5 Questions With Vasili

From our first meeting to the final installation, each phase of our meticulous, 45-year-honed process was built to meet the needs of our incredible design partners and their clients. 

As skilled as we are, we know that every project can bring uncertainty and its own set of challenges. Someone who knows this well is the workroom’s General Manager and Head Installer, Vasili Zikopis, who, for the last 10+ years, has worked tirelessly to ensure that every piece that comes out of the workroom is crafted with precision and flawlessly installed. 

If you’re following along on Instagram (we know you are!), you’ve seen some of his work. From custom headboards to drapery, every piece must pass a certain standard before it leaves the workroom. But, as Vasili will humbly state, he does not do it alone. Maybe it’s that sense of teamwork he learned in the Special Forces or his voracious sense of curiosity. Regardless,  Vasili starts and ends each day carefully considering projects in the queue, calculating the right tool and expertise for each job. 

We recently sat down with Vasili to learn about a typical day and his essential role at Makkas Workroom. Keep reading for our first “5 Questions With!”

MW: We know your day can be pretty unpredictable. What is a fairly typical day for you?

VasiliMy day typically starts around 6:30/7 am and goes until about 8/9 pm. During the pandemic, my day started around 5 am; we were so busy. The first thing I do when I come into the workroom is to set up the “project wall” so that everyone on the team knows what they need to focus on that day. George will then put all of my install items onto charts that go out to be loaded into the van - the first job going in last. Then we are off to do installations. 95% of the time, I am on the job with Anderson. We work well together!

The first thing I do when I get on site is introduce myself to the client and homeowner, and then we walk through every space that requires an installation. Once we knew where we were going and starting, we unloaded the van, bringing everything inside slowly and carefully. After finishing all the installations, I’ll come back to the workroom and assess what has been completed by the team. I will stay in the workroom for the remainder of the day, helping to finish any project for the next day or any big projects that need more time- and that’s a pretty typical day. 

MW: How did you gain your expertise?

Vasili: One of my first jobs back in Greece was as a lead welder, where I worked on various construction projects, understanding how to build things. I joined Makkas Workroom in 2013 and took the time to absorb everything there was to know about the business. I’ve had the opportunity to be involved in every type of project. Knowing how to do everything in the workroom and understanding the issues can help me better support other team members to help solve them.

I’ve been lucky enough to have two great mentors in my life.  I owe a lot to my first mentor, Panagiotis Alexiou, who passed away two years ago. Panagiotis shaped who I am today. He taught me a lot about this line of work, how to approach each job, and how to work with a team. Since then, I’ve learned so much from working alongside Phil Makkas. He’s a fantastic craftsman and has also been a great mentor to me. 

MW: When was the first time you used a sewing machine?

Vasili: The first time I touched a sewing machine was in the Army when I was a Paratrooper in the Special Forces. We often worked in an area where all the parachutes were stored and awaiting repair. There were people assigned to stitching the parachutes that were torn or damaged in any way. 

I attempted to repair a parachute one day, but the needle broke when I started the sewing machine. I was so embarrassed that I just walked out and said nothing to anyone. It took some time before I touched a sewing machine again!

MW: What's your favorite type of project? 

Vasili: All of them. But I like projects where I can create, and I'm building something, such as banquettes, headboards, and panels. In these projects, it’s important to get the measurements precise, especially with panels, because you have to get the numbers right, know how to make them, and place/install them. I love it when a client gives us something tricky. I love figuring it all out. It’s like a puzzle, and that’s exciting.

MW: What are you looking forward to in projects? 

Vasili: There is nothing specific, but I’m excited about automation-related projects. There’s a lot of opportunities there for homeowners. These systems are very flexible now. You can run wires where they need to go and have a lot of opportunities to customize how you need to for your unique home. I like the Lutron technology the most. It is very smart and customizable.

Thank you Vasili!

Team Makkas