividends because we went in there with a fresh approach," Kuchel says.

AOL is an entrant in the 2012 Telstra Australian Business Awards. State finalists will be announced from this week, with South Australia's finalists revealed tomorrow and the winner's on July 20.

State winners will compete at the national awards on August 29.

Telstra business group managing director Will Irving says the awards have been recognising great work for 20 years.

"We've been very impressed by the calibre of the entrants this year, which come from virtually every industry across the small and medium business sector," he says.

Today is the last day for voting for the 1300 Australia People's Choice Awards, which offer $2000 cash prizes in each state and territory.

"Members of the public may vote as many times as they would like before voting closes at midnight tonight," Irving says.