Carpets Galore Floorworld, Thomastown Victoria.
There are many family businesses in the flooring industry but arguably, none quite as significant as the one started by Bill Tsapatsaris and his sister Angela. Located in the Melbourne suburb of Thomastown, Carpets Galore Floorworld is part of the history of the Floorworld Group and is a second generation family business, now owned by Angela’s daughter Helen and her cousin Chris; who is Bill’s son. Theirs is a business built on the little things that matter to their customers; a business built on saying ‘yes’ when others say no. It’s a business built on family, loyalty, skills and a respect for Bill’s enduring legacy of perfection and customer service.
Helen Lazenkas started out in 1995 when Angela and Bill started a second store in Campbellfield. Helen and her husband Con managed the store and eventually bought the business from Angela and Bill. Selling that business, Con returned to the Thomastown store and Helen took some time off to start a family and later, taking on the role of managing 250 carpenters constructing high-rise developments around Melbourne. Helen returned to the Thomastown store in 2014 before Bill passed away from pancreatic cancer and Angela semi-retired. Helen says “It was a very difficult time for everyone and we work very hard to always honour his legacy.”
Bill was an industry personality of some note and Helen says “There’s no one in the industry that didn’t know Uncle Bill.” One of the original six friends who started Floorworld back in the 1980’s, Bill was much loved as an inspiring individual who would often be seen around the Lower Plenty Football Club in his ‘superbly ironed’ Pelaco shirt; a man who epitomised what a family man truly is; a man who’s contribution to the flooring industry in Australia was second to none. Today, Angela is still a Director of Floorworld, the first woman to perform this role and Helen sits on the Floorworld executive board. Floorworld now has approximately 37 stores with the latest opening in Tweed Heads South.
Now in charge of one of the largest Floorworld stores in the country, Helen and Con ran the Thomastown store for three years. Bill’s son Chris had been working in flooring installation for over ten years and in 2017 acquired his father’s shares and became co-owner with his cousin Helen. Chris says “This was the way it was always meant to be. From brother and sister, it’s now cousins.” Despite the change in ownership, it’s the family that matters with Con in sales and estimation; Helen in admin and the showroom; Chris in sales and project management; Angela still involved and even Helen’s daughter Olivia helping out on Saturdays. Rounding out the team is Steve on stores and sales with thirty five years in the industry. While everyone has their own strengths they bring to the business, it’s the ‘family’s’ ability to work as a team that helps them get every job done properly.
And it’s the jobs where they stand out. From the Victorian high country to the Mornington Peninsula to the ritzy homes of Balwyn and Kew, Floorworld Thomastown is known for their ability to always get the job done right. Helen says “We’re not scared to have a go, our combined skill sets always make it work.” Chris adds “We’ll always find a positive outcome a solution to anything that comes up. We don’t have problems; we see obstacles that we find solutions for. Helen recalls the day that a guy with an American accent called the store late in the afternoon with a strange request. An ESPN producer from New York was in town for the 2014 Australian Open Tennis and needed a temporary floor laid the next morning. Helen thought it might be a ‘gotcha’ call but invited him out to the store. Thirty minutes later a taxi showed up with a group of ESPN executives and they had drinks and pizza while they worked out what they wanted.
It was a temporary floor for a photoshoot that had to be laid the next morning in the ballroom of the Grand Hyatt Hotel in Melbourne. Helen and Chris got the job done; getting tickets to the open where Novak Djokovic and Serena Williams took out the titles. Helen says “We always say yes” and saying yes, they won a contract with Rolex. Saying yes also resulted in work for the National Gallery of Victoria and Federation Square. Helen says “In business, looks aren’t always everything so we treat everyone the same way.” It’s this commitment that has seen Floorworld Thomastown win numerous awards, and the gratitude of customers for over twenty five years.
This passion for people also extends to Helen’s work for Pancare. Established in 2011 by cancer surgeon Dr. Mehrdad Nikfarjam; Pancare aims to raise six million dollars over the next three years to fight pancreatic cancer. Helen also works personally as one of ‘4women4pancare’ with friends Kerri, Patsy and Janet where they only recently raised $61,000 for the cause. Chris and Helen are also major sponsors of ‘Stan the Man’ Longinidis, the 8-time World Kickboxing Champion’s children’s academy that assists with programs that help to create ‘champion people’ through initiatives that include anti-bullying programs. Helen and Chris are Floorworld Thomastown but much more than that; they are a part of the wider community where caring for others is as important to them as anything else.
Pictured: (From left) Angela, Steve, Chris, Helen, Con, Olivia.