Legends of the Industry

Please wait while JT SlideShow is loading images...
A Self-Made Man: “Mr. Iraklis Khalisthenis”




Mr. Iraklis Khallisthenis, President of the Kastoria Furriers Association


The son of a Kastorian fisherman, Mr. Iraklis Khallisthenis was born in 1933 into a childhood marked by terrible poverty and deprivation. Despite very difficult conditions, Iraklis was able to complete six years of elementary school – a rare feat given the trying circumstances of the war years, back in the days.

At just thirteen years of age, marked by a revival in the fur industry, Iraklis learned how to sew furs – a skill that would provide a wage, albeit a meagre one, to help supplement his fisherman father’s modest earnings. But times were tough and in 1946, when the Civil War erupted in Greece, throwing the country into even more devastating poverty, Iraklis had to go and join the army.

After a two-year stint in the army, Mr. Khallisthenis decided to try his hand at cutting designs in fur. He learned very quickly and soon became adept at his technique. He worked for a company who gave away unwanted scraps of fur to other firms. This inspired Mr. Khallisthenis to open his own small shop and explore the industry further. By 1959 he had increased his work force to as many as forty people.

Looking to expand abroad, Mr. Iraklis Khallisthenis set off for Frankfurt, the fur centre of Europe at the time. Several trips later, he decided to set up a fur workshop in Frankfurt to supplement the ever-increasing demand in Kastoria. It was here, in Frankfurt that Mr. Khallisthenis met his wife Ursula. They settled in Frankfurt and had two children – Giorgos and Eleni. The business prospered and by 1974, Mr. Iraklis Khallisthenis had made a name for himself in the industry.



He was elected to the Board of the Profitis Ilias Furriers Association of Frankfurt and a short time later assumed responsibility for the Association’s finances. That same year, when the Cyprus conflict arose, the Association collected DM 60,000 and sent the money to help the island’s people. They were able to raise another DM 60,000 to replenish the Association’s coffers. In 1981, Mr. Khallisthenis was elected President of the Association, and was the driving force behind the creation of a DM 350,000 Cultural Centre and nursery school (as well as offices for various associations and organizations) for the Greek community in Frankfurt.

By 1987, Mr. Khallisthenis retired from the Presidency of the Frankfurt Furriers Association and returned to Greece where he played an active part in business life there. He built a 3,800 s.m. factory with a workforce of about 100 employees and continued to run both the Frankfurt and the Kastorian operations.

Other ventures included the establishment of Delfoi in 1992, a now defunct joint stock company, that he set up in association with 18 other businessmen.



By early 1996, Mr. Khallisthenis began a flourishing career as a philanthropist in his beloved country Greece, initiating the Iraklis Kallisthenis Foundation to grant scholarships to impoverished students for their educations. Interest from his initial donation of €800,000 has awarded more than 2,000 scholarships to deserving students.



Inspired by his son’s work in the IT field, The Foundation has expanded to offer free computer training classes to all the children in elementary school.

Mr. Khallisthenis finds great satisfaction in working within the community. When he became aware of the problems faced by the Profitis Ilias Furriers Association of Kastoria, he decided to set up a group of colleagues to help the Association (which was set up in 1915, and was the main professional association in the sector) to navigate these troubled waters.



He took on the role of President role and has steadily expanded the annual International Kastoria Fur Trade Fair, leading the construction effort of a Fair Venue next to the Kastoria Permanent Fur Auction Rooms and Showrooms. This modern venue has already been open for a few years and meets the specifications of a state-of-the-art fair venue, where the furriers of western Macedonia can exhibit and showcase their products to buyers from around the world. The Kastoria Fur Trade Center has a surface area of 3,200 square meters and took around two years to complete. It is the property of the Kastoria Furriers Association and the Kastoria Chamber of Commerce.



From humble beginnings to extraordinary success and achievement, Mr. Khallisthenis is one of the leaders of the world fur industry. His passion, intelligence and inexhaustible work ethic is an inspiration to all who know him. This is a man whose generosity is faultless and who has never forgotten his roots. Mr. Khalisthenis is a hard-working, self-made man and we are deeply honoured to include him in our Leaders of the Industry section.


By Koral Kanca, Editor & Publisher