Greek businesses well represented at this year’s Hermes Expo International
By David Bjorkgren
Look for a strong Greek presence at the 2019 Hermes Expo International. Thanks to an improving Greek economy, businesses absent in recent years are returning in full force to court the US market.
“This year, we are happy to announce the participation of over 15 businesses from Greece looking for opportunities in America,” says Expo founder Paul Kotrotsios. The Expo theme, “Trade, Tourism and Investment Opportunities Through Gastronomy” honors the 15 businesses that will be exhibiting from Greece, in addition to American and Greek-American businesses exhibiting.
The ever-expanding Expo has now found a home in Washington, D.C., joining Philadelphia and New York as trade route destinations. The 28th Hermes Expo International begins Monday, April 8, at the Capital Hilton Hotel in Washington, moves to Center City Philadelphia on Wednesday, April 10, at the Arts Ballroom and brings its grand finale, “A Taste of Hellas” to the 3 West Club in New York on Thursday, April 11. More than 50 exhibitors will have booths at each of the three locations.
Exhibitors will show an array of Greek products and services, including foods, coffees and wines, vacation experiences and even home improvement products. Specific Greek businesses participating this year are Prefecture of Thessalia, Adventurous Destinations, Kedap SA, Meteora Food, Mikel C.C., Chamber of Commerce of Larisa and Trikala, Vianka (Trikki), Viosal SA, Vavitsas factory, Avramoulis SA, Petranis AVEE Aluminum and Tyrnavos Cooperative Winery & Distillery, among others.
In addition, visitors can find information on energy providers, law services, medical services, tourism, finance solutions, investment opportunities, restaurant equipment, construction, importers/exporters, bakery items, photography services, and much more.
When the Hermes Expo first opened in 1992 in Atlantic City, it was founded on an idea by Paul Kotrotsios that Greek Americans and Philhellenes could find business opportunities by networking with each other.
The idea took off and now the Expo has grown beyond its original mission to include not only Greek American and Philhellene businesses, but also non-Greek businesses looking to tap into the Greek American market, Greece and the Balkans. In 2014, the forum shifted to Concordville, PA and in 2018 opened for the first time in Philadelphia as it expanded into New York and beyond.
Key to the Expo’s success promoting “commerce, communication and culture,” is the one-on-one personal contact it provides.
The Expo was instrumental in bringing the municipalities of Thessaloniki, Greece and Philadelphia, PA together through trade missions and exchanges, opening markets for thousands of products and services, as well as hosting cultural events,
“For over 28 years, the Hermes Expo has acted as a facilitator for Greek, Greek American and American businesses looking to work together in our Hellenic and Phil-Hellenic communities. Hermes Expo has developed into a networking and educational platform that brings together thousands of people each year from various professional backgrounds at its events,” Kotrotsios says.
A sharing of knowledge and experience is a large part of the Hermes Expo’s success. This year will see panel discussions on trade, finance, energy and tourism:
- In Washington, DC, a 6 p.m. panel discussion features Gregory Nerantzis, Executive Senior Vice President of The Neratzis Group, Merrill Lynch [Wealth Management]; Chris Marafatsos, President, Blue Sky Capital Management [INVESTMENT OPPORTUNITIES]; Eleftherios Kyriakakis, Founder of Mikel Coffee Company [INVESTMENT OPPORTUNITIES]; Theodoros Galiatsatos Prefect Ionion Islands [TOURISM, TRADE & COMMERCE]; and Salvatore Ritorto, Executive Vice President of Greencrown Energy [ENERGY].
- In Philadelphia, a noon luncheon panel discussion features Phil Kafarakis President, Specialty Food Association [TRADE & COMMERCE]; David Briel, Executive Director, International Investment Office of International Business Development [TRADE & COMMERCE]; Salvatore Ritorto Executive Vice President, Greencrown Energy [ENERGY]; and Eleftherios Kyriakakis, Founder of Mikel Coffee Company [INVESTMENT OPPORTUNITIES].
- In New York, a 6 p.m. panel discussion features Nancy Papaioannou (Invited) President, Atlantic Bank, NYCB [INVESTMENT OPPORTUNITIES]; Andreas Koutsoudakis, Esq., Michael Iakovou, Esq. Koutsoudakis & Iakovou Law Group [LEGAL COUNSEL]; Eleftherios Kyriakakis, founder of Mikel Coffee Company [INVESTMENT OPPORTUNITIES]; • Andreas Kelemidis, owner and President, Oinos Wine [WINE & SPIRITS]; and Sokratis Ballas Regional Sales Manager, Megas Yeeros [GASTRONOMY].
“The opportunities at the Hermes Expo are endless. There’s business card exchange, impactful networking, high profile people, building of relationships, insightful panel discussions, pitching of ideas and so much more,” Kotrotsios says.
The Expo continues its tradition of “honoring exceptional individuals who have excelled themselves in their field of work and have inspired the lives of others through their contributions.” An awards dinner will be held in Philadelphia April 10, starting at 5:30 p.m., at the elegant Estia Restaurant. Honorees past and present have excelled in business, science, religion and more. This year’s honorees will be:
- The Very Reverend Archimandrite Ambrose Bitziadis-Bowers, Presiding Priest of St.George Cathedral, Philadelphia;
- George E. Loucas, Supreme President of AHEPA;
- Sotirios N. Prapas, Director of Cardiac Surgery Department at HENRY DUNANT Hospital Center;
- Cornie Anastasiadis, President of AHEPA #26 Philadelphia;
- Ann Papageorgiou, Media Personality, Washington, DC.
Keynote Speakers at the dinner are Dr. Aristotle Michopoulos, Educator & Author and Chris Alahouzis, Mayor of Tarpon Springs, FL.
Another tradition of awarding Eleftheria scholarships to deserving students will take place at the dinner. The scholarships are presented by the Hellenic News of America, Hermes Expo International and the Mid-Atlantic Greek-American Foundation. They are awarded to high school or college level Greek-American students who complete an essay on one of three topics. This year’s themes are “The significance of mastering the Greek language in today’s world,” “Why should we preserve and perpetuate the Greek language and culture” and “The future of Hellenic Paideia in a Democratic society.”
The essays are judged by a panel of accredited educators and experts. Students compete for up to 37 scholarships that offer a semester of study in Greece via “Paideia”.
Looking ahead, the Expo will continue to grow beyond its original goal of providing investment and networking opportunities for the global Hellenic communities as it expands to other ethnic groups. “The Hermes Expo serves as a bridge to the United States marketplace and abroad,” the Expo website notes.
If you go: There is no admission charge to attend the Expo if you register online, otherwise $20 at the door. For more details about the Expo, B2B meetings and related events, their website is hermesexpo.com.