Kim and Frank Malone never imagined they would be small business owners, but in five short years they have managed to cement themselves as pillars of their community.

The husband and wife duo own and operate Karinya Diesel Services (KDS), an automotive repair business based in the rural town of Biloela, Queensland, about 120km inland from Gladstone. The business was founded in 2015 when Frank, a diesel fitter by trade, spotted an opportunity to create apprenticeships for people in the area, servicing vehicles that help keep local industries like agriculture moving.

“Frank took the initiative and started KDS to help people to get training, and we have continued doing that for others in this small remote town because there aren’t a lot of [job] opportunities here,” Kim says.

True to its founding values, the company runs programs in the local high school, and provides work experience and skills training to “give a lot of kids the initiative to see what the trade is about”, Kim adds.

Hear more about Kim and Frank’s small business story:

Getting into gear

Business growth was steady at the start as KDS found its feet, but by 2017 it was time to hit the accelerator on their ambitions. However, first they needed to source additional funds to help with hiring more team members, boosting their inventory and smoothing out cash flow. Frank says they had trouble working with a traditional bank because they were seen as too small or a low-income earner.

“They couldn’t see the vision that we had,” Frank says.

So they turned to the internet to explore their options for accessing a small business loan. During their search, Prospa was an immediate standout.

“Seeing videos of how Prospa has helped other small businesses made it feel like our goals were achievable,” Kim says.

At the time, Kim and Frank were parents of a four-week-old baby, but Prospa’s simple application process and supportive lending specialists helped make the process less stressful.

“It was such a relief when Prospa decided to help us, because we were juggling a lot at the time,” Kim says.

“Prospa could help us out straight away – it’s just been easy and helpful, [at a time] when you feel like your business is stuck in a position waiting to take the next step, but you can’t because of lack of funds.”

Hitting the open road

Kim and Frank have topped up their small business loan several more times over the past few years. Most recently, however, KDS has added another one of Prospa’s small business products to their business operation – a line of credit. While their past small business loans helped with large purchases or taking steps to grow the business, the line of credit proved perfect for providing some flexibility and support with cash flow.

Having the line of credit was particularly useful when the business had to account for an unexpected insurance claim.

“We needed a back-up plan at the time to keep things running with the business and to help pay suppliers while we dealt with the claim,” Kim says.

“It’s helped us out in our time of need.”

“I’m proud of what we’ve achieved in the past five years, and Prospa has been there with us for a large part of that.”

Kim says she likes the feeling of empowerment that comes from having access to the line of credit facility, as it gives her more flexibility and freedom to tap into additional funds as needed.

“It’s like an overdraft facility for me – I know once I pay that money back, it’s still there and I can reuse it again if I need to,” she says.

Having access to the line of credit has also made it easier for KDS to take advantage of opportunities as they arise. For example, when Frank needed to purchase another vehicle for the business, they were quickly able to tap into their line of credit to make their purchase and hit the road.

Ongoing access to funds has helped KDS continue its expansion into new service areas and grow the business by 60% in the past 12 months. Frank is also looking forward to exploring opportunities to become an automotive parts supplier for other businesses in the area. And of course, providing work experience and apprenticeships will continue to be a cornerstone of their business.

Kim says it’s all part of a plan to fill gaps within their community and keep opportunities alive.

“I’m proud of what we’ve achieved, and I didn’t think in five years we’d be here,” Kim says.

“They say it takes five years to make a business, and I’m thankful for Prospa for helping us grow these past few years.”