RUSSELL Kavnat is off to New York to enhance the business leadership skills that have seen him drive a tenfold increase in his printing business.
Mr Kavnat, 32, has been awarded the inaugural Anacacia Yale CEO scholarship to attend a leadership summit.
He became a director of Dashing Printing seven years’ ago after he bought his parents’ 50 per cent stake in the company.
“At that time there were about six people; we now have about 90. It has been a wild ride but it has been good fun,” he said. “We are now 10 times the revenue size that we were 10 years ago.”
When Mr Kavnat joined the company its revenue sat around $3 million and he had an ambitious plan to hit $10m, the revenue is now more than $30m.
“We got to a point where the business either needed to be joined with another business or I needed a proper management team and the next big plan,” he tells The Weekend Australian. “Once we got to that point I invested in a senior management team and brought in a chief executive and chief financial officer.”
He has always had an entrepreneurial bent and at the age of 19 was a reseller of Vodafone and AAPT services in broadband and mobile, which he did for around five years, while studying a commerce degree.
“Someone approached us to sell that business and when I sold I was always going to invest in the next thing,” he said. “I have preferred to be in less sexy industries. I saw the opportunity with Dashing Printing. It had been around a long time; it had a great client base and a great name but there had been no focus on sales and marketing. All of the sales had been coming to them and there was no work on the brand.”
Private equity company Anacacia Capital is sponsoring the scholarship, which is to become an annual award. It is aimed at young talent in Australian companies turning over more than $20m.
Jeremy Samuel, managing director of Anacacia Capital, said Mr Kavnat had done an exceptional job in a tough industry, growing a family business into a major printing business with an outstanding client focus.
“His client focus, drive and growth even during a tough economic climate led us to select Russell to be the Anacacia Yale CEO Scholar for 2015,” he said.
“It’s sometimes easy to make money during good times but it’s never easy to make money during tough times. That requires great management skills, hard work and a total focus on improvement.”
Continued growth for the business was Mr Kavnat’s focus and he said he had found that the company had got to a certain scale that growth naturally accelerated. “You get to a certain size where you get viewed by bigger potential clients as a proper player. I see this as the beginning of the ride, we have a plan to triple our revenue over the next five years and keep growing at the same rate.”
Mr Kavnat said that nothing came without a lot of hard work and his goal over the next few years was to make the business a little less dependent on him.
“Often the external view looking in is it is an easy road and it is not, relaxing is always hard because you are always obsessed with what is going to be happening in your business. It is very hard to turn off.”
Source: The Australian