PAUL Efmorfidis is not your average businessman. He has travelled the world and learned nine languages on the way, worked as a teacher and even sold jewellery to tourists in Plaka to make the rent. This was before he became Greece’s best-known mattress maker as founder of Coco-Mat.
But even Coco-Mat, established in Athens in 1989, is not your average business. Worth more than 90 million euros, the company has shops around the world – from Belgium to the United States, Canada and China. Mattresses are shipped from the factory in Xanthi, northern Greece.
Efmorfidis, 54, says he has an eco-friendly secret to success, using only natural fibres. At a time when mattresses in Greece were often stuffed with cotton or old rags, he started using coconut palm, horsehair, seaweed, natural rubber, silk, cotton, linen and wool, layered in the springless mattresses.
The company now boasts a recycling rate of more than 95 percent. Production scraps are used to stuff rag dolls, while leftover latex is used in pillows. He has also been awarded for a policy of including people with disabilities in his staff.
Efmorfidis currently lives in Amsterdam. His Coco-Mat mattresses, pillows, towels and furniture are found in homes and hotels around the world.