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A CITY FULL OF FEELINGS A CITY FULL OF FEELINGS


A family with 70 years of history, and 4 generations with a dynamic presence in Limassol!

* NOTE: All the tributes of All About Limassol (as the Official Guide of Limassol) aim to ONLY highlight the special aspects of this wonderful city, so that everyone can be aware of the exceptional options they offer. Under no circumstances do they have any promotional or nominal value, and they do not serve the interests of Companies, Municipalities, Organizations or Individuals.

Few things remain unchanged in a city that is growing and expanding at a rate as rapid as Limassol’s. And what is even rarer is to find something that has stayed true to not only its original image, but also to its soul, its life, and its substance, for more than 70 years. One such example does, in fact, exist, on the historical Eleftherias Street, just a few meters from the Limassol Medieval Castle.

On 109 Eleftherias Street, an area that has always enjoyed a bustle of commercial activity, a Limassol family has left its mark, as 4 generations made their way through the building that houses the EKA company since 1946. Michail Loizides, upon his arrival in Limassol with his wife and their 4 children in 1946, selected this location to start his business, a business whose existence and course is tied to the very history of Limassol itself.

His grandchildren, Michael, George, and Andrikkos, who are now at the helm of the company he founded 73 years ago, recall their grandfather fondly: “Our grandfather, Michalis, was from Pedoulas. He came from a large, poor family, and his uncle, a monk at the Agios Neophytos Monastery in Paphos, generously paid for his university studies. He thus became one of the island’s first agricultural scientists, having graduated from the Agricultural Institute of Cyprus,”

Michail Loizides, and his sons, Louis and Akis, the first 2 generations of the company

Due to his dependence on his uncle, Michalis ended up living in Paphos, where he was married, though his wife was also from Limassol - Mandria village specifically. “Initially, in Paphos, he began to work in agriculture, and even planted some revolutionary onion crops, in a land he was renting in the area from Kato Paphos to Kouklia. Due to the large quantities, he would export, he was called ‘The Onion King’ at the time,” say his grandchildren. “Our grandmother, however, was looking for an opportunity to come back to Limassol to be closer to her mother and sister.”

The family of Michail Loizides finally settled in Limassol in 1946, in the stone-built home on Eleftherias Street, as a result of their need to send their children to good schools.

During the bi-communal riots of 1963, the house found itself directly in the ‘line of fire.’ Due to the fact that the Turkish-Cypriot settlement is very close to Eleftherias Street, outposts had been set up in the area. To this day, there are still bullet holes in the walls of the house.

Grandfather Loizides, upon his return to Limassol, collaborated with several other businesspeople and founded a cooperative which he called the Engineering Commercial Association (ECA), which, in its Greek iteration, remains the company name to this day.

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In 1949, the commercial plot on 109 Eleftherias Street was purchased, and it housed the family home on the first floor, and the store on the ground floor, as it remains to this day.

Initially, the company sold building materials. As there were not many different kinds at the time, they did not promote the product names, but rather, the type of product. Once the second generation of the Loizides family joined the company, with Michail’s sons, Akis and Louis taking the reins, the company also began to change its orientation, and generic products became branded.

EKA was one of the first companies established on the island. Its registration number was 266 (Laiki Bank was number 1, as it was the first company to be registered in Cyprus), and it is one of the few that still remain active.

The grandfather was strict, serious, and restrained. To this day, it is a mystery to his grandchildren how his sons, Louis and Akis, turned out to be such extroverted, cheery and carefree individuals.

The grandchildren of Michail, and sons of Louis, are the third generation of the family to head the company. Michael (left) and George (right), have kept the English versions of their names to this day, as their Scottish mother initially found the pronunciation of the Greek names difficult. By the time her youngest son was born, she had familiarized herself with the language enough so that Andrikkos (center) didn’t need to become Andrew.  

Of Michail Loizides’ 4 children, only the oldest appears to have fully inherited his father’s temperament. Their mother was a typical Limassolian: extroverted and lively. It is her temperament that Louis and Akis appear to have inherited.

“I remember when we were still young and would come here to get our pocket money, I would see them sitting with customers, teasing and bursting into laughter,” says George.

“This cheerful atmosphere remains to this day. There is a familiarity that is embraced and shared by both customers and staff,” says Michael.

When ‘the most beautiful couple in Glasgow’ came to Limassol…

Akis and Louis attended university in Scotland. There, Louis met Irene, and they soon married and started a family. “They were one of the most beautiful couples in Glasgow,” says their son, Michael. “To this day, when we visit Scotland, we meet people from the Cypriot community of Glasgow, who still remember what a beautiful couple our parents were. They certainly made history there.”

“Our father was a very extroverted and open-hearted man. He and my mother may have been ostensibly different from one another, but they were a couple very much in love. Despite the differences in their character, they always found middle ground to be happy.” 

The couple arrived in Limassol, where Louis, along with his brother, Akis, took over the management of EKA. As for Louis and Irene’s family, that continued to grow. “Things were difficult for my mother at first,” recalls George, their second son. “The environment was very different: she left a big city to live in a village where people still took afternoon siestas, and the overall vibe towards the British was not quite normal, considering that the memories of the EOKA struggle were still fresh in peoples’ minds. She didn’t like the sun very much either, and couldn’t bear it when it was hot.” 

Louis and Irene raised their children in such a way as to ensure that they would have strong bonds with both the local community and the family business, bonds which have been preserved to this day. 

In the end, Irene learned to speak Greek very well and was able to adapt to the local community. She was also baptized Greek Orthodox, at the request of Louis family, which was something that she did not mind, for as a Protestant, she was not particularly religious.

“Our mother generally kept to herself. She would stay at home most of the time and read. She loved reading so much that she would finish a book every 3 days. She also liked horror films, and this was a source of argument between our parents, as our father couldn’t stand them, and preferred to watch comedies,” adds Michael.

 

On the left, the award-winning architect, Giorgos Mavrommatis (who designed the Four Seasons Hotel in Limassol), who evolved from a collaborator to a dear friend of Louis Loizides (standing next to him), and together they would always celebrate the success of their team.

The extroverted Louis, on the other hand, spent much of his time with people, whether he was at work or engaged in sports and his favorite team, AEL. 

Sports

To this day, the office of Louis Loizides on Eleftherias Street prominently displays the yellow t-shirt of the AEL basketball team, as well as trophies from various championships. Both he and his entire family developed a particularly close bond with the team, which stemmed from his great love for sports in general.

“AEL was a part of our father’s daily conversation. He spoke more about the team at home, than about his job. This also proved to be a unifying factor for the family, as it kept us tied to a common idea, and a common love,” says Michael.

“Our outings to watch sports matches with our father were quite frequent. We didn’t just attend AEL games, but went to as many as he deemed important for sports. On Sundays, we would generally watch football games, but he once even took us all the way to Famagusta (a long journey at the time) to watch a volleyball match between Anorthosis and Aris Thessalonikis,” recalls George.

The AEL football team 2019 Cup win was an occasion for the entire company to celebrate at all its branches worldwide, paying tribute to Louis Loizides.  

In 1967, Louis Loizides became involved in the development of the AEL basketball team. In 1973 he took over, and in 1974 the team won the championship for the first time. A little while later he did the same for the women’s volleyball team, which, incidentally, received many distinctions and won many championships over the course of 20 years. The children of the family never really played any sports themselves. “There were 2 siblings in the AEL basketball team with the name Loizides and everyone though it was us,” they admit with a laugh.  

From family to company and from company to family

“The philosophy of our father, Louis, was that work needed to be combined with fun. Even when he was on a business trip, he would always make sure to add 1-2 days to see the sights and have a good time,” recalls Michael. “He passed this philosophy on to the rest of the company as well, and was of the opinion that when there is a good atmosphere at work, employees perform better. We see this every day ourselves – the staff is very much connected to the company,” he continues. 

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Christmas and New Year’s holidays, and Carnival and Tsiknopempti have always been an opportunity for the entire company to have fun, while summer vacation in August always begins with a beach party at Lady’s Mile beach. The Tsiknopempti celebration remains a time-honored tradition to this day, one which has turned the old, industrial building on Eleftherias Street into an event venue. 

This way of running the business, which reflected company heads’ general way of life, inevitably became a model for the children, nephews, and grandchildren that are involved in the company today. For them, this was the correct way to get the job done, a belief that was as inexorable as their destiny to succeed their grandfather, fathers, and uncles in the company.

The newspaper, which featured company news and was circulated regularly, acted as a unifying element for the small community that the company created. Today, its pages adorn a central wall of the EKA offices.

“None of us have ever prepared a resume or looked for a job anywhere. From the time we were still in school, the way our father managed the business made it very clear to us that we would become involved in EKA as we got older,” admit Louis’ children.  

The entrance to Louis Loizides’ office is a testament to the cheeriness he brought with him to work. His children preserved this atmosphere as much as they could, keeping the office intact as it once was. 

“We are carrying on his work, not because we have deified it or we have been forced to do it. Rather, the choice comes naturally, it has been passed on in our DNA. Our father was a down-to-earth, humble, and approachable man, and we have simply learned to walk alongside him on his journey,” they explain.

“There were always plans in place for the development of the business, but this never came at the expense of the human factor. After all, this approach is consistent with our father’s line of thinking, as he always advocated that business decisions should have long-term results, not just temporary gains. ‘Money grabs’ were never an option, because even if they allowed for short-term profits, they were never a good basis for growth,” they add.

For Louis Loizides, teasing and joking were a vital part of his everyday life. In fact, he had even begun setting up a competition for the best joke in the company. His joke-telling successor today is Louis’ youngest son, Andrikkos (in photo above).  

In 2017, the family bids farewell to Louis Loizides, as he leaves behind his beloved city of Limassol, his sports team AEL, and the company to which he donated his time as well as his soul. The health problems that had begun to plague him due to diabetes had reached their peak with a stroke, and by 2012 - 2013 he had already lived through 2 deaths that had shaken him: his wife and his best friend, Giorgos Mavrommatis.

The final blow was fatal. Though his physical absence was felt by his children, his grandchildren, as well as the greater EKA family, his spirit, his liveliness, his habits and the culture he had nurtured all continue to live on.

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Until the age of 72 – 73, Louis Loizides was extremely active. He still had his strength, and every weekend would take his 7 grandchildren to explore parks, forests, and mountains. He had complete clarity of mind, an excellent memory, and could start up a conversation with just about anyone.  

One might cynically say that, at the very least, Louis managed to secure a future for his children and grandchildren, bequeathing them with a company from which they would all benefit. However, it was another legacy, an ethical one, which made his loss so great, not just for the children of the family, but for the ‘other’ family - the one of the company.

His inexhaustible humor, pervasive cheerfulness and liveliness, and his Limassolian temperament were all elements that allowed him to shorten the distances between the people around him. These qualities, however, are also the reason why the company, which maintains the same principles, continues to move forward as an integral part of the city and its people.

After Louis...

Guided by all that they have learned, seen and inherited from Louis, his children, nephews, and grandchildren have all continued along the same path, alongside partners and employees that have remained by their side through good times and bad. The result of this journey was the strengthening of the bonds among the people of EKA, making it difficult for anyone to distance themselves, even when such needs arise.  

At this age, the children of Louis had not even begun to imagine the role they would be called upon to adopt, directing the creation of their father and grandfather. 

“We are proud of our city and its development. However, we are not parochial, nor do we nullify other cities or countries just because we happen to love Limassol. Of course, it is difficult for a Limassolian to live elsewhere. Of the 7 grandchildren, 5 remained in Limassol, at the company headquarters here. Even we would find it difficult if we had to split our time among other cities or countries,” say Louis’ 3 sons.

“We would have liked our children to remain abroad for a little while, to gain some experience after their studies. We were unsuccessful with that, however. They love Limassol too much, and returned straight away.”

Of course, Limassol is currently enjoying a strong activity in the construction sector, and it is important that the majority of the company staff remains in the city. Expansion abroad, however, was a natural development and began at the start of the 1990s. “We are a small island, and it is normal for a developing company to grow beyond its borders. In 1991, we made the first move to seek out new markets in Greece. The first step was made by the two brothers, Louis and Akis, and continued once we took over,” explains Michael.

The EKA management team today, at the Louis Work Café space, a pioneering idea for leisure space for employees within the company premises. The name, as well as the décor, is a tribute to Louis Loizides. 

“The company continues to exist and do very well abroad. Even in Greece, when the new construction index decreased by 85% but renovations increased, the company undertook the facilitation of this segment and developed it. In 2005 we entered the Dubai market and in 2013 the Qatar market. Fortunately, construction activity was restored in Cyprus in 2015,” says Michael.

“Crises in our field are inevitable. It always starts with an upward trend, but because everyone wants to take advantage of the opportunity, at some point the supply of real estate becomes larger than the demand, and many go bankrupt due to buildings being left unsold, and this leads to a recession. It’s a cycle that leads to this point every 5-10 years,” George explains.

“We had a great responsibility towards a historic company, which had been passed on from generation to generation for 50+ years.”

When the crisis of 2013 broke out, with the haircuts and the dissolution of the second largest bank in Cyprus, an unprecedented situation arose. “We called a meeting for the entire staff. Things were rough, and no one knew when the economy would recover. Along with the staff, we decided on some mild cuts and, unfortunately, there were also limited redundancies. Immediately after, we sought out new markets in Qatar and Saudi Arabia. In this way, we kept a good climate within the company, and were able to recover, while other companies in our industry (approximately 30 – 40% of our competitors) were wiped out or suffered a drastic turnover reduction,” explains Michael. 

The employees of the EKA headquarters in Limassol, outside the Louis Work Cafe.

The creation of industrial zones and the expansion of Limassol to the east and the west resulted in a decline in traffic on Eleftherias Street from 1960 and beyond. History was also a contributing factor, with the conflicts that arose in 1963 between the two communities creating conditions of insecurity. The downward course of Eleftherias Street, however, was inversely proportional to the course enjoyed by EKA. The fact that its core remained there, active and evolving, was certainly a factor in softening the blow.

Relevant

Today, alongside the general steps taken to revitalize the historical center, the presence of such a company, one that has made it a point to honor its roots and preserve its human values all while continuing to develop, is a positive note. And so, besides its 70+ years of history, 109 Eleftherias Street is a place where human relationships, fun, and the joy of creation play a central role. The fact that 4 generations of Limassolians supported this idea is a clear indication of how the people of our city allow it to move forward, while at the same time keeping it grounded to its principles. This was the reason for such a tribute in All About Limassol (the Official Guide of Limassol). For if buildings make up the image of a city, then the people are its soul, and when they coexist in a harmonious relationship over many years, they can continue to preserve the old while still enriching it with something new

* NOTE: The tributes of the Project "History of Limassol" present information that has emerged from historical research thus far. Any new data is embedded into the tributes, once it has been confirmed.


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