From husband and wife team, to award-winning nationwide company...
When Arthur Calcatjicos and his wife Kim founded Shining Knight in 1998, it was a small operation they ran while maintaining regular jobs during the day. "We started off ourselves doing a bit of part time cleaning at night, and it has now expanded to 738 staff as well as into all states in Australia," Arthur says.
Today they're the Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer respectively of this thriving business, which has seen its remit grow from solely providing cleaning services to hygiene, waste management, pest control and gardening. More recently in 2016 they added security services to their roster. As well as undertaking all the typical jobs of a cleaning company like cleaning offices and commercial high rise, they also specialise in hard to tackle tasks like restoring buildings after flood and fire damages, and graffiti removal.
Arthur Calcatjicos' role includes overseeing the day-to-day operations of the whole company, directly liaising with existing clients, and building relationships with new ones. These clients are typically in the government, commercial office, leisure, healthcare, and retail sectors, and they've worked with very high profile names like Virgin Active, Coca Cola, Victoria Police and Department of Justice.
While their website has a handy system for customers to put in requests and contact their 24 helpline, as well as an online shop to order products from, they've now gone one step further by creating an app for smartphones. "We believe this is industry breaking," Arthur Calcatjicos says. "No one else in the industry has anything like this. This will help us because it will enable clients to have an app where with the tap of a button they can access cleaners, see who's on site, see previous reports, carry out quality audits or service requests, and contact members of the company directly. It means they no longer have to go back to their PC or anything like that, they can do it all from their mobile phone."
The app took six months to develop and saw them partner with Interactive, one of Australia's largest IT firms who specialise in cloud-based applications.
In addition to their main role as a cleaning company they've produced a range of certified organic skin care products called The Beautiful Life (thebeautifullife.com.au). These are entirely plant-based and the packaging is made from recyclable materials. They plan to export them to the UK and South East Asia. "At the moment they're hot on anything that's organic and coming out of Australia," Arthur says. "They view [Australia] as a very pure source, so we're looking at the trademarking to get into those markets."
The issue of sustainability is of huge importance to them. "All the vehicles in the company are electric or hybrids,” Arthur continues. “We make sure that we implement systems and protocols throughout the whole cleaning operation where staff minimise the use of chemicals, and if they are used they're environmentally friendly."
They've worked in conjunction with local councils to ensure best practice in terms of waste management. To further emphasise their commitment to the environment, they have annual awards to commemorate their eco-friendly efforts. "Every year we hold the Eco Knight Awards where we recognise the work that we've done with clients to reduce waste and recycle."
Another fundamental area is the development of staff, which is a constant process. When employees start out at the company they complete the internal Shining Knight training scheme; after that they're encouraged to continue advancing their skills by studying with other organisations. "We look to external training with diplomas, certificates and degrees," Arthur explains. "We develop a plan with them and set their career goals and paths, and then we aim to put them through that over the years they work at the company." He adds that they like to promote from within, so that staff can see their colleagues being rewarded for their hard work and time which leads to increased loyalty.
The employees' happiness has played a big part in the numerous industry awards they've received. Every year from 2005 to 2014 they've earned a score of over 93 percent in the Australian Achiever Awards (AAA), which rates customer service based on aspects like attitude, care and attention, communication, and time-related service. In 2015, the company won the AAA National Award for the Best Cleaning and Maintenance business in Australia, with a record 98 percent rating.
In 2010 the company was runner up in the Telstra Medium Sized Business of the Year awards, facing competition from 730 other companies. In the same it was a finalist in the Victoria Business Awards. "Awards are important," says Arthur. "We're constantly asking for feedback from our clients and staff. It's a way of someone external measuring our company and saying "yes, you are doing well", that we're the leaders in the industry, and acknowledging that what we're doing is best practise."
In the next few years the plan is to further establish the firm in Australia and move into new territories across South East Asia and the UK. As it grows, the only potential test to the company Calcatjicos envisages is getting the right employees. "Like in any business today, trying to find good people is always the most challenging thing."
For the foreseeable future he doesn't see any reason for them to change the way they operate. "We think we've got a good model and we simply replicate that from one region to another," he says. The company’s expansion so far backs this up, plus, as he puts it, "we love what we do".