The Van Vlahakis’ Environmental Excellence Award was established in memory of Earth Friendly Products’ late CEO, Van Vlahakis, and is open to organizations in California.
The CleanTech OC, Sustainability Council of Orange County in conjunction with Earth Friendly Products, annually recognizes excellence in Environmental initiatives and Sustainability programs.
The goal is to recognize outstanding environmental performance, programs and projects and highlight the success of businesses, organizations and agencies, who go beyond the norm to advance Environmental Initiatives and Sustainability programs and to make these examples available to others who may emulate them.
One of the most successful Greek immigrants in the United States, Vlahakis was the founder and CEO of Earth Friendly Products, the largest green cleaning products manufacturer in the world.
Born in Crete on January 14, 1935, Vlahakis came to the US as a young man ready to change his life and the world; and he did.
He left Greece in 1953 to escape poverty after World War II had torn apart Europe, and went to Chicago, IL to study chemistry at Roosevelt University.
He was going to school in the morning and straight to work after his classes in order to make a living.
The man who was forced to live in homeless shelters when he arrived in the States, ten years later founded the green giant known today as Earth Friendly Products.
Today, Earth Friendly Products is the manufacturer of the #1 selling ‘green’ laundry detergent in the world, ECOS; the first to manufacture a pH neutral auto-dishwashing gel, Wave; and has won awards for progressive business practices, including its use of renewable energy and offering employees financial incentives for buying hybrid or other green vehicles.
The green giant has also been recognized as one of California’s best employers providing the highest in the nation min. wage of at least $17 an hour, among other benefits.
With over 300 employees, five geographically diverse manufacturing facilities in the United States, more than 150 products and worldwide distribution, Earth Friendly Products topped $100 million in sales last year.
The legacy of its founder Van Vlahakis, closely involved family members, capable management, chemists, and production employees have produced a success formula and a strong foundation that guarantees further growth.