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Society

Manios and Pnevmatikos Inducted into Greek Shipping Hall of Fame – Nigel Lowry Talks to TNH

ATHENS – Among the most prominent shipowners of their different generations, Dimitris Manios (1952-1995) and Michael J. Pnevmatikos (1883-1969) were inducted into the Greek Shipping Hall of Fame before some 560 shipping industry guests at the annual Induction Ceremony & Dinner held at Megaron, the Athens Concert Hall, April 22. As it has since 2014, the organization supported children’s charity Hellenic Hope with a donation.

According to its website: “Each year a small number of individuals are inducted into the Hall of Fame. Only historic individuals who are no longer with us are accepted.”

“Over the last 17 years, the [Greek Shipping Hall of Fame] has become an institution,” said Nigel Lowry, Greek Shipping Hall of Fame founder and director. “It’s always very gratifying when we get a large audience of today’s shipping personalities to our annual event showing a high level of engagement with the Inductees and the new stories we tell each year.”

Dimitris Manios made his first capital in the 1970s from selling fuel to yachting and shipping clients. His best-known company, Transman Shipping Enterprises, was set up together with his brother Vassilios, at the end of the crisis of the 1980s, enabling him to acquire vessels at low prices and sell off some of them for four or five times as much when the market recovered.

Greek Shipping Hall of Fame founder Nigel Lowry presents the original 1974 oil painting ‘The Byron Collection’, to British Ambassador Matthew Lodge. Photo courtesy of Greek Shipping Hall of Fame

The immediate success of Transman allowed him to expand and diversify the fleet with acquisitions of general cargo, refrigerated vessels, and containerships in addition to bulk carriers. With friend and partner Lou Kollakis, Manios moved into tankers and the pair also acquired a historic UK shipbuilder, the Pallion Shipyard in Sunderland. The untimely death of Dimitris Manios at age 43 robbed Greek shipping of a charismatic and popular young tycoon who had begun to attract comparisons with the prototype of the ‘Golden Greek’ shipowner, Onassis.

Michael J. Pnevmatikos was a key figure in the emergence of shipping from the islands of Kassos and Syros during the steamship era, as well as a key contributor in efforts to rebuild Greek shipping after the Second World War. His father teamed up with a brother-in-law, Basil Nicholas Rethymnis, and the two families bought their first steamship. At the outset of his career Pnevmatikos based himself in Constantinople, where he helped to run an oil-shipping business for a close friend, Leonidas Arvanitidi, leading it to acquire its own fleet. The company’s success was interrupted by the Asia Minor catastrophe of 1922, forcing Pnevmatikos to return to Greece. He became a founding shareholder in Rethymnis & Kulkukundis, the pivotal Greek shipping agency in London. Based in Syros, he and his partners formed Kassos Steam Navigation that went on to order new ships in the UK, including the first diesel motorship under Greek flag. Besides his own business exploits, Pnevmatikos was widely respected among his compatriot owners and was twice elected President of the Union of Greek Shipowners. He was legendary for his great memory and encyclopedic knowledge of ships.

“We like joining the dots – especially between the past and today – as we did in this year’s video musing about whether the ‘golden Greek’ era of Niarchos and Onassis should be considered the golden age of Greek shipping – or whether today’s generation and their exploits in the shipping industry are actually just as impressive,” Lowry said. “It is important that the choice of Inductees each year is left to the Academy members, which is a proxy for today’s Greek shipping community in general. But in many cases we are also telling today’s industry insiders new stories, either by bringing into the spotlight someone who has been largely forgotten, or by correcting the information and disclosing new facts about cases they thought they knew, but did not know so well.”

Some 560 shipping industry guests honored this year’s inductees at the annual Shipping Hall of Fame induction ceremony and dinner held at Megaron, the Athens Concert Hall. Photo courtesy of Greek Shipping Hall of Fame

In addition to celebrating the Greek shipping industry and paying tribute to some of its greatest personalities, the Greek Shipping Hall of Fame event also marked the bicentenary of the death of Lord Byron in April 1824, focusing on the famous poet’s commitment to Greece’s freedom and his love of the sea. On the occasion of the bicentenary, the Greek Shipping Hall of Fame presented the original oil painting ‘The Byron Collection’, to the British Embassy in Athens. The 1974 painting by Willliam Clayton was accepted by British Ambassador Matthew Lodge.

Lowry and team established the Greek Shipping Hall of Fame in 2007 to pay tribute to the large cast of impressive personalities who wrote modern Greek shipping history before passing away. The other aim of the Greek Shipping Hall of Fame is to tell the story of Greek shipping to new generations. Voting for Inductees takes place annually and is open to members of the Greek Shipping Hall of Fame Academy, currently numbering about 300 prominent individuals in today’s Greek shipping community.

“At the end of the day, Greek shipping as a business sector is uniquely deserving of a Hall of Fame,” Lowry said. “Few other lines of business or industry can rival it for scope, history, and a wealth of extraordinary characters, and it is in the nature of shipping that the events of their lives are plugged into world history.”

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