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Politics

HACC’s New York Trade Mission Hits for Greek Business

NEW YORK – The American Hellenic Chamber of Commerce in Athens (AHCC), the Hellenic American Chamber of Commerce (HACC) in New York and Enterprise Greece organized The 2015 Trade USA Construction Mission in cooperation with The Greek Press Office that brought Greek companies to New York March 23-27th 2015.

A press conference was held at Holy Trinity Cathedral on March 26 to highlight the latest initiative to connect the Hellenic Diaspora with Greek companies capable of producing quality products and boosting exports, which is the key to Greece surviving the crisis and thriving in the future.

The press conference was hosted by Louis Katsos, President, Jekmar Associates and Chairman of the Construction, Development, Design and Construction Committee of HACC, and Lambros Kazis, Press Secretary for the Greek Mission to the UN.

The endeavor brought Greece’s nine largest building supply, design and construction companies to New York. Construction, a vital sector with man quality providers of goods and services, has been hit hard by the crisis, and the two chambers grasped the value of helping companies pursue opportunities in New York’s booming retail and commercial market, were construction is expected set record highs of $35.3 billion in 2015.

Simos Anastasopoulos, President of the American-Hellenic Chamber and Nikolas Bakatselos, Vice President, led the successful mission, the idea for which emerged from conversations Katsos had in Greece last year.

The original goal of three meetings per company was exceeded by far. There were more than 70 meetings with contactors, including one-on-one meetings and visits to construction sites, up to 10 for each company.

Nancy Papaioannou, president of HACC and of Atlantic Bank presented, presented an overview of HACC and emphasized the value of networking, which the organization and member of the community can facilitate for Greek companies.

She also touched on developing greater cooperation between the two chambers and the Diaspora’s ability to help Greece, which Anastasopoulos said is also an important agenda item for his organization.

Katsos said “there are manufacturers of Greek products and we want to support them,” and he added during added during Q&A period, “We can also link them up with people in industries like tourism.”

Katsos said can help by fostering relationships and conveying knowledge. “New York is a very difficult market…We can put them in touch with the major players in the industry…being introduced to the right people is of value…and we are confident that if they are brought before the right people they will succeed.

Bakatselos said now that they now know the rules of the game and can move forward on the merits of their products.

The AHCC is 85 years old, and Anastasopoulos said it it’s the largest and most active chamber of commerce in Greece. The crisis propelled the Chamber into non-traditional areas. Its members are working to solve Greece’s problems in many areas, and Anastasopoulos noted, “We have the best minds in Greece on our committees.”

“We are working to change the business environment in Greece” he said, and developing new models for doing business because the old models have failed. For example, the group emphasizes the value of transparency in business dealings.

The larger aim is to produce more competitive goods, but Anastasopoulos acknowledged, “It will not happen without reforms” meaning, a more effective state, better education and a more efficient judicial system.

The partnership has arranged meetings in May with the American Bar Association and top American judges that will focus on best practices.

But the bottom line Anastasopoulos said, is that “we must produce more goods of quality that are competitive…but we are not here to ask for favors. We are well-organized and are prepared to seize opportunities on a sound business basis.”

The have a good early track record. Last October working with HACC, the chambers brought Greek defense ministry officials to the United States, and a number of deals resulted from the meetings.

Bakatselos is also the CEO and managing director one of Greece’s many little known export success stories. His company, Pyramis Metallurgy, was established in 1959 in Thessaloniki and was always export -oriented.

The company now sends 97 percent of its production abroad. For example, its German and British market shares are approximately 10 percent and in France their products have more than 20 percent of the market.

They sell to every country in Europe but  “the U.S. market is huge and New York is its gateway” Bakatselos said.

He was impressed by the fact that New York builders have open minds. “Coming here I thought American companies are interested exclusively in Amercan designs – but they are not. They like European products, so we have a chance,” he now knows.

For additional information and agenda visit: http://www.amcham.gr/2015tradeusa-construction-mission.

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