Vyron Vasileiadis, is a 41 year-old entrepreneur and head of the Vasileiadis Group of Companies with a total turnover of 140€ million and more than 350 employees. So, who is this dockworker, who took risks, followed his dream and invested in waste management services – with respect to the environment always in his mind – ? The misconception about entrepreneurship in Greece is, probably, one of the main reasons of low growth rates in our country. Many people believe that the private sector and, as a result, entrepreneurs, stand against the government and the public sector. However, there are cases of people that have proved them wrong. Despite many obstacles, there are Greek businessmen who insist on investing in the Greek economy, strongly believing that our country has great potential. They support the notion that entrepreneurship can be a crucial factor for our country’s economic development. Mr. Vyron Vasileiadis, a 41 year-old self-made entrepreneur, is such an example. He is proof that the greater the will, the smaller the difficulties. He started his career as a dockworker in the port Piraeus. He worked hard, took risks and, as a result, created a healthy and continuously developing Group of Companies; members of which are Antipollution SA and Green SA. Antipollution is one of the largest waste management companies in Greece and the leading Greek company worldwide in the fields of Port Reception Facilities, Solid Ship-Generated Waste management, Cargo Residues and Emergency Response Services. It is also a strategic partner with Veolia, the largest waste management company in the world. Green is the largest Greek energy trading company in the SE European Region. His passion for business led him to new endeavors and investments and today, his group of companies has a total turnover of more than 140€ million. According to Mr. Vasileiadis, there is one “principal” that motivates an individual to be involved in the business sector and all the responsibilities that come along with it. This principal is “creation”. “Everybody sees how you look. Only a few people understand what you really are”. This quote by Machiavelli, easily relates with most people involved in business, underlines Mr. Vasileiadis in the “business stories” section. He believes that a successful businessman has three fundamental characteristics: lifestyle, love and creation. As he explains: “I never considered my business activities as work. For me, it is a way of life and the effective operation of the group is my priority. Equally as important is the love about what I do; the feeling that everything I do brings me closer to my dreams, helps me contribute to society, to my country and to the people around me. This is my only motivation. And when I realize that such efforts are recognized, it makes me want to try harder”. Concerning creation, he notes: “Even if creation is a result of one person’s vision, it could be part of something bigger. Business creation isn’t all about shareholders. It actually concerns the total prosperity of a country and the society that surrounds it. Every business activity should aim to benefit the whole community. That’s the only way we can proceed on dealing with all the challenges we face while keeping our confidence and our efficiency.” Mr. Vasileiadis added that: “the real profit of a company doesn’t have to do with its earnings. But rather with the social value created through its activities”. Bearing this in mind, Mr. Vasileiadis devoted himself to Antipollution SA’s success. He managed to lead an almost bankrupt company, to one of the largest waste management services suppliers in Greece; serving the largest Greek ports and undertaking projects in Greece and abroad.
From the barges of 1946
Antipollution’s history begins to unfold in 1946, when the barges of the port of Piraeus formed a union and collected waste from the ships approaching the port. Later on, the company was renamed as AntiRipantiki. Its current international name is Antipollution SA. Mr. Vasileiadis’ involvement with the company began when he started working as a dockworker. Along the way, his brother and he were asked to take over the management of the company from their uncle. Antipollution began to grow from collecting ship-generated waste from the port of Piraeus and expanded to many ports in Greece. In addition – always with a “zero waste” philosophy and the principles of “circular economy” in mind – two fully equipped factories were built. One had to do with environmental engineering as well as the collection, processing, transportation, storage and management of both hazardous and non-hazardous waste; while the other focused on producing secondary fuel. Τhis way the company was involved in the full spectrum of waste management, getting the most out of its activities.
Investments in Electric Energy- Renewable Energy Sources
At the same time, Mr. Vasileiadis made investments in the energy and renewable energy sector. In 2009, Green SA was established. Today it is the largest Greek electric energy trading company in SE Europe. The aforementioned companies, along with others within the Vasileiadis Group, are constantly evolving through new, innovative investments, further increasing not only their turnover but also their staff. Today, the group has more than 350 employees, a number that is constantly growing. “Supporting society and tackling unemployment while also strengthening the Greek economy, is our goal”, Mr. Vasileiadis said. Especially during the harsh times of the economic crisis, the Vasileiadis Group did not “follow the masses”. On the contrary, the Group maintained and even increased the number of its employees, retained salaries at high levels and kept investing on educational programs, additional health benefits and wellness initiatives for its people. At the same time, it never stopped seeking business opportunities. The Group, based on a strong investment plan in Greece and abroad, expanded in the field of renewable energy. Today the group is totally owned by Vyron Vasileiadis. Proof of its successful journey is the numerous distinctions from Greek and international organizations, such as the European Business Awards, with the participation of companies across Europe. “Awards were never the goal. They are though, recognition of our efforts. Together we have accomplished a lot and such acknowledgments, give us the motivation we need to keep going”, says Mr. Vasileiadis who was selected by the World Economic Forum as one of the 121 Young Global Leaders, representing the most dynamic and innovative young entrepreneurs in the world. With his participation in the “40 under 40″ list, he became one of the most talented entrepreneurs under the age of 40.
Persistence and hard work
Mr. Vyron Vasileiadis is one of the Greek businessmen that took a risk by staying and investing in Greece during the economic crisis. He strived for a better future for his country and wanted to contribute to the rebirth of the Greek economy. The decisions he had to take were anything but easy since the energy and the environmental sectors were quite new at the time. Failures were part of the game but also part of the lessons learnt. Risks and hard work paid out and today, he is a bright example of a person with vision and persistence who succeeded; some might even say a role model for Greek start-ups. He might have experienced the Greek reality at its worst, mainly lack of political stability and legal framework, obstacles in licensing procedures, etc., but he tackled these situations. As he usually says, “If you can succeed in Greece, you can succeed anywhere”, while he adds that “I believe that Greece has a bright future”. His latest initiative though is not a business-related. It concerns a profound responsibility towards society, through the establishment of a foundation dedicated to his mother who passed away at a very young age. It is a non-profit organization aiming to support children in need and stray animals. Apart from the Vasileiadis Group’s donations, the foundation is supported by volunteers – companies and individuals – who believe in its mission. As he says, “We have an obligation to support those in need”. In reality, entrepreneurship has nothing to do with the type of company, but rather with a person’s ability to innovate and create added value for all. “It is about creating a heritage and inspiring people to participate in something bigger than themselves, serving the greater good”, Mr. Vasileiadis concludes.