The Greek Eftihios Blahakis and his conquest of the American dream with a Green Story. The story of the 78 years-old greek in the U.S., creator of cleaning »green »products of cleaning, became a movie in Hollywod. The same person, a few days before the premiere, remembers the special moments of his route and reveals that he is preparing to create the first factory in Thiva, in Greece.
The life of the 78 years-old Van Vlahakis as he is known in the U.S.A. relegates to the touching stories of many homogenous Greeks who, with their unique assistance their energy and the greek demon, managed to progress. Today, Mr Vlachakis is the owner of Earth Friendly Products from a sucessful firm producing environmentally friendly detergents. Other 5 factories in the U.S. and many exports to numerous countries.
The products that current with the name Ecos are the first in sales of ecological detergents in America. This impressive route from Hania of the 50s, when his adventure started, until the top of business has inspired the script of the movie »A green story ». The premiere took place in Athens in the 15th of July at »Cine Flesvos ». Especially for the night, Ed O’ Ros, Billy Zane and Mr Vlahakis will visit our country.
His story : His memories as a kid in Crete had influence on him. He was born in Chania in 1935. In 1950 he moved to Athens with his mother and his four brothers and sisters and went to school at the 14th Junior High School. « We were a wealthy familly : My grand-father and my grandmother were doctors and my father was officer in the army, but with the German occupation seizin, we had lost everything » he said to newspaper »Ethnos » . In september 1953, at the age of 18, he reached Chicago with a student visa and only 23 dollars in hands.
At first he slept at asyles for homeless people and worked as a waiter at restaurants, meanwhile he studied Chemistry at Roosevelt University. He got his Certificate in 1957 and for 10 years he worked as a Chemical in various companies who produced cleaning products. »The company I was working for was not going very well and at Christmas of 1966 I created my own laboratory-company with the name »Venus Laboratories ». At the beginning, we produced shampoo’s and conditioners and afterwards, I turned the production to cleaning products, which we gave mostly to factories, hospitals and big institutions. We reached the point where we produced about 100 products.
In 1980, we sold our products, »Nature’s Miracle », which was very successful at pet shop’s because it made the stains left by animals dirt dissapear. The product was a huge success,it gave us up to 300 million dollars and a gain of 30 million dollars which I invested for the expansion of the company. That’s how I created three more factories.So then they became four.
From the beginning, Van Vlahakis was trying to use raw materials who were friendly for the environment. He was affected from a book named »Silent Spring ». The book supported the insect killers and various other chemicals who were not a good solutions. That’s how he gained environmental awareness. One day, he decided to take a risk and change the philosophy and turn to the production of green cleaning products. In 1987, he handed Earth Friendly Products. Ecological turn: »Our products are ecological and their production isn’t based anymore on the oil products but on the coconut tree. Our raw materials come basicly from Indonesia and Africa. Coal one day will end but coconut trees will exist forever…But the main point is that our products are friendly towards humans and the environment and equally good in quality ».
In 1990, in the company my son came Ioannis Vlahakis, who had studied economics. He gave a boost to his father to turn also to the production started to all at the supermarkets. »We started with 3-4 products for house use, mainly for clothes, windows and the floor. We were going well but the launch came in 1999 when our clients became the big corporations Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods and later on the Cosco, Sam’s etc.Then our sales became 4 times bigger in amount. Today we produce 150 products for house-use and we have 5 factories in Ilinois, California, Washington, Miami and New Jersey. As for our secret of success…besides the hard work is the development of one clever network representatives of our company who display our product.
The movie « A Green Story » : « The movie’s idea apperared when my daughter met the director Nika Agiasvili » Greek immigrant at the United States from Georgia and she my life to him. That’s how the idea of the movie »A Green Story » was born » . It talks about the american dream and the greek demon and was filmed in Los Angeles, Chicago, IIlinois and Athens. Nika Agiasvili wrote the script, made the production and was the director. The main role goes to Ed O’ Ross and there are other actors like Billy Zane,George Fin, Malkom MacDaouel, Shanon Elisabeth, Anabella Shiora and the greek Alexis Georgoulis.
The US is a country with opportunies : »I didn’t expect my life to become a movie. I met and talked with the actors and I was touched with some parts when I saw the result. You know, I am and I feel Greek, but I have been leaving in the U.S.A. for 60 years, and I must admit that this country gives many opportunities. I wish that Greece will become like this. I wish to affect the Greeks. In America, the person that deserves prosperity finally flourish and thrive, without cheating . There is meritocracy. Here real oppoortunities are given and you know that from my story. We Greeks improve because except from good and clear mind, we know the basic things and we are educated.
On April 9, 2011, the American Hellenic Council honored Earth Friendly Products owner and CEO Van Vlahakis with the Aristeio Award in Business. This is the bio video in his honor that was presented to all attendees.