An Extra Ordinary Entrepreneur
INDO CARIBBEAN WORLD NEWSPAPER
The success story of Goudas Foods and Investments Ltd. , is the stuff which cliches are made. 'Started from scratch.' 'Rags to riches.' 'Pauper to prince.' 'classic tale of an immigrant made good.'
Today, this award-winning company is famous for its more than 350 products in an alpha to omega culinary repertoire.
And for its community work too. Goudas Foods is well known by the government, and many communities, for its efforts in helping out .Who is the main man behind this enterprise? He isn't from Trinidad and Tobago, Neither is he from Guyana, Jamaica, Hong Kong, Barbados, nor India.
Peter Spiros Goudas is originally from Greece. He came to Toronto in May 1967, with roughly $100 in his pocket, no knowledge of English, and the prospect of a bed under the penetrating lights of Nathan Phillips Square.
After finding a job, saving for two years, and securing a loan from a bank, he made a down payment on a small packaging and canning company.
Canada was then discovering how rich the vein was in its thrust towards multiculturalism. Goudas began mining this incipient market for ethnic foods: there was a growing immigrant appetite, and no competition.
Prominent in his library is a moment of historic achievement. As the founder and president of the enterprise, Goudas was last year selected as the recipient of the New Canadian Entrepreneur of the Year Award.
The tribute which was presented by the National Council of Ethnic Canadian Business and Professional Associations (Toronto Chapter} and the Federal Business Development Bank.
The October 26, 1993, awards ceremony saw more than 200 persons in attendance.
Among the speakers were Sonja Bata, director of Bata Corporation; Xiaomin Meng, Trade Councilor of the Peoples Republic of China; Bishal Mani, Council of India; Gerril Kulsdom, Consul of The Netherlands; Sergio Aguillera, Consul General of Mexico; and the Vice President of the Federal Business Development Bank, Frank Reiter.
Goudas got the nod after beating out the competition in four main categories. To qualify, individual had to have created their own business, demonstrated a degree of innovation, made an impact on the industry, and gave something back to the community.
It took 27 years for him to walk from Front Street to the Westin Harbour Castle Hotel for that award, Goudas told the audience that night.
And on the awards night of October 26, 1993, an emotional Hall gave a glowing testimony of Goudas honesty and integrity. It was a tribute to a man who had made it through hard work, vision, and determination to not take a fall into bankruptcy following those make or break, and indeed, bone-breaking days in 1979.
An the Goudas story goes on
That spirit of giving has not stopped. The wad of letters of acknowledgement and thanks is thicker today.
Thank you letters, in English, come from the government of Ontario for Goudas Foods assistance in the Hurricane Gilbert Jamaican Relief fund; Saint Francis Xavier Catholic School says thanks for help received; so do the good folks behind the Q-SSIS Family Christmas Dinner: thank you, says the Hellenic Home for the Aged for the donation; as well as the Trinidad and Tobago Association; of Ontario, the Jamaican Association, and the National Council of Barbadian Association for assistance which had gone a long way.
And Goudas community work is not restricted to giving to the needy, but in creative endeavors as well. He has been continuously involved in Caribana, the August weekend festival that attracts close to 1.5 million visitors, many from the U.S. annually to Toronto.
One of Goudas admirers is 71 year-old Outram Ramroop. Originally from Guyana, this energetic and now-retired security officer met Goudas at the Weston Road plant in 1988.
Having arrived from Guyana the year before, he had approached Goudas Foods one morning during a walk, tentatively seeking employment. He was promptly hired to do odd jobs around the plant, and has remained there since.
Ramroop is brief and to the point. "Can't complain," he says of Goudas Foods and his boss, with an appreciative look worth a thousand words to any interviewer.
Goudas, who is 52 years old, and the father of a son Panos, says Ramroop is "loyal, reliable and responsible."
The Discussion comes around to Ramroop love for Indo-Guyanese cuisine. Again he is too brief, saying without hesitation that the quality of Goudas brown rice is "first class."
He is the father of eight children. "Four girls and four boys" He has 19 grandchildren. "One six weeks old." And as an afterthought, six great-grandchildren.
His employer looks on quietly as the old man, sitting at ease and confidently in the sparsely furnished, practical office, begins heaping praises on the quality of the foods and on the goodness of the man behind the desk.
But words are not needed to show the victory Goudas Foods has achieved in Canada. Ramroop’s appreciative look when he says "first class" about the food he loves, its prices, its accessibility and availability is tremendous evidence that Goudas Foods has clearly won its place as a key player in Canada’s drive to multiculturalism.
And slowly, and almost imperceptibly, the distance between the men, both seasoned veterans, once separated through cultures and nations, begins drawing closer in a bond of camaraderie and warmth.
It becomes a tremendous symbol of things Canadian. Its is a bond which has been forged through a successful enterprise that has contributed to the changed Canadian landscape what is today the indelible mark of tastes delectable.