Two sisters took over a $300 million business. Here’s how they run it as co-CEOs


On Family Business Day, Forbes Australia sits down with sisters Amie and Belinda Lyone, who took over their father’s business, $300 million workplace solutions firm COS, in 2021 as co-CEOs.
Belinda and Amie Lyone are co-CEOs of COS, a $300 million workplace solutions firm. Image source: Supplied

When Dominique Lyone, founder of the $300 million Australian workplace product solutions firm COS, stepped down as CEO in 2021, daughters Belinda and Amie knocked their heads together to figure out who was best suited to the job. Then they realised: they both were. They share their thoughts on leadership and success with Forbes Australia.

You’re co-CEOs of COS – how do you navigate the dynamic as sisters while being joint heads of a business?

Belinda – We have been working together for 17 years, and we’ve had to focus on the separation of family and work actively. The first thing is to recognise that we have multiple relationships and give time and energy to both sides of the relationship. 

Amie – We have agreed on a few rules which we make sure we stick to, including never discussing work on the weekends and making time to be sisters and having quality fun time together outside of work.

You joined the business 20 years ago and inherited the helm from your father – what skills did you need to acquire to be ready for this position?

Amie – I joined the business 20 years ago, and Belinda joined a few years after. There wasn’t a plan to take over at the time. However, we both had skills that the business needed at the time, and we entered the business to help set up divisions.

Belinda – After 10 years of working together, we passed Dad’s ‘capable and interested’ test, and we agreed that we wanted to take over the business, and Dad would step up into a chairman role. The succession preparation began three years in the lead-up to the transition and included: working with strategic advisors, personal development and executive education and networking and learning from other CEOs.

The company is almost 50 years old – and in that time, a lot has likely changed. How do you stay on top of trends and plan for the future?

Belinda – The way our customers’ work has changed a lot over the past five decades. The key to staying on top of trends is strong customer relationships. We actively listen to our customers and keep in touch with how their teams are working and which products and categories they are using to stay healthy, safe and productive.

As a family-run business, what values are most important to your employees?

Amie – As a privately owned family-run business, we find employees connect most to our family values and commitment to service excellence. We have six core values: Passionate, Service Excellence, Innovation, Family, Self-Reflective and Results Driven. These six core values are all important drivers of our success, and our employees connect in different ways.


What’s non-negotiable in your daily routine to ensure you’re productive and performing at your best?

Belinda – Coffee, exercise and a balanced calendar!  I am a caffeine and Peloton addict, so that’s how most mornings start for me. Amie is the same, but she has also incorporated morning meditation as a non-negotiable element into her daily routine to ensure she is operating at her best.

We know it’s important for leaders to have a balance of in-it versus on-it time, so we implemented a leadership meeting charter which helps to make sure we aren’t sitting in meetings all day and doing all our work at night.

What’s one of the most important business lessons you’ve learnt as a founder?

Belinda: Focus on what is important to the customer – you can get caught up in internal business processes and projects that ultimately don’t add any value to the customer, which doesn’t help you.  If you focus on adding value to your customer, then growth will come.

How would you describe your management style?

Amie – the best way to describe us is owner-operators. As a family business, we are into the detail. We don’t run it from the boardroom and balance sheet. We understand what makes up service excellence, so you’ll see us focusing on the bigger strategies as well as the detail of our product ranging from the shopping experience and what goes out in the delivery boxes. We believe the owner-operators approach is a great benefit to the staff and our customers as we care and recognise how each staff member contributes to the customer experience.

What’s the best investment you ever made?

Amie – We invest a lot of time and money into technology, and it’s always worth it. Some examples of this would be our website and our warehouses. We are obsessed with the customer experience on our website and are tweaking it every week to keep making it better and faster for our customers to find what they need. We know service excellence keeps our customers coming back, so we have invested heavily in the technology in our warehouse across the country to ensure a seamless delivery experience.

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