Elena Filippou-Koumandarou boldly described her late father Kyriakos, who passed away a few days ago. "He was an authentic gentleman, just and dignified." This is exactly how I remember Kyriakos: as a gentleman, who together with his beloved wife Dimitra, a true lady, made a patrician couple.
In the late 1980s and early 1990s, Greek businessmen often visited New York. Some because they wanted to taste the fruits of the cosmopolitan city – shopping on its famous avenues, watching a Broadway show, eating at its best restaurants. Others came to gather ideas for their companies and others to explore the possibilities of expanding their businesses into the huge American market.
As a couple Kyriakos and Dimitra Filippou stood out. Kyriakos was ‘a natural leader.’ Tall, cultured, serious, aristocratic, he seized the attention of everyone in his company. You could tell from afar that he was ‘someone’. "With few, but wise words, he gained the trust of everyone who knew him," as his daughter describes him. He certainly had won my trust.
The story of Kyriakos is the story of the ‘American dream’ in its Greek version. He comes from a relatively humble but restless and progressive family, which established ‘a neighborhood dairy.’ Kyriakos, after studying, joined the then-small family company. However, his vision was not limited to the development and distribution of the products available in this store. He envisioned and dared to discover new products, with which he conquered the market. He worked very hard, as his daughter witnessed. Het set high goals and he believed so much in his own strength that he aimed to conquer foreign, demanding, but large markets in Europe and America.
The most golden page of the history of the introduction of Greek business activity in America was written by FAGE – Filippou Brothers Dairy Enterprises with the production of their famous strained – Greek – yogurt. He first exported his yogurt by air transport, until he saw that it was flying off the shelves of the shops, mainly Greek-American ones, where he was selling them. Thus came the great step: yogurt production in New York. From the first moment, FAGE became the yogurt of choice for both expatriates and Americans. So the journey of Kyriakos Filippos on Earth was not accidental at all. He was a visionary Greek, who always, together with his beloved wife Dimitra by his side, opened great horizons for their family, at the same time honoring their Greek name. May his memory be eternal.