Dynamic Duo: Peter & Vasili Tsoutouras
Peter and Vasili Tsoutouras are proud Graussies (Greek-Australians); a father and son duo who run the successful Allstate Pest Control in Adelaide. Vasili is also the president of AEPMA (Australian Environmental Pest Managers Association).
Vasili: You couldn’t ask for a better Dad. He sacrificed so much for me and my two brothers and sisters to give us a great childhood. And he did that while starting a business – Allstate – in 1986, when I was just three years old. I imagine it would have been bloody tough, and yet I can’t ever remember wanting for anything.
As kids we played AFL footy and Dad was always available for us. He was either the team manager or the team coach. We had a good upbringing. He’d take us fishing, or we’d go camping every Christmas at Venus Bay on the Eyre Peninsula.
During the school holidays I’d go to work with Dad for one day a week. I remember cruising around with him in the station wagon to look at jobs. It was a lot of fun, getting to go inside people’s houses.
Dad never tried to push me into the pest control industry. Not at all. He encouraged all of us to do whatever made us happy. I moved to Melbourne when I was nineteen and worked in retail for a year. When I came back to Adelaide I asked Dad if I could work with him and he said, ‘no worries.’
He’s a very gentle person, but he was hard on me at work. He made me earn every cent. I say that with the utmost respect, because he gave me a good grounding in the business. I couldn’t have asked for a better mentor.
Dad is very patient. He would let me stuff up time and time again, so I could learn from my mistakes. And he’s very disciplined. If something needed to be done, he always got it done. He taught me that nothing worth doing is ever easy.
Nowadays we have 40 employees. It’s a different beast to when I started. I don’t leave the office much anymore. Dad is semi-retired, but if I ring him and ask him to help me with something he will be there for me. I try not to talk too much to Dad about work anymore, because why does he need to know something he doesn’t need to know? Why bother him?
Dad lives just three streets away. We’re a close Greek-Australian family. We regularly go to each other’s homes for dinner. We see each other at least three or four times a week.
We get on really well, but he sometimes tells me off about my parenting. This morning he told that I wasn’t allowed to buy my son a quad-bike because it’s too dangerous. I think the happiest I ever saw him was when his grandkids were born.
We talk a lot about fishing and camping, because that’s what we like to do together. At Christmas we’ll go camping for two weeks and meet up with a whole bunch of other families we know.
I’m really lucky to have a father like him.
Peter: Vasili was a good kid; he would always listen and do the right thing. He loved music. Even as a toddler he loved to climb up the stage and sing.
He moved to Melbourne after school. We missed him, but he was only gone for about nine months. When he came back home he asked me for a job. He was a good worker, but I was probably harder on him than anyone else in the business. I paid him worse, I worked him harder, but I wanted to teach him the ropes from the ground up.
We go camping together and he loves it. I also love fishing. Vasili will only go fishing with me when he knows we’re actually going to catch something. He’s not the kind of fisherman who can sit there for hours and be happy.
His shining quality? He’s got Philotimo in spades. Philotimo is the highest of all Greek virtues. It’s about respect and walking the right path. That’s the way I’ve tried to bring him up, and that’s the way we’ve tried to conduct ourselves in business.
It annoys me when Vasili makes decisions about my grandson that I don’t like. I told him this morning I don’t want my grandson getting around on a bloody quad bike. And I don’t like the fact that Vasili himself is a crazy bloody cyclist. Him, my nephew and other son will go out for a 100 kilometre ride on the weekend and the whole time they are away I worry that one of them is going to get bowled over by a car
It’s really nice to visit his house. It’s informal and I get to see his family. His wife is a good cook. So is Vasili. In fact he loves to cook. He makes these homemade pizzas that are really nice. He is a bit of a foodie; he likes the finer things in life.
The happiest I’ve ever seen him was when his son was born. He named him after me so I was pretty chuffed with that. It’s a bit of Greek tradition. The saddest was when my father died. Vasili was named after him. They were pretty close. Vasili gets close to people and I think he is quite sensitive, although he tries not to show it at work.
Lately he’s not been talking to me about work so much. I don’t like it, because I don’t know what the hell is going on. He’ll ring me about the good news, but he won’t tell me about the hard stuff. I like to hear about it all.
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Find Peter and Vasili at Allstate Pest Control in Adelaide.