Usher has sights set on top spot
A GOLD Coast commercial painting business has undergone a major rebrand as it aims to spread its services and become the number one firm in the sector.
Theodore Vairaktaris started UHK Painting and Decorating in 2001 and three years later bought Usher And Son from the Usher family.
In 2008 he merged the two under the Usher name and this year lopped off “And Son” to form the Usher Group.
Mr Vairaktaris said the change better reflected the full suite of services that the company offers, including painting, rendering, high-rise access solutions, signage and decorating services for private, public and commercial projects in Australia and New Zealand.
His company had a turnover of $80 million with 500 employees in the past financial year and aims to become the second-largest commercial painter in Australia during the current period – overtaking Higgins.
However, Mr Vairaktaris’ ambition does not stop there. He wants to overtake the giant of the sector, Programmed Maintenance, a company with a turnover in the billions.
“We believe we have a better culture, better infrastructure and a better appetite for success than these businesses that have been around for a while,” he said.
“This year it will be a twohorse race for second in FY19.
“Number one better be nervous because we are coming.”
Mr Vairaktaris had been running UHK for three years when the Usher family asked if he was interested in buying them out.
“When I took over they were doing $400,000 in annual turnover. They were a small outfit but really unique, because they specialised in the retail space,” he said.
“I took that model nationally. In that first year we more than doubled the turnover.”
Mr Vairaktaris said Usher had developed signature painting methods, such as a splattered epoxy effect for client Riot Art and Craft Stores, which he was able to replicate.
The next break came in 2010/11 when Hutchinson engaged Usher for the Victoria Towers project in Southport.
“We completed that so successfully that now we are the largest painter for Hutchinson Builders. We work for them across all states in the eastern seaboard,” he said.
To take on the bigger jobs, Usher created a new company called Usher And Son Commercial Coating.
In 2012 it landed the repainting of Jupiter’s Hotel and Casino (now The Star Gold Coast).
Mr Vairaktaris said it had been a massive task.
“It had not been painted in so long, it just drank paint,” he said.
“We went through thousands of litres for that facade. Now it looks amazing.”
Usher then created a maintenance arm so it could look after buildings once the projects were finished.
Mr Vairaktaris said the company expanded to encompasses seven different entities, hence the need for the rebrand.
He said the entities that began life as “bolt ons” to the Usher offering were now their own fully-fledged operations.
“Last financial year was the first Usher And Son Access did more work for other businesses than Usher. Now, it has grown into its own business.”
He said the company’s culture has been a reason for its success. “I love that our national operations manager started with us as an apprentice. I’m proud that our national safety manager used to be one of our painter/renderers,” he said. Founded: 2001 Founder: Theodore Vairaktaris
Business: Painting, rendering, high-rise access solutions, signage and decorating services for private, public and commercial projects in Australia and New Zealand Staff: 500-plus
Turnover: $80m (FY18) Website: Ushergroup.com
The Usher Group’s Theo Vairaktaris at its Gaven HQ.