By David Bjorkgren, Senior Editor
Special to the Hellenic News of America
First-time Expo visitor Stanley Giannas wants to expand his carryout business, the, in Fallson, Maryland. He came to the Hermes Expo International in Philadelphia April 10 and liked its Greek flavor, figuring it was the perfect place to find an importer of Greek foods. “I only have Greek things,” he explained.
Alexander Karas, a correspondent with Hellenic News of America, was at the Expo to promote AMK Tactical with his partners, George Stakias of the U.S. Secret Service and John Chrissomallis.
Sure, it’s mostly a food show, but he figured there were a lot of financial bigwigs here as well. “You won’t find a better armed protective detail to protect these VIPs,” he said. More than that, his company can also help those in the food industry to verify the origin of a product. “They may say it’s from Greece. We can say if it’s from Turkey or Spain,” he said.
Konstantinos Georgiadis, general manager of Amphitron Holidays, was at the Expo to promote “Greece for 365 days,” to tourists in the United States. The Expo gives good exposure to the hospitality industry even when the focus is on food because tourism means wine and culinary tours. “They get a taste of that here and then they have all they want in Greece. It’s good exposure,” he said.
This was the first time at the Expo for Dana Stidham, representing Atlantic Barter. “The food’s great. The attendance is good. The variety is great. I’m very happy to be here,” she said. Atlantic Bartering is introducing the concept of bartering and trade dollars to business owners at the Expo.
Jim Petkovitis, recording secretary of AHEPA Hercules Chapter No. 26, was impressed with the quality and range of the tables and products. “It’s a professional atmosphere but it’s very easy and loose to interact with people.”
Natassa Thiakou, representing the Mikel Coffee Company, said they are hoping to open more coffee shops in the U.S. Mikel has 200 coffee shops in Greece but only two in the United States. They offer fresh products with a well-educated and well-trained staff. “The Expo has been a good experience, she said, adding, “We’re doing great.”
Speaking through a translator, the owner of Vavitsas Pies and Sweets said this was his first time in the United States. He has five stores and a bakery in Greece, producing traditional handmade Greek pies, using raw materials from Trikala, Greece. The owner liked seeing the different people that came to his exhibit and the potential connections to distributors. “They believe in the market. They believe in the Hermes Expo and they believe in their product.”
This is the third year at the Expo for Kontos Food, Inc., out of Paterson, New Jersey. Kontos produces 65 different flatbreads as well as traditional Greek pies and pastries. “I have a good time here and I’m looking forward to next year,” said Nikos Zavolas, a Kontos Food representative. To our surprise and honor, Steve Kontos popped in the Expo and was pleased to meet a few distributors and clients as well. Kontos is a supporter of the Hellenic News of America since its inception.
Tyrnavos Cooperative Winery and Distillery represents 466 member growers from Greece. The co-op sells its wine and alcohol products throughout Greece and Australia and showed up at the Expo to expand its presence in the United States. Talking at the Expo today with buyers and potential representatives-importers, can lead to deals the next day, the next week or the next year, said Nektarios Siomos, a co-op representative.
Yiamas Dairy Farms is a startup in upstate New York offering a high-quality Greek yogurt. Kostas Symeonidis is a fourth generation dairy producer from Greece who brought over his grandfather’s yogurt and dairy recipes when he realized the American market for Greek yogurt was growing. He came to the Expo to attract distributors that might want to carry his product and grow their business. “It’s been very good so far. Hopefully, we’ll get some business in the area, in Philadelphia and all over the United States.”
Another company looking to expand is Global Blends with co-owners Robert Demos and Tom Memmo. Global Blends is an environmentally friendly coffee distributor out of Norristown, PA that owns multiple brands of coffee they roast and package themselves. “I think we can provide the Greek community and diner owners a better level of service and better coffee at a very competitive price. That’s what we’re trying to do.” The Expo has been a great experience. That is why we are a Brandywine Valley Restaurant association vendor. “At the Expo, it’s almost like a family. Everybody knows everybody and they are able to communicate with each other about the level of service we’ve provided already to our customers and the word is really starting to spread,” he said.
Kondylis TechCool has been in Patras, Greece for 30 years selling food industry equipment, especially display and refrigerator cabinets. This is their first time at the Expo as they seek out distributors for the U.S. marketplace. “The show was very helpful according to our standards. Very professional. We’ll be present at the Hermes exhibition next year 2020.”
Helen Kandaras with Parnon Estates, was pleased with the response at the Expo. “We met a lot of great, wonderful people, connecting with a lot of buyers and trying to close a few deals. Working with partner Christos Dimas, her company produces and markets ultra-premium organic olive oil from Greece. “This was a great idea to meet with other buyers and help other Greeks and Greek Americans as well in the network,” she said. They plan to return next year.
Sal Crisci of Plymouth Beef, a ground beef manufacturer, is a regular vendor at the Expo, impressed with the number and quality of people that turn out for the Expo. “That makes the event worthwhile,” he said.
Everyone had something good to say about this year’s Hermes Expo Trade Route B2B offerings, choices and variety of products, for all three Cities, Washington, DC, Philadelphia and New York.
More on this year’s Expo please visit our web www.hermesexpo.com