Maintaining a healthy attitude to business

IF anyone ever could be accused of taking the expression “practise what you preach” to heart, it would be Evan Kakulas.

For Mr Kakulas not only makes a thriving business from people’s new-found commitment to healthy living, he is a firm believer in the benefits of a healthy lifestyle.

And Mr Kakulas has to look no further than his 91-year old father, Stavros, and 89-year old uncle, Michael, both of whom still come to work every day and are, according to Mr Kakulas, living proof of the benefits of healthy, balanced living.

Seventy two years after Kakulas Bros was started by Stavros and his father, Evan, the business still operates from the original shop in William Street, Northbridge.

Stavros sold his share to Evan in 1990, at which time Evan’s nephew, George Kakulas, also joined as partner, after leaving accounting firm Arthur Andersen. Evan left his law practice to take over the running of the retail store, while George ran the wholesale business.

A fourth generation of Kakulas is now becoming involved in the family business, but second generation Stavros and Uncle Michael still have a big influence, although they have sold their shares to their sons.

“What they say goes. You’ve got to respect your elders. They always give us advice on what to do,” Evan said.

“My father is pretty switched on and astute.”

Evan believes one of the secrets to the business’s success has been the hands-on approach. While the family had contemplated the idea of franchising the businesses, the risk of losing control of the operation was too great.

“My father and uncle built up a lot of good-

will and we don’t want to ruin it,” Evan said.

A growing part of the business comes from those seeking a lifestyle different from the mainstream. Evan believes many Australians also are willing to experiment with foods from other countries.

And, once again, a belief in the quality and benefits of the product is at the fore in the business’s thinking.

Evan has been won over by alternative medicine and organic farming. He points to the prevalence of cancer in today’s society as evidence of the effects of unhealthy eating, and the dangers of chemically treated foods.

Evan spends much of his spare time researching the benefits of certain foods. It has become his hobby, while also benefiting the business.

“Ten years ago I knew very little about organic growing, but you pick up things from people,” he said.

Evan said good presentation of the food was paramount for the business.

“Customers have to be able to see the product and the price. The bags also have to be kept full. People don’t like getting food out of half-empty bags,” he said.

Also important to Evan is the need to do whatever is possible to help people.

This willingness to go that little bit further for customers was, in part, responsible for the Kakulas Bros business winning a Family Business Australia “Fourth Generation” award recently.

His commitment to the community also could extend to returning to the Perth City Council by running for Lord Mayor some time in the future. A close friend of the current Lord Mayor, Peter Nattrass, Evan was a city councillor during most of the 1980s, until he lost his seat in 1988 through preferences.

“Sometimes I toy with the idea (of running for Lord Mayor) but its not something I’ve planned. The business comes first,” he said.

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