When a product matches personal values

Robert Petruzzi ran a floor care business in his native Switzerland, and Livos was a favourite brand.

Based in Germany, Livos produce a range of non-toxic, biodegradable, plant-based surface treatments and cleaning products. The range includes oils and stains for timber and concrete floors, wall and ceiling paints, and treatments for exterior furniture and timber decks.

Hard to find

Robert and his Australian-raised wife Angela relocated to Melbourne in 2000, established Anro Floorcare, and encountered an immediate problem. “We couldn’t find the Livos product on the local market,” says Angela. “Robert tried a number of different finishes, but couldn’t achieve the results he was used to. So we searched some more and eventually found that Livos was available here, it just wasn’t being actively marketed.”

Robert got reacquainted with the product and in 2006, when the Petruzzis were given the opportunity to take over distribution of the Livos brand Australia-wide, a new business was born.

Strong growth

Robert continues to provide a professional floor care service through Anro Floorcare and exclusively uses the Livos product. Under Angela’s care, Livos Australia has grown to be the larger of the two businesses. Her expertise in delivering presentations and hands-on sessions to architects, industry bodies and other groups has been central to the brand’s growth in Australia. She has also written many articles highlighting the safety and environmental benefits of the product.

In 2009 Livos moved into a new showroom and warehouse in Bayswater in Melbourne’s east. The street-front exposure on its own has helped to generate business. The company also makes active use of its website to educate users, and supports a number of stockists around Australia.

Aside from Angela’s and Robert’s hard work, an excellent relationship with Livos in Germany is another key to success. “Their technical support is outstanding,” says Angela. “Another reason we’ve stuck with them is that the whole company has such an amazing belief in their product.” It also helps that Robert is available to pass on the benefits of his longstanding experience with Livos finishes.

Environmental commitment

The Petruzzi’s affinity for Livos may be due to their personal commitment to the environment and to healthier products. “Sustainability isn’t something that should be thought of at the end of a project,” comments Angela, “it needs to be incorporated into the initial planning and design.” She also notes that in the long term, natural and healthier products tend to be more sustainable.

Aside from the product credentials, the business minimises its own energy use, recycles diligently and uses eco-friendly packaging.

Angela acknowledges that there is a carbon footprint associated with shipment of product from Germany to Australia, but points out that transport emissions depend on a number of factors. “Shipping a product in a half-empty truck across Australia can lead to higher carbon emissions than shipping the same product in a full container from Europe,” she comments.

Countering greenwash

Asked to nominate a challenge that the business faces, Angela homes in on greenwashing in advertising. She notes that there are no regulations to manage those who use fear and buzzwords to influence people. Following on from Livos’ practice since 1984, Angela would like to see full disclosure of all ingredients used in paints and coatings. This would allow purchasers to make their decision based on all the facts.

Spreading the word

The future for Livos Australia and Anro Floorcare is for organic growth. “Although a lot of people still choose surface treatments on price alone, regardless of the health consequences, many others are thrilled to find such a healthy product,” says Angela. “We’ll continue to share with as many people as possible that there are healthier and more environmentally friendly alternatives to traditional, petrochemical-based finishes.”



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