We really wanted to do something unique and more in-depth than your typical "top 10 marketing mistakes you are making" types of blog posts. From this desire, we landed on creating a video series that spoke to the challenges and success stories of entrepreneurs and business leaders in our community - straight from their mouths.
Checking in with real people. Real businesses. Real stories.
In our fourth episode, we continue to explore this concept and bring in an old friend - Catherine Pynappels.
We hope you enjoy it. If you have any feedback on what you would like to see and hear in these videos, don't hesitate to reach out here or leave a comment in the Youtube comments.
If you are looking for earlier interviews, you can check them out below:
Nikki: On this episode of CSEKING IN, I want you to pay particular attention to Catherine’s comment around mentorship. I think it was a real catalyst in what kept her grounded and made sure that she had to achieve nothing but success.
And today, we’re joined with Catherine Pynapples of Lending Max, a mortgage broker of almost three years.
Catherine: Getting close, yep!
Nikki: Thank you for joining us, Catherine. So full disclosure, you have worked with me in an employee/employer relationship in a previous time. So, I have a little bit more comfort level with you and a knowledge about you than most people that would come in and sit with me and talk with me in our series ‘Cseking In’. So, I can tell a little bit about you and then you can correct me. I know you are a Doula and you came from Radio of about seven years, selling and went to bed one day and woke up and decided to be a Mortgage Broker.
Catherine: No… pretty close. There was the part from Radio to KelownaNow and then..
Nikki: Sales, yes. But being a Mortgage Broker, I mean you have to sell why someone would pick you to underwrite their mortgage versus someone else in the marketplace, and it’s a pretty competitive marketplace.
Catherine: I agree, it completely is.
Nikki: So I’m curious, more so about the Catherine and the business component than the Mortgage Broker component.
Catherine: Most people are.
Nikki: So Sebastian, your husband, owns Kelowna Cell Repair.
Nikki: So entrepreneurial, you guys need to depend on the income and I don’t know how long he’s had Kelowna Cell Repair, but it’s been for as long as I remember. For a two income-earning household, for both of you to be self-employed.. wow. What were some of the decisions that you were making? Why did you look at being a boss of yourself versus, an employee.
Catherine: Well, Kelowna Cell Repair was started around 12 years ago. My husband learnt how to repair televisions and VCRs, his family had a business in the Netherlands and then brought that business over here. Alltronics, here in Kelowna and my husband was raised with his brother working in the shop and Sebastian got his certificate in Aircraft maintenance and ending up going into Sales because the money was better and he had worked in the cell phone industry. There were people that just kept coming in with broken phones that couldn’t afford a new phone, so he started bringing phones back to the house and repairing them. Just out of mind, this was before Google videos or anything could teach you how to put on a new screen, but it became so busy and I was home with a new baby that I just didn’t want anymore people coming to the house to pick up their phones. So we leased a little space down on Bernard and that’s where we’ve been ever since and it’s just been such a busy little shop. So, that business got successful enough where I was either able to stay home with my babies or make the choice that if I didn’t want to work as much, I didn’t need to. It was important for me to attend all of the special things that my children needed me to be at. So, I made the decision to get my broker’s licence to be a Mortgage Broker and to go out on my own.
Nikki: So, you had a hand in Kelowna Cell Repair, so you had a taste of entrepreneurship and business, and startup, and challenges, and doubt. So, lots of the businesses that I meet with, many business people are successful by accident, it isn’t done on purpose or with intent and there isn’t a master plan that got them there. So, it almost sounds like the story of Sebastian doing it off the side of his desk, that it just came to be on its own and you guys kind of went with it.
Catherine: Totally, 100%.
Nikki: So you had a taste of business success, big success, entrepreneurship. When you were coming back into the workforce, so the decision to look at being your own boss was solely through the lens of being able to be part of what the kids are doing?
Catherine: For me, yes. It actually was a visitation with one of my bestfriends that had a successful brokerage and really wanted to have a second baby but didn’t want to have her business be run by somebody that she couldn’t trust or didn’t know well enough to trust with this business that she built here. Which is when she proposed to me to go to school and she would take me under her wing and she would teach me how to be a Mortgage Broker and then in turn, I would look after her business while she was away. Which is what I did when she had her baby, after I got my licence, she trained me for about another six months. She left, got to stay home with her child for a year, and then she returned back and now we’re hitting deals on together.
Nikki: Okay, so this is cool. For you to go back to school, that’s a big ask. How many times during your courses did you have doubts? Did you wonder if you could do what you needed to do to have success?
Catherine: I couldn’t even count the times. I was tired, I was working full-time, I was studying, I was dealing with all the kids’ sports activities/school activities. Studying in the evenings was not working well because you’re tired, so I had to put a different plan in action but I had a great mentor that helped me through. So I was lucky in that way when I did go back to school that I did have somebody that could help guide if I needed the help. But many times, it was very hard. I found it difficult but I’m glad I did it!
Nikki: So then the other thing that I heard when you were describing sort of how that scenario came to be, you actually got to do an “Off Broadway”. You went, you got your training, you got your license, you were able to step up into a position that had a client base and let you do your live learning, your real learning, that’s rare. Do you think you would have stepped into the industry without that path?
Catherine: No. There’s no way, no.
Nikki: So now, okay so she was on maternity leave for how long?
Catherine: For a full year, a little bit over that actually.
Nikki: So you were cutting your teeth for a year. You had lots of resources to rely on to help you with her portfolio. And now you get to be out on your own?
Catherine: Yeah, yup. Now I have the opportunity that she’s returned, she’s looking after her book of business and I’m beginning to grow mine and I’m starting to see my referrals come in from clients that I’ve done mortgages for. Just connecting back into the community and just getting a chance to be myself again. I kind of hid behind the desk for a good year because she had a high volume of business and I didn’t want to bite of more than I could chew. So, I had one focus and that was to swim and not sink in all of her files that were coming in the door.
Nikki: So Catherine, it’s a big leap to do something like that. Like not many people are willing to jump into the deep end and I think you did. And from lots of different places, from both of you being entrepreneurs and that income not being guaranteed. I mean there are a lot of risks associated with that so, how do you think you navigated that or does it have to with your characteristics and your traits being very driven, like there was no option for failure? Or what do you contribute to the success that I think you’ve already seen, and the success that I know you are going to have moving forward.
Catherine: Again, it’ll go back to my partner, Michelle. She was very hard on me in the training and processes that needed to be in place because she had ten years of making different errors in her earlier years that she had taught me as a new Broker ahead of the game. So, all of these different safety caches were put into place.
Catherine: Savannah just tell them I’ll call them back. (laughs)
Yeah, so I made a promise to a best friend is ultimately how I stayed. There were stressful times when I first was on my own. If things start to go sideways, I’m accountable for it, I need to do a good job on these files, these people need this money for these purchases or refinances to happen. So there were stressful times but the guidance of my girlfriend kept me in the game and I didn’t give up, sometimes I wanted to but ultimately, because I made a promise to her, so she could be home with her children.
Nikki: So was there a time where that white towel was in hand and you were ready to toss it in? Was there ever that close to the cliff moment?
Catherine: I wouldn’t say that close. High anxiety, just questioning if you’ve done something right or maybe a file starts to go a little bit wonky but now I know that all files.. They all can go a little bit wonky and it’s okay to question things. So if a lender came back to me and was questioning something, it doesn’t mean the deal is dead. I can question them back and state a case for my clients and continue on with the deal, so, I’ve learnt how to do that as well.
Nikki: Would you consider yourself successful right now, into your standards of what you would consider a successful business journey?
Catherine: Yeah, I do. I feel really confident when I’m talking with my clients. I feel confident in knowing that I can help them get to where they need to be or I can help them do what they need to do today that they’re asking of me. Yeah, I do.
Nikki: Are you going to grow your business, do you want more people within your team or do you like it exactly the way it is?
Catherine: The way it is, I wouldn’t hire a team.
Nikki: And, is there something that you would want to share with someone that was contemplating creating the lifestyle that they wanted through being an entrepreneur or being self employed?
Catherine: I would say, attach yourself to someone within the industry that is experienced, open, understanding and is willing and ready to train you in the industry, which is hard to find, there’s not a lot of people that would do that. Do the research, where is the market going? Is it trending? You want to do things that are going to make you happy, so will it fulfill what you want on the inside, outside of your career as well? Is there a good balance, before you jump in? Those aren’t things that I checked into, I just went “Oh, I can work when I want. I’ll work for my girlfriend and it’ll be all good.” But it was actually quite a stressful process but I didn’t do a lot of research because I had somebody presenting an offer to me. But for somebody that is going out on their own, really doing your research and trying to attach yourself to somebody else that has that experience in the industry.
Nikki: Any regrets or anything you’d do different than you did over the last three years?
Catherine: Well, coming into Landmark 6, and seeing this beautiful building, makes me go “Hmm should I have left KelownaNow?” (laughs) However, I am enjoying what I’m doing, now that I have the full confidence to truly achieve peoples’ mortgage needs makes me feel really good to help people bridge that gap and guide them through the process of financing. So it makes me feel really good, so I don;t have any regrets.
Nikki: Catherine, you’re amazing, and it is an honour to know you and I’m so privileged you came in to share with us today. Thank you.
Catherine: Thanks, Nikki!