Business & invest,
Economic overview,
Entrepreneurial culture

Passionate Gold Coaster’s rags to riches story

Marshall Hall | July 16, 2020

Theodore Vairaktaris, who is passionate about the Gold Coast and its business community, has an incredible rags and riches success story.

Growing up in a struggling family living in a Housing Commission home on the Gold Coast in the 1990s, he dreamt of a brighter future. And dream he did.

After deferring university studies, in 2001 he started a painting and decorating business with only $5000 in the bank.

Money was so tight he moved out of his apartment and slept in his Southport factory.

But through incredible hard work, long hours, innovation, perseverance and the support of the entrepreneurial Gold Coast culture, his dream paid off in spades. In November 2019 the company he started, Usher Group, was named the Gold Coast’s Business of the Year in the annual Gold Coast Business Excellence Awards.

Usher Group is now a national leader in its field with more than 500 employees across divisions that cover commercial painting, solid plastering signage, property maintenance, refrigeration services, landscaping and electrical services.

The business specialises in new construction and maintenance projects and works closely with household names such as Multiplex, Hutchinson Builders, Mirvac Group, Sunland Group, Lend Lease and the Westfield Group.

But for Vairaktaris, the success has not changed him. He still has the same down-to-earth caring attitude that his mother instilled in him.

“I will never forget where we came from and what the Gold Coast has done for my family,’’ says Vairaktaris.

“I believe if you just look for them, opportunities exist in our city everywhere. Hard work always pays off!

“The Gold Coast will always be the home for our head office and the Usher Group is a journey in my life I will always appreciate and be very grateful for.”

Vairaktaris certainly practices what he preaches, with Usher Group setting up a charitable fund called Usher Love that currently financially supports over 20 charities as well as helping other community initiatives.

During the COVID-19 crisis Vairaktaris stepped up his efforts to support the Gold Coast business community.

“We haven’t put anyone off during COVID-19, rather we redeployed people who were working in our quieter divisions,’’ he says.

“Rather than having some of our tradespeople sitting at home doing nothing, what we have done is get our people to visit grass roots businesses free of charge to provide them sanitising and other services.

“We have visited ballet studios, gyms and restaurants to sanitise their premises to help them and their customers grow confidence that their spaces are safe.

“I am encouraging our staff to get out there to help their friends and friends of friends’ businesses.”

Vairaktaris is also pushing ahead with his plans for a new head office, to be built next to the M1 at Burleigh Heads.

The 4000sqm property will be home to a state-of-the-art four-level building that Vairaktaris hopes will achieve six-star energy efficiency certification.

“There are very few six-star energy efficient buildings on the Gold Coast and we hope we can become the next,’’ says Vairaktaris.

“People driving along the motorway certainly won’t miss it either, because we hope to make it neon green.”

Vairaktaris says it was an honour for Usher Group to have been named Gold Coast Business of the Year.

“We have had a long journey with the Gold Coast Business Excellence Awards, with Usher Group first winning a monthly award about 10 years ago,’’ he said.

“We have entered year on year as we have grown and eventually, we won the Family Business of Year title in 2018 before winning the big one in 2019.

“The awards are a great form of recognition for the business and all its employees get to share in that.

“After we won in 2019 it was like a party in the office for a week.”

Gold Coast Business Excellence Awards

Entries are due for the monthly awards on the 1st of each month from July through to November, with the annual awards presented at a gala due in late November. Enter online.

Keep up to date with all things Gold Coast and subscribe here.