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3 Dec "Το πραγματικό success story!"

On most occasions, reality dictates the truth. And this is a different truth from that which politicians advertise as their own achievement.


The actual well-being of businesses, is not in the hands of politicians. Besides, politicians have done everything possible in recent years to ‘save us’. But the result is that, one after the other, businesses shut down or ‘move’ to countries which apply reasonable taxation!


In Greece, there are enterprises which not only stand against the tide, but also constantly progress, giving job opportunities to people in need and such businesses set an excellent example for others.


And when such companies are run by young people, that's when these people should be recognized and supported by the state.


Today zouglaport presents such an example, as part of a tribute to the people of Piraeus who excel in their fields of business and whose achievements may provide the spark needed for others to dare.


Two young men at the helm!


During these difficult financial times, two brothers, Byron and Philip Vassiliadis, aged 35 and 32 years have accomplished something which few have achieved.


Having started as workers at their company, they are now at the helm of a colossal group of companies!

As the owners of Antipollution SA and Green SA, they have managed to lead the companies to growth, although at some point, when they were workers, the companies were heading towards bankruptcy.


The story!


The story begins in 1946 when boatmen of the port of Piraeus, formed a union and with their boats and barges started collecting waste from ships that called at the port of Piraeus. The company was later named Antipollution SA. The Vassiliades brothers started working at the company in 2000, when at the age of 22 and 19, Byron and Philip started working as laborers. Within a few years the ability, dedication and their faith was awarded, as they were called upon by their uncle, during a very difficult financial period, to take the helm of the company.


The two young entrepreneurs with enthusiasm, passion and having acquired the necessary know how, after learning the job by starting from the “bottom”, and in cooperation with a group of young people, they were able to cope with the obstacles they encountered and thereby developed a sound and financially independent company.


What does Byron Vassilliades have to say


1) How long having you been operating in the energy sector and which are your companies?


From an early age I always felt the need to create. Losing our parents at an early age, I gave myself the promise to always protect my younger brother Philip. Growing up, we managed together, to create a strong group of companies comprised of Antipollution SA, Green SA, Kafsis SA and Antipollution Processing Center Ltd.  Antipollution SA is active in the management of all kinds of waste. GREEN SA, is a company active in the sector of electricity trading, supply and production.  Kafsis SA is one of the largest animal waste management companies and Antipollution Processing Center LTD, is concerned with the trade and recovery of raw materials.


Greek Environmental & Energy Network is one of the first private companies, active in the trading, supply and production of electric energy in Greece. The company offers high quality electricity supply services at prices which are more affordable, helping thereby to reduce the operating costs of Greek businesses and Greek consumers.


GREEN SA is active in the Greek market since 2009, both in the wholesale and retail market, while always having the goal of creating a model company in the electricity market, which will provide high quality services and acquire a leading position in the market of SE Europe.


The company already has subsidiaries in Skopje (GREEN Energy Trading DOOEL Skopje) and Serbia (GREEN Energy Trading DOO Beograd), while it is also active through partners in Turkey, Albania and Bulgaria, and is looking into expanding its activities in Hungary and Romania.


2) When did you decide to become active in this sector? How did you start and was it a dream of yours related to your studies?


Having studied Business Administration, I was always interested in studying and developing new markets. After carefully studying European electricity markets, I realized early on the opportunities that would present themselves with the liberalization of the energy market in Greece and the creation of a competitive environment in this industry sector.


My professional career began when I was 18 years old and I started working as a laborer at Antipollution SA, while studying during the evenings at the American College of Athens (DEREE). Having acquired in depth knowledge of the business and in cooperation with a group of young people, we managed to successfully encounter the difficulties we were faced with and transformed ANTIPOLLUTION SA, into a healthy and financially independent company, the largest in the field of solid waste management in Greece and Turkey, and for which I have been CEO since 2003.


Having seen the opportunities which were presented by the liberalization of the energy market in Greece, I jumped at the opportunity and together with my colleagues we created GREEN SA, a company, which, due to its zero borrowing and strong liquidity has the flexibility needed to meet the market requirements.


3) How many customers (residential or business) does your company have and can you explain why someone should choose your company.


Consistent customers are those who benefit in the electricity market, besides the lower prices that a private company can offer they should take into account the default rates they are required to pay in order to have the tolerance of PPC. With this in mind, the discount they can achieve is more than 25%, a discount which is very significant. The liberalization of the market which results in healthy competition is advantageous for the ‘small’ consumers who now have various options available.


4) What is the price of electricity when supplied by your company in comparison to the PPC and other energy companies?


To facilitate small consumers, RAE issued a prospectus comparing prices of all providers of electricity during a four month consumption period. In this way, every small consumer can easily compare prices. In order to simplify matters we have set out below the information provided by RAE, listing first the cheapest option and using as an example consumption amounting to 3,000 kwh during a 4 month period, for G21 invoice with 25kwa power.


Green S.A .: 497,98 €


Elpedison: 500.98 €


Watt: 508.33 €


Voltera: 509.08 €


Heron: 518.16 €


PPC: 534,63 €


Despite this the PPC still maintains about 97% of the market share although the competing companies are obviously more advantageous for consumers.


5) When you decided to set-up your business, did you find support from the Greek State? You are a young man, does the Greek state help young people?


Unfortunately in Greece bureaucracy and complex and lengthy procedures have negative implications on the setting up of new businesses, causing them to lose a share of the market. Clearly, complex procedures hinder growth, however, although we were aware of the circumstances and difficulties we would meet, we decided to go ahead and with the proper staffing and adequate capital, as well as the necessary flexibility required in order to get ahead, we achieved in a short time sustainable growth while providing high quality services. Being myself a young man, I understand the difficulties faced by my peers and for this reason our company tries to provide job opportunities and seeks to employ people with fresh ideas and a high work ethic.


6) How well is air, water and the sea utilized in our country for the production of energy? Where do we stand in comparison to our European counterparts in this field?


In our country, lignite, gas and water are mainly used for the production of energy. PPC controls 100% of the lignite and hydroelectric stations whereas, where natural gas is concerned during the last decade investments in modern power plants from the private sector have taken place. Due to the rapid development of RES, wind and solar resources play a leading role in domestic production. During 2013 there were days where the RES covered up to 30% of demand. As for the sea, we are not yet at the stage where we can say that we exploit this source.


Generally, there is a sizable growth in the exploitation of renewable sources, perhaps more than what the electricity system can currently manage. Compared to the rest of Europe we believe that we are very close in terms of penetration of RES in the electricity market. However, we need to bear in mind both the negative and positive examples that have arisen in electricity systems in Europe where there was a very rapid growth in RES.


7) What needs to be done to be competitive as a country in the energy sector?


To be competitive in the energy sector we need to make quicker steps towards the liberalization of the electricity and gas markets. Also the cross border trade of electric energy and gas through the Greek interconnections with third countries needs to be stimulated. Additionally it is necessary that we implement an energy plan which ensures security of supply and also affordable prices for the end consumer. The geo-political position of Greece, situated in a strategic location between Europe, the Middle East and Turkey, renders Greece a major energy hub between East and West. Minimizing bureaucracy and implementing an attractive environment for new investment can give Greece a leading position in the energy sector.


8) As a young man what do you advise people of your age who have a dream but they are not able to be implement the same due to the economic crisis?


As a young man, I advise my peers first of all to have courage. To undertake a very thorough market research to see if their idea can be implemented, is innovative or outdated. If they find that their idea should be realized, they should have faith in their goal. To be eager to work hard and to study all available European funding programs. I would also suggest to network with other young entrepreneurs in EU countries.  Finally, I would advise young people not to be afraid of failure as this is also part of the game.