Sunday, August 2, 2015

Leading Green Manufacturer Started By A Kid From Crete!

"Did you know that out of all the ethnic groups in the United States, the Greek-Americans have proven to rise above the rest and become number two in business success? Why is that, do you think? Isn’t it about time we start uncovering these Hellenic gems in our society and let their shining glory lead us by example to follow, both locally and in the rest of the world – specifically and most importantly now, in Greece?"

This excerpt comes from an article about the current CEO of an American company by the name of Earth Friendly Products. The interesting aspect is that this CEO, Kelly Vlahakis-Hanks, is half-Greek and half African American. Her father, Eftychios Van Vlahakis, had founded the company in 1967. He died in 2014 at age 89

It really pays to google the background of the family and its company. A classic Greek-American immigrant story: born in Crete in 1935; emigrated to the US at age 18 with 22 dollars in his pocket; odd jobs to survive; clever enough to go to college; eventually PhD degree in chemistry; lost his job at 31 and took this opportunity to start his own business as a one-man show; today the leading green manufacturer of cleaning products in the US with world-wide distribution (well over 100 MUSD in sales and over 300 employees). Below are selected links but there are a lot more on Google:

The family's story is so colorful that even a movie was made about it: A Green Story. One wonders what this family would accomplish if, today, they decided to move the company to Greece and to conquer the world from there (actually, the CEO implied that they might start a manufacturing facility in Greece 'if the incentives were right').

It shows that the CEO, daughter Kelly, had majored in communications in College and that she has broad experiences in PR, international media and publicity management. She presents her family, her company and herself in an absolutely smashing way!

And a small footnote: it wouldn't be a Greek family story if it didn't also include a bit of drama. It took Kelly only 6 months after their father died to part ways with her half-brother who until then had been the company's president. One does not get the feeling that it was an amicable separation. Since her half-brother is about 15 years older, one can only assume that he had contributed more to the company than Kelly. And now Kelly motioned a Temporary Restraining Order and Preliminary Injunction on its claims for trade mark infringement and unfair competition. In short, sister and half-brother are now suing each other. At issue is an alleged trade mark infringement by the half-brother who started his own business after leaving the company (even though he hasn't sold anything yet). The threat to Kelly's company seems limited because at issue is a business section of the company which registered sales of USD 38,300.37 in 2013, USD 47,528.09 in 2014 and USD 40.278,.75 in 2015 (out of well over 100 MUSD in total sales). Kelly, the publicity management specialist, makes sure that this story does not show up in any of the media reporting about Earth Friendly Products and/or the Vlahakis family. Of course.
the leading green manufacturer of cleaning products in the US - See more at:
the leading green manufacturer of cleaning products in the US - See more at:


  1. The important point being:
    'if the incentives were right'

    Unfortunately, in Greece you still would have to settle with:
    "if the obstaclrs are not too large"

  2. And here's three young Greeks doing well Down Under - Three Greeks nominated for Australian Startup Awards

    At least one the three, Dimitra Markogiannaki, is a recent immigrant.

    Migrants do disproportionately' well because they had the get up and go to do just that - get up and go elsewhere. Similar examples abound from other migrant communities - Irish, Chinese, Vietnamese, Chilean, Lebanese etc.


  3. Sure, Greeks are doing fine in any nation not governed by Greeks. But that doesn't help Greece.

  4. Klaus, among us "Austro/Germanos" I appreciate your responses on on Varoufakis blog. Besides, I have never seen Cerberus, or Dean Passaras respond, if we leave his usual dose of resentment out, on the same semi-rational level before.

    But that may have be since I do not have the background to judge either of you.

    Aside: I am among other things a trained PR adviser, strictly it wouldn't need to be as it is, but since there is a lots of money available it is the way it is.

    And here comes why. A prof in PR and communication definePR, not verbatim: as a tool to shape public perception according to your own needs.

    Ok, I'll look it up in German: Mertens/Westerbakey:"Prozess zur Konstruktion wünscheswerter Wirklichkeit".

    Mind you Klaus Merten adds in his "Handwörterbuch der PR", that the term desirable (wünschenswert) in the larger context of the process of creating desirable realities, may not be defined well enough. ;)

    Further aside.

    Associatively the idea of an avantguarde was on my mind too. Didn't Yanis suggest the Greek have to lead Europe onto the right path now? And we Germano/Austrians should better follow. ... My problem is I do not believe in "leaders". ;)

    And least but not least:

    Since most of us are censored for the above PR and public perception reasons on Yanis blog you may be interested in this: Contradicting Yanis

  5. Herr Kastner - thought you might like these, another person who found it necessary to get up and go.

    Despina Tomadaki's Yatedo page - Despina Tomadaki

    A short video of Despina Tomadaki on her PPP proposals the put together pre-2008 (in English) ==>> TiViPRO.TV - Chaîne TV Administrations, Collectivités : Despina Tomadaki - Ministère de l'économie et des finances ( Évènements : Partenariats Public Privé 2008)

    Impressive multi disciplined academic (polymath ?), worked in both private and public sectors. Just the sort of person Greece needs to come home - if there was a government with the wit to give her a job. I think she may be in Rome now - maybe with the EIB, FAO... who knows.