Greek Australian Jim Kouzoukas of Jeff Mills Auto Electrics and Mechanical won big at the Bayside Local Business Awards in Sydney with taking home Business Person of the Year. The Greek-run Born to Bake Greek won the Business of the Year award.
The nominees and winners are selected by the Bayside and St George area locals and recognised in an awards night event
Kouzoukas, says it means a lot that the win comes from his customers.
“It’s huge. Being in an area that’s grown over the last 20 years, there’s a lot of competition and you have to lift your game,” he told Neos Kosmos.
“In business, customers always come first, so it’s massive. I had no words to describe how it felt.”
Some of these customers are Greeks, who Jim is quite popular amongst.
Jim’s family come from the island of Kos, and he loves seeing people from the diaspora come in.
“We get a lot of Greeks in the area, but it’s sad that a lot of them over the years have passed on because they’re older Greeks – either not driving anymore or passed on, but now you’re getting the generation of their children.”
Earlier this year he also won in the automotive category at the St George Local Business Awards, and won another award in 2018.
The shop, located in Banksia, has been around since the 1940s and has been under different owners, starting with Jeff Mills.
Kouzoukas got his start there as a first-year apprentice in 1989, working under then owner and fellow Greek Harry Barberakis.
After his apprenticeship and time was done, an opportunity had arisen. Harry decided to move on and asked Jim if he would like to buy the business.
It was risk for Kouzoukas, especially since he just had a major life changing event.
“I just got married as well, so I just spent a lot of money on that. I was nervous, unsure if I can succeed but I just bit the bullet and went for it.”
He bought it in 1995 and hasn’t looked back since, changing as the times do too, going from solely auto electrics to expanding further. He also went to TAFE and became a mechanic.
A big part of expanding and growing is being in the online world, and he gives a special shout out to his friend Mari Hatzistergos, who runs the company socials and deals with the award nominations.
Neos Kosmos reached out Born to Bake them for comment, however were unable to to get one – and we will keep trying so we can update the story.
Nieos Grille Express – Fast Food/Takeaway
George Georgoulopoulos, from Nieos Grille Ramsgate , says it means a lot coming from the customers rather than someone like a food blogger.
Customers from all walks of life and ethnicities go to eat there, but being Greek, George loves seeing his people flock in. George’s love of being Greek shined when talking to Neos Kosmos, as he was happy to hear that many of the winners on the awards night were Greek.
Nieo’s Grille has two places, another in Earlwood. Originally founded over 30 years ago by George’s brother Theo and Nick Xenofos. Nick also has a brother named Theo, and both restaurants have seen a combo of the two sets of brothers running shop.
Creativity By Geena – Hairdresser
Established in 1993, the boutique salon is located in Brighton-Le-Sands and has accumulated multiple awards, specifically over the last 2 years which includes National winner in 2021 of the Australian achiever
awards for excellence in customer relation.
Owner Geena Polyzos says “It means a terribly lot, especially when you’ve been in business for nearly 30 years, and knowing you got that support behind you from the local community.”
“We are forever grateful for such a caring and kind community and will continue to provide our quality service to Bayside for years to come.”
She says the do have a lot of Greek clients in the area, and are quite popular amongst the Greek community.
Other big Greek led business winners on the night were:
The Music Space – Education Service
MGM Martin – Real Estate Agency
Costi Seafood – Fresh Food
Selene Atelier – Specialised Business
That Place – Cafe