KANDY Outdoor Flooring - President, Co-Founder, Kelly Niessen

Date: MAY 28th, 2014

Topic: Interview with a CEO

KANDY is Kelly’s brainchild and her energy, intellect and commitment to excellence keeps the KANDY brand moving forward and on track. From setting the strategic direction for the Brand, to researching the best products, to directing the manufacturing and distribution process, Kelly’s leadership is the key reason for KANDY’s success. Her extensive entrepreneurial and strategic sales experience includes: President of Prospects Influential; Executive Search and Management Consultant with Davies Park and Caldwell Partners; executive roles in sales for Please Mum, Sprint and TELUS. This depth of experience, along with her BA and MBA means the right business decisions at the right time. She’s a competitive squash player and all round athlete and can often be found hiking, snowboarding at Whistler, or mountain biking. Kelly also loves romantic candlelit evenings, in bare feet, on her condo balcony.

BeTheBoss.ca: Tell us about the KANDY Outdoor Flooring concept.

Kelly Niessen: Well, we’re in the midst of a massive urbanization trend in Canada. That means more small space living, and that means Canadians are looking for ways to make use of every inch of space.

It’s easy to find the companies that specialize in bathrooms, smaller furniture, and closets. But many people don’t even know they have options for their condo balconies! And here’s the thing about people who choose the condo lifestyle: they aren’t typically the do-it-yourself types, and if they are, they don’t have anywhere in their condos to store tools!

KANDY Outdoor Flooring is an experiential service company that provides and installs floating, interlocking outdoor flooring for condo balconies. From their first call to KANDY to the completion of their very own outdoor floor design and beyond, our commitment is for a quality experience. We’re proud of this service excellence commitment and it is serving us – and our clients – well!

Matching our customer service excellence is our product quality. We have researched, manufacture and carry only the highest quality interlocking floating flooring products on the market.

BeTheBoss.ca: How and when did you become involved with KANDY Outdoor Flooring?

KN: For us, it all started in 2011 with the purchase of a condo with a typical small deck on the other side of floor to ceiling windows in the living room. We renovated and updated the inside to match our style and taste and when it came time to do the same with the balcony flooring, we found no options. We needed something that would not contravene strata by-laws (nothing can adhere to the floor or building) and we wanted service along with some choices of high quality, aesthetically pleasing solutions. We looked and researched and researched and looked and concluded that there was simply nothing available.

We realized that this was a completely un-served market niche and we did our research to confirm the market size. We found that there is a significant market given the explosive trend toward urbanization in Canada. In fact, multi-unit housing starts have dwarfed single unit starts for the past 15 years and now, almost 20% of Canadian households are made up of owner occupied condos.

To address this niche, we started KANDY Outdoor Flooring in 2012 intent on providing our customers with what we wanted but couldn’t find: service coupled with quality choices that meet strata and condo by-laws. We are now the experts at expanding home experiences™ with new outdoor flooring for condo balconies. We aim always to help our customers to avoid the frustrations and effort we went through. We’ve expanded ourselves from Vancouver to Toronto and Ottawa, and are continually evolving and improving. We are currently inviting a select number of Franchise Partners who align with our purpose and core values to join in the growth of our brand.

We are continually researching the best products available, and the best manufacturers for our products, and are proud of the fact that we offer the best selection of the highest quality outdoor floating floor systems available today. We are an experiential service based company who happens to have an exemplary and proprietary product line. And by the way, our condo balcony rocks.

BeTheBoss.ca: What was your background prior to joining KANDY Outdoor Flooring?

KN: I have been working my whole life to be ready for the opportunity that I have found with KANDY Outdoor Flooring. Everything I’ve done has laid the groundwork and led me here. I held executive roles in large, small and medium sized companies. I bought my first company nearly 10 years ago and am applying what I learned through that experience on a daily basis. I’m a firm believer in life-long learning, achieving a UBC Marketing Diploma, BA and MBA while moving my career forward. I’ve also been – and remain – active in my community. I spent ten years on the Board of Directors for the Forum for Women Entrepreneurs and have served on the Board of Directors for the BC Sports Hall of Fame and the BC Advanced Systems Institute.

BeTheBoss.ca: What are some of the advantages in being a KANDY Outdoor Flooring franchisee?

KN:

  • Provide a new and unique offering in a new, growing, and substantial market where there is virtually no competition.
  • Operate your own company with very low overhead/fixed costs, healthy income and earning potential, and ongoing support from a fantastic brand.
  • Strong brand, web, and social media presence to aid with credibility, visibility, and to drive leads.
  • Unlimited marketing and sales opportunities through B2C, B2B, commercial and residential applications with strong referral opportunities due to intense customer satisfaction.
  • Provide customization of the product only and not the current infrastructure. This results in several benefits:
    • Product is considerably more than labour in the ratio of total project costs (the reverse of most renovation
    • Since the costs are predictable, it is possible to give customers a firm estimate, which is a unique differentiator in the market.
    • Franchisee has total control and predictability of labour requirements for ease of scheduling and resource allocation or outsourcing.
    • Liability is virtually eliminated since customization is of the product only, and not the customer premises.
  • The feeling of intense pride with total customer satisfaction and astounding results.

BeTheBoss.ca: Who is your ideal franchisee?

KN: KANDY Franchise Partners come from all walks of life, but they share a common desire: to expand home experiences, and thus quality of life, for community residents.

They share our passion for liveable outdoor space, many actually live in condos, and all share our purpose and core values, along with other important characteristics and circumstances.

They:

  • Will live and breathe the KANDY purpose and core values
  • Have acute business sense
  • Are willing to and successfully complete KANDY University
  • Have a passion for condo living and the outdoors
  • Desire to be part of a team, as franchise owner, and to grow a national brand
  • Will commit to KANDY standards of excellence across all areas
  • Bring a strong personal and professional support network
  • Have appropriate financial resources

We also know this franchise opportunity would work really well for couples who want to work together and perhaps build a little more lifestyle flexibility. There is seasonality to this business in most Canadian markets – for us this presents a perfect opportunity to take a nice long winter holiday and work on strategy for the upcoming season!

BeTheBoss.ca: Tell us a little about the condo balcony outdoor flooring Market?


KN:

  • According to the Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC), KANDY’s target market (condominiums/multi-family residential) is growing at a much higher rate than the overall market and its percentage of the total is on the rise as well.
  • In 2012 in Canada, 75 per cent of homeowners cited their reasons for renovating as wanting to update, add value, or to prepare to sell their home.
  • According to the National Home Builders Association, a major design trend that has emerged in 2013 is the outdoor space as an extension of living space. Whether for a single-family house or a multi-family building, homebuyers are looking for private outdoor spaces that blend seamlessly with the indoor ambience. This trend cuts across geographic regions, being as true in the colder sections of the country as in the warmer, milder areas. Outdoor flooring plays an important role in this trend.
  • And an aging population in Canada means an increase in ‘empty nesters’ and a trend toward downsizing into condo life. The downsize means that people have more disposable income to spend on making their condo spectacular.

BeTheBoss.ca: What are some of the greatest lessons you’ve learned in growing this franchise?

KN: I guess the two biggest lessons fall under the categories of “focus” and “culture”.

The more focused we stay on the condo balcony market, the better we are at serving our customers…. We are always getting asked to be involved in other types of outdoor spaces… and while we can and do serve some clients with patios or decks, and also commercial applications, condo balconies remain our clear focus.

We’ve also learned to make our culture work for us. The people we invite to join our brand share our commitment to our purpose and core values.

Here they are:

KANDY’s core purpose is to Expand Home Experiences™. We do this for every single satisfied client. Our beautiful new outdoor flooring creates additional, usable square footage that wasn’t attractive before.

Our core values guide our decisions and interactions.


  1. Bring out the best in everyone. Inside the KANDY brand, and outside to our clients and collaborators, we aim to create positive experiences to bring out the best.
  2. Be the solution. No shuffling off challenges or problems to someone else. We are accountable, at every level of the KANDY brand. If there is a challenge, we work to find creative solutions. If there is a problem, we fix it. Period.
  3. Deliver on every promise. We absolutely know, 100 per cent, that KANDY Outdoor Flooring “expands home experiences”. We watch it happen with every client, every single time.
  4. Passion for condo living. We love our urban towers in the sky and the lifestyle that comes with multi-family dwellings. We love the collective convenience, the collegiality, and the community that is condo living. It’s more than talk. Every KANDY representative and every KANDY franchisee either has lived, has loved ones who live, or currently lives and thrives in a condo. We walk the talk.
  5. Ever evolving. Change is the only true constant. We embrace it, welcome it, look for it, cultivate it. Frankly, we thrive on it.

These may not be for everyone, but they are ours and we are passionate about them.


BeTheBoss.ca: Do you have a mentor and is there someone you use for inspiration?

KN: In this business, what really inspires me is the consistent creation of customer satisfaction… and the realization of our “core purpose” of expanding home experiences™ . Our clients want our services, enjoy the results, and it is incredible to be surrounded day in and day out by this positive energy.

In terms of a mentor, it is David Reeve. David is a key mentor for me, for the brand, and our entire team when it comes to building our culture. David is guiding us to build our culture by design, not by default. He is helping us articulate our goals and create the roadmaps to achieve them… and he is a calming voice of wisdom with many years experience in successful franchise businesses.

BeTheBoss.ca: What advice do you have for someone looking to acquire a Franchise?

KN: Two pieces of advice, really:

  • Make sure you have an interest and a passion in the core ‘ACTIVITY’ you’ll be engaged in in your new franchise. Just because you like to eat pizza doesn’t mean you are well suited to a pizza franchise.
  • Also it is really important to make sure that the core ‘values’ of the organization align with your own.

BeTheBoss.ca: In your opinion, why do you think that KANDY Outdoor Flooring would be a great opportunity for someone?

KN: ‘Cuz it’s so much FUN! ? Here’s just a partial list!

  • First mover advantage.
  • High referrals.
  • Low overhead.
  • Home based.
  • Unique 100 % control over labour cost.
  • Instant and significant results for customers.
  • Lifestyle flexibility
  • No royalty fees
  • First in class/new industry class
  • Availability of exclusive territories – lots of choice
  • Innovative approach to new market not currently being served
  • Opportunity to get in early and help build the next big brand
  • Early adopters can expect unprecedented access to leadership team
  • Purpose and core values that guide all actions and decisions
  • Seasonality – a positive!
    • Maximum lifestyle flexibility and balance
    • Time for strategic planning
    • Earn your year’s income in 9 months!
  • Focused on growing condo market
  • Simple to run and operate – it’s not rocket surgery
  • Low cost/no bricks and mortar - set up your home office up and work from home!