Usher has sights set on top spot

Weekend Gold Coast Bulletin - - BUSINESS - ALIS­TER THOMSON alis­[email protected]

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: Ush­er­

Pic­ture: Tertius Pickard

The Usher Group’s Theo Vairak­taris at its Gaven HQ.

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