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AJ Hightower didn’t necessarily mean to become a business owner.

With a degree in Fine Arts and Illustration behind him, AJ’s passion for creativity and design were first expressed – at least professionally – working in graphic design. This is how he found himself, in his early twenties, working for David & Collette Watson at Kwik Kopy Strathpine as their Graphic Designer.

A few years into it, AJ and his wife Michelle were expecting a baby. AJ needed to think more about his future financial security. He tried to resign from his work at KK Strathpine to take on a higher-paying role. “I handed in my notice, and David and Collette sort of pulled me aside and basically talked to me about one day going into partnership,” said AJ. “At the time, I didn’t really have any ambitions of going into business for myself, but David had been dropping hints about me doing it, which I’d been ignoring. It seemed like ‘well, that’s one way to create an opportunity’. And I guess that’s what really incentivised me.”

A business partnership was born.

Along with a happy and healthy new baby girl, a business partnership with David & Collette was born. And it too soon thrived. Together they invested, 50/50, in a new Kwik Kopy business in Geebung, Brisbane. In the early years, AJ ran the Centre drawing a wage, with Collette serving as mentor and advisor. After about three years, AJ initiated a scheduled buy-out scheme, purchasing the Centre outright within a few years.

“There’s definitely been a lot of opportunities in our life that have come from having this backing us up,” said AJ. “I think financially it’s been very good to us. I don’t think I would have been in the same position if I was just an employee.”

Overall, it would probably be fair to say that AJ’s passions in life centre more around creativity, sustainability and permaculture, than they do necessarily around business. But this is exactly what drives his business success.

A focus on sustainability.

“Kwik Kopy is what I do for work, it’s not my only passion in life,” says AJ. “I have my own hobbies.” For AJ, a passionate advocate of permaculture and sustainability, this means everything from growing his own food, to keeping bees and chickens, making his own beer, gin and jam, and regenerating the bushland on their five-acre property.

Chicken coop – artwork designed and printed by Kwik Kopy Geebung

Beehive with printed decoration

Beehive – artwork designed and printed by Kwik Kopy Geebung


Permaculture is a “whole systems” approach to gardening and life, and you can definitely see this philosophy in the way that AJ runs his business.

“Kwik Kopy is a communications company.”

“I’ve always had that line of thinking that Kwik Kopy is not just a printing company, it’s a communications company,” says AJ. “The way I see the business is we’re a one-stop communication shop: this is where you come to get your design work, your website work, your merchandise and marketing ideas. We just have a strategy of trying to do everything that we can. The relationship I have with my customers is more of a project management relationship.”

Sustainability in his business is also something that AJ is consciously working towards more and more. “We’re definitely on that track now. We’re one of the sustainable printers with accreditation, and we’ve slowly been getting rid of a lot of things like plastic packaging and replacing it with cardboard packaging and paper tapes.”

AJ has recently purchased a warehouse to expand the business, increasing his capacity for signage and large format printing even more. He’s excited about the opportunities, and working hard to get the warehouse ready. But as always, work is definitely balanced with his passion and interests outside work.

“I’ve found it to be quite flexible,” says AJ. “I usually would start work at six or seven in the morning and I’d leave at two. Or if I needed to stay back it wasn’t that big a deal. I’d still be home by dinner. I’ve rarely had to work more than a 40 hour week unless I have a special project on.”

For someone who didn’t really intend to own his own business, it’s a symmetry that fits nicely into a philosophy of a balanced life.

Learn more about how you can run your own Kwik Kopy business.

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