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GreeceBusiness33rd Annual Hermes Expo Shines as a Beacon of Hellenic Culture and...

33rd Annual Hermes Expo Shines as a Beacon of Hellenic Culture and Business Networking

Hellenic News
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By Dorie Klissas and Aphrodite Kotrotsios, Special to the Hellenic News of America

The 33rd annual Hermes Expo, held at the Grand Marquis in Old Bridge, NJ, on Wednesday, June 19th, radiated with incredible energy as visitors, exhibitors, and sponsors came together for a day filled with networking, cultural exchange, and business opportunities. Founded by Paul Kotrotsios, the event has long served as a bridge between American and Greek businesses and professionals, fostering connections and promoting Hellenic culture.

Hermes-Expo-2024-Greek-American-Business-Expo-paul-kotrotsios
Paul Kotrotsios, Founder & President, Hermes Expo

Paul Kotrotsios, the visionary founder of the Hermes Expo, has dedicated himself to uniting Hellenic professionals and businesses. His efforts have consistently highlighted the rich cultural heritage of Greece while providing a platform for business growth and networking. “The Hermes Expo is more than just an event; it’s a celebration of our heritage and a testament to the strength of our community,” said Kotrotsios.

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Deputy Regional Governor of Thessaly, Greece, Dimitris Tsetsilas

This year, the region of Thessaly made a significant impact with its participation. The Deputy Regional Governor of Thessaly, Greece, Dimitris Tsetsilas, along with a delegation showcasing various regional products such as wine, feta, halloumi, and spices, brought a taste of Greece to New Jersey. Their presence emphasized the expo’s role in bridging the geographic and cultural gap between America and Greece, fostering mutual growth and understanding.

Representation from the Region of Thessaly, Greece, showcasing their fine wines

“We are delighted to be here from Thessaly. We brought wine, cheese, feta, halloumi, tea, and oregano. The products are of very good quality, and it is important for our region to present these products to other people and other countries like the United States,” said Dimitrios Tsetsilas, Deputy Regional Governor for Primary Sector and Agricultural Economy.

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Attendees were thrilled to reconnect with familiar faces and welcome new participants. The sense of community and shared purpose was evident as everyone celebrated the achievements and future potential of Hellenic businesses. The Hermes Expo once again proved to be a vital platform for promoting business, culture, and networking.

As the event concluded, the overwhelming consensus was that the Hermes Expo continues to be a cornerstone for Hellenic professionals and businesses, strengthening ties and opening doors to new opportunities. The excitement and positive energy from this year’s expo set a promising tone for future events, reaffirming the Hermes Expo’s mission to unite, celebrate, and propel Hellenic culture and business forward.

Angelo Valavanis and Paul Kotrotsios

“It’s a huge turnout this year,” said Angelo Valavanis, Regional Sales Manager of Grecian Delight | Kronos Foods, whose company is celebrating its 50th anniversary. “It’s been a successful show, as many people are interested in doing business with Mediterranean foods, a growing segment in the United States that is becoming mainstream.”

“Our main goal is to promote economic development throughout Middlesex County and there are a mix of businesses here at the Hermes Expo to interact with,” said Connor Wallace of the Middlesex Regional County Chamber of Commerce. “We want people to buy local and partner with local businesses instead of going outside the county or state. So it’s all about uplifting each other and creating a good business environment.”

This year, the Hermes Expo attracted both newcomers and long-time attendees.

Among the first-time participants was Eric Goldstein from VoIPX, a Long Island-based telecommunications company. He expressed enthusiasm about the event, noting, “Many different people are walking through, so it’s great to meet new people from a new community.” This diverse mix of attendees highlights the Expo’s broad appeal and role as a vibrant networking hub.

Hermes-Expo-2024-Greek-American-Business-Expo-soft-touch
Daniel Meyer, Evan Fytros, and Paul Kotrotsios

“It’s always a very productive experience for us,” said five-year Hermes Expo veteran Evan Fytros of SoftTouch POS & Payments, who sells a payment system for the hospitality business, retail, e-commerce, and mobile. “We see current clients, meet new people and other vendors, even those not in the restaurant business. Everyone needs a payment system, so the Expo is beneficial in several ways.”

Manolis Pepis

Sea Mineral’s Pepsis Manolis, who hails from Kasos, Greece, has been attending the Hermes Expo for 30 years. “It’s great coming here because of the Greek connections,” said Manolis. “It’s like advertising, and that is our purpose, which is to advertise our products, which you can get in pharmacies, online, or in health food stores.”

First-time exhibitor iPOS sells an all-in-one cloud-based software solution for condo sales, restaurants, and retail stores. “From payroll management to insurance and inventory and ingredient management for restaurants, our goal is to streamline all your business operations in one device,” said Ivan Aquirre. “We are based in Miami, Florida, but are expanding nationwide, so it was great to share the news with people and other vendors at the Expo.”

Simos Kontos, Paul Kotrotsios, and Lamar Smith

Lamar Smith of Dreams Ice Cream in Pennsylvania also wants to expand. “We cater ice cream and have one store, but we want to expand this into some hotel opportunities, potentially with individuals and businesses here,” said Smith. “We have 55 flavors, and people enjoyed the assortment of flavors from lemon meringue pie to blueberry and apple pie and top-selling favorite, Cookie Monster.” He is happy to report that “ice cream makes the world go round.”

“The Hermes Expo is a great event because it brings people from international organizations, as well as New York City, and our local businesses here in Old Bridge,” said Steve Mamakas, Economic Development Office for Old Bridge Township.

Paul Kotrotsios, Ted Karsos, and George Drogaris

“There are a lot of really good small businesses here, whether established or just getting started. So, it’s really good to see people trying to network and grow their businesses,” said Ted Karsos, CPA, HFM.

Harry Pateroulakis, Aris Hartouliaris (Zagori Water), and Manos Eleftheriou (Green Cola)

“We have some new brownies we’re selling wholesale to restaurants, one fudge, and the other caramel. People are impressed that it is a frozen brownie manufactured in Minnesota and shipped to whoever wants it. They are easy and taste good,” said Anna Xeinis, General Mills.

Sokaratis Ballas

“King Souvlaki has six locations, including our food trucks and one store in Brooklyn. We hope to expand our family business throughout the country. We are still in production and should launch soon, so we are sharing our product with everyone to see how they react. You can learn a lot from their comments,” said Anthony Tsampas, King Souvlaki.

Stephen Spartinos, Karen Mizzi, Aphrodite Kotrotsios, and Georgia Margiotis

St. Paul’s Autism Research and Training Academy, based in New York and Greece, provides therapy for children with autism. “We provide therapy for children with autism. We wanted to showcase our cause and present it to the Greek community. Making connections with other businesses or partners is why we came to the Expo. Whether fundraising or services we can use, it’s been a great experience. We have made some good connections,” said Stephen Spartinos of St. Paul’s Autism Research and Training Academy (SPARTA Agency).

“We are excited to share our protein products with adults and children at the Hermes Expo. Our products are 100% pure goat and sheep’s milk protein, produced in Greece and shipped to the United States,” said Manny Xidias of Bigger Fish Marketing, representing Real Greek Protein and Real Greek Dairies.

“We had a great reception. We have connected with people and talked to many alumni from Rutgers. We’ve also spoken to some prospective students and people who might be interested in public health now or down the line,” said Brittany Gerstik of Rutgers School of Public Health in Piscataway, New Brunswick, and Newark.

“My children’s books focus on Greek culture and traditions. When I learned about the Hermes Expo, I thought it would be a great way to connect with people so they could learn about my books and share them with their children. We have to have children understand the why behind things that we do, and this is the only publishing company that does that. We tell stories that give us historical, cultural, and religious context for the traditions we celebrate,” said Anna Prokos, Author, A to Z Publishing.

“The PanHellenic Scholarship Foundation has awarded over 700 scholarships totaling nearly $5 million to students with at least 25% Greek lineage. We award a $10,000 scholarship for needs-based kids and $2,500 for non-need-based kids each year. We wanted individuals at the Hermes Expo to be aware of our work, including internships, and mentorship opportunities,” said Robert Buhler, Chairman of the PanHellenic Scholarship Foundation.

George Danis, founder, with his grandson Christos Klotzbier, and Zac Savaria

“This is our first time at the Hermes Expo. We drove down from Massachusetts and put everything in a U-Haul Truck. We have two variations of Loukaniko, one that’s garlic and onion-based sausage, and the other is orange and white wine-based. These are our test products right now. It’s an excellent opportunity for us to get feedback from people who are trying it and let us know if they like it. So far, it’s been very positive. So we feel like we’re close to a production-ready sausage,” said Christopher Klotzbier, Mediterranean Fine Foods.

Konstantinos Motsios (center) with the officials from the Region of Thessaly, Dimitrios Tsetsilas, Dimitrios Stavridis, and Dimitris Sofologis

“This is the third year that we have come, and it’s an event that we benefit from,” said Konstantinos Motsios, Mega Yeeros.

Dr. Ioanna Kotrotsios

“We’re importing Greek olive oil soaps to the United States and selling them on Amazon and in our storefront in Staten Island, New York. Who doesn’t love products made from olive oil? Aside from that, we started our own skincare line made from clay and cetyl hexamethyl type 8, which is an anti-aging agent. It helps prevent fine lines from forming,” said Dr. Ioanna Kotrotsios, President, EUPHORIE.

“We had a lot of inquiries about people interested in selling real estate in Greece. Also, Greek citizenships, and immigration. So, we’re very pleased with the response we have had today,” said Tasoula Manaridis for Maria Markou Global Legal Group.

“We specialize in primarily group travel, destination weddings, cruises, and travel all over the world. So far it has been good. I am meeting a lot of people and learning about other companies,” said Mary Hanna, Owner, Simply Mary’ed.

Hermes-Expo-2024-Greek-American-Business-Expo-nancy-papaioannou
Nancy Papaioannou, former president of Atlantic Bank and current advisor to the CEO of Alma Bank

“With the name Hermes Expo and Hellenic News, you can’t go wrong. I’m very proud of being here and seeing the evolution and achievements through the years. Congratulations. I will always be by their side, very proudly and with my heart,” said Nancy Papaioannou, Senior Advisor to the CEO of Alma Bank.

“My company mainly reduces costs for products made from paper, glass, plastic, and wood. I try to find more economical products for companies to achieve this. This is my first year as an exhibitor. It’s amazing. Everybody seems interested in this because when you achieve cost reduction, you boost your profits. Because this cost reduction helps you then to invest your money in something else,” said Rafael Molho, Managing Director, TradeCoup, Thessaloniki, Greece.

“We are an IT services company and a managed service provider. We serve small-to-medium-sized businesses and municipalities in Jersey and New York. It’s been amazing. We met many great people, and the amount of traffic today was great. We made a lot of new connections,” said Tele Koukourdelis, President, TK1 Solutions.

The 33rd Annual Hermes Expo proved to be an exceptional event, seamlessly blending business networking with the celebration of Hellenic culture. With a diverse mix of exhibitors, new participants, and long-time supporters, the expo showcased the vibrancy and potential of Hellenic businesses and professionals. The enthusiasm and positive energy throughout the event underscored the importance of such gatherings in fostering connections, promoting economic growth, and preserving cultural heritage. As the expo concluded, it was clear that the Hermes Expo remains a vital platform for uniting the Hellenic community, driving business innovation, and celebrating the rich cultural legacy that binds Greek-Americans and their homeland. Cheers to future Hermes Expo events that continue to build on this legacy, creating new opportunities and strengthening the ties between Greece and the United States.

For more information about the Hermes Expo, please visit www.hermesexpo.com

The copyrights for these articles are owned by the Hellenic News of America. They may not be redistributed without the permission of the owner. The opinions expressed by our authors do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the Hellenic News of America and its representatives.

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