Age: 33 Business Est: 2003 Number of staff: 100 Growth: 62% Turnover: $5.2m
THE traditional big painting contractors are still having nightmares of the day Theodore Vairaktaris put aside a degree in architecture to revolutionise their industry.
What inspired a promising young architect to take on the world of paint?
“The painting industry was still stuck in the traditional idea of a ‘tradie’ running his business out of a briefcase in his car. There was poor organisation and a serious lack of quality control,” says Vairaktaris.
“We’ve adapted more of a building company’s structure to the painting industry where we offer a lot more support to our staff with professional tools and training experience.”
Vairaktaris founded UHK Painters and Decorators in 2003 but really started making waves in 2005 after seeing opportunity in the commercial area and acquiring ‘tiny operating company’ Usher and Sons Painting Contractors for $30,000.
On average the company has doubled annual revenue every year since and is on track to continue this growth rate in 2010.
“It comes down to the company culture I’ve instilled. We are the only painting company who can guarantee the same quality product anywhere in Australia, and clients need to know we’ll be there for them,” says Vairaktaris.
UHK recently moved from their original head office in Southport to a large warehouse in Gaven to better serve more than 100 full-time contractors working across Australia and the occasional client in New Zealand.
“One thing that was very important to me was that I didn’t want to take jobs away from tradesman in those regions,” he says.
Major contracts include painting all Supre, Telstra and other major retail stores and closer to home the Southport-Broadwater Parklands and the Tugun Bypass Tunnel.
Vairaktaris says the company has certainly felt the effects of the GFC but the biggest challenge ahead is maintaining its unique business plan as other major painting contractors begin to mimic UHK’s operational structure.
“We know the big companies have felt us as they are targeting our workers. They know how strict we are with professionalism and presentation.”
The attempted poaching of his painters doesn’t bother Vairaktaris. It is a reflection of how UHK has changed the industry.
“By 2011 we plan on having small offices based in every state in Australia and one in New Zealand,” he says.
What advice does the 33-year-old head of a multimillion-dollar national company have for any young minds looking to enter into the world of business?
“If you see an opportunity to express yourself and live up to what you can achieve, take it,” he says.