Totally Workwear Cairns
25 Years On And Still Raising The Bar In Retail
TOTALLY WORKWEAR is more than just a workwear outlet. The Scott Street business which is locally owned and operated has become the house of brands to many workers in Far North Queensland. This year the business celebrates its 25th birthday, delivering everything from corporate clothing, business casuals, footwear, hospitality, medical and industrial garments, as well as PPE equipment.
Twenty-five years in business for owners Chris and June Kingsbury has seen many highs and lows, none more challenging than the COVID-19 pandemic. But as they move the next generation into the business with their daughter Jenni, their business experience has meant they have bucked the national retail trend and still grown their business while others went backwards. It’s a remarkable achievement in anyone’s book, but one the Kingsbury family take all in their stride.
We caught up with the family behind the name and found out what has seen them stand the test of time.
CHRIS: Over the years we have experienced a lot as a business, and I guess one thing experience and time teaches you is that the downtimes always pass and that marketing your products and services in the community regardless of what the economy is doing is paramount. I am also a big believer that when it can be easy to just cut costs to get through those tough times, cutting back is not always the best decision. Meeting the needs of our customers and making sure they are adequately serviced with quality products have always been non-negotiables for me. Our customers are the heart of our business and it is with their support that we have managed to grow so much over the years. That is never lost on me.
JUNE: Chris and I have always worked as a team. He’s happier fronting the business and working with the marketing team and big picture thinking while I have always been happy working within the team environment and allowing my creativity to flow with the staff and the customers to meet their needs with custom designs, corporate branding and the latest technology to do things better such as custom sublimation designs. All of this has come such a long way over the years. The sky is really the limit as to what you can achieve for workwear these days. So that still excites me when we can give our customers something unique that makes their business really stand out from the rest.
JENNI: I am really proud to be taking on a more active role in the business now as General Manager, I have learnt so much from my parents over the years in business and one thing that has always stood out to me with them is their commitment, unflinching dedication to service our customers rain, hail or shine and their willingness to constantly think outside the box. Their strong work ethic has been instilled in me and their community spirit and support of other locally owned businesses is really something else. They are incredibly generous people.
When the professionals of Cairns gear up to go to work each day, there’s a good chance they’ll be wearing something from Totally Workwear.
The second longest running franchise in the Totally Workwear group, the Cairns store was voted store of the year in 2015 at the group’s annual conference, seeing 20 per cent growth in that year alone and a steady upward sales growth ever since.
“It was a colossal sense of achievement,” says managing director, Chris Kingsbury.
“We’re by far the highest performing store in our group, we even outperform Sydney, and our market acceptance has been very gratifying. That’s all thanks to the people of FNQ. We have such loyal customers.”
Selling a wide range of workwear, corporate wear and safety gear by brands you know and trust the store services an area spanning Cardwell, the Gulf and Cape York with a staff of 23.
“Like everybody in businesses, we pride ourselves on our service. We do boots to suits,” he says.
You’d be hard pressed to find a person that lives and works in the region that isn’t aware of the brand, having had a strong market presence and a generous community spirit since its inception the Kingsbury family say they are all about supporting those who support them – the local community.
Chris Kingsbury attributes TWW’s success to a consistent marketing presence that has achieved top-of-mind brand awareness and never allowing themselves to think small.
“What’s the old saying, when the going gets tough, the tough get going. There’s not a single year where we haven’t grown. We’ve kept our foot on the pedal post GFC and during COVID, even in lockdown, we continued to stay open and keep our staff working and our essential working customers fully stocked with safety gear and PPE. That’s thanks to strong relationships, quality product lines and excellent customer service I think that’s what’s propelled us forward.
“Our job is to listen and perform. Everyone who works here is taught in one department and then moved around the business to gain broader knowledge.”
Totally Workwear is also a truly family affair, with Chris’s wife June involved in office administration and custom orders while daughter Jenni cut her teeth in the business as office manager and bookkeeper and now has taken on the role of General Manager as her parents are eyeing off semi retirement.
“We’re very proud of the fact it’s become a family business. It’s very rewarding to see a business you’ve built up supporting the next generation. Jenni has been raised in the business, she has picked up so much through osmosis I guess. She’s really taken to her new managerial role like a duck to water,” Chris says.
Adding value to the customer service chain has also been critical to TWW’s ongoing success claims Chris, with integrated computer ordering systems and compliance with internationally recognised Quality Management System ISO 9001:2015 and Environmental Management System ISO 14001:2015.
“That speaks volumes for our benchmarked standards and we’re rushing forward to embrace the digital age very quickly.”
“We’re like a clock with many moving parts. We can get the order into our system very quickly and then place the order.”
Maintaining close working relationships with the many local SME businesses in Cairns is important for Chris and his family. They describe Totally Workwear as a “microcosm” of the greater city.
“There’s such a variety of businesses and trades we provide for. We may apply the uniform for everybody at your local service station, or equally the entire business attire for those employed at your local law firm,” says daughter and General Manager Jenni Kingsbury.
“Not surprisingly, we also kit out quite a few Fly In Fly Out workers, en route to industry jobs from Mackay to Broome,” she says.
Indeed, the secret to Totally Workwear’s success in Cairns has been to totally immerse themselves within the fabric of both the Cairns & FNQ regional communities.
The business was one of the first platinum partners involved with the Cairns Chamber of Commerce and they support several local sporting groups in Cairns, ensuring they are highly visible with also the recent establishment of their very own sporting team across multiple sporting codes named TeamTWW.
“We have cyclists that compete in all the major competitions including Tour of the Tropics, State Championships for BMX and Mountain Biking, we have Ironmen and Ironwomen, rally car drivers in TARGA Great Barrier Reef and even Champion Ballroom Dancers are part of TeamTWW. They have their own Instagram and Facebook handle @teamtww and we manage all of their marketing and support them with gear and entry fees to their comps, they have attracted quite the local following. We are incredibly proud of all they continue to achieve.
“The sporting success the team is having is truly outstanding to watch and there’s something for every member of our staff to get behind and barrack for. I can see TeamTWW going from strength to strength and I have no doubt it will be one of our community legacies.
“Totally Workwear is evolving and growing at a very healthy rate. The key to us going forward is to continually self-improve our processes and the quality of the people who work within the business. But we can’t do any of it without the community’s support and we are forever grateful for their trust and loyalty in us. We hope they are still supporting us 25 years from now,” said Chris.