By: Aphrodite Kotrotsios, Publisher
Special to the Hellenic News of America
Peter Alemis is a young entrepreneur who has stepped into the family business and has helped it grow exponentially. Born and raised in the suburbs of Chicago, Peter is putting his skills from Wall Street to the test for his family business. In his downtime, Peter likes to run half marathons, read and explore restaurants. Here is what he had to say to me about his ambitions.
Aphrodite Kotrotsios (AK): Where were you born and raised?
Peter Alemis (PA): I was born and raised in Palos Heights, a suburb outside of Chicago, IL
AK: What is your educational background?
PA: I studied economics at the University of Illinois and then moved to New York City to pursue a career in finance.
AK: Where are your roots in Greece?
PA: My father was born in a small village called Agioritika, right outside of Tripoli. He was the oldest of six children. My mother was born in Australia to Greek Parents who emigrated after World War II. Half my family still resides in Greece and lives in Tripoli, Athens and Ermioni. We still have various businesses in Greece, including a consulting group in Athens founded by my family, called, Anodiki Poreia.
AK: How are you involved with your Greek American community and why is it important to you?
PA: I am involved in various Greek American organizations in the U.S. as well as a group in Athens which promotes Human Rights Education. The Diaspora, or “The Greeks Abroad” are the most important asset that we as Greeks have. The Diaspora has the ability to lead Greece into a recovery.
AK: What do you think about the future of Hellenism in America?
PA: Hellenism in the U.S. has the greatest potential it has ever had, but it is currently at a crossroads. If we do not properly organize and gather as a true group with a common purpose, we will lose Hellenism as we know it. All Hellenes everywhere should read the book, The Greek Way, by Edith Hamilton.
AK: You are an executive at Family Dental Care, your family’s business, how have you evolved it since you became involved?
PA: I spent my career post-university working an investment banking job on Wall Street. It was all numbers and deal focused. After moving to the family business, I realized how much blood, sweat, and tears are involved in expanding a group and managing people. Handling hundreds of staff each day and maintaining the company’s daily targets evolved me into a leader. And working with the family expanded my life into a different dynamic.
AK: What has been your greatest challenge and how were you able to overcome it?
PA: Transitioning from a corporate role to an entrepreneurial one was very difficult. But it made me cognizant of what it really takes to get something done. This led me to practically doing every role possible in the company to adjust. Combining the Wall Street skill with the family business has its advantages. Dentistry is an over $130 billion industry and there is a lot of potential to take over the market by providing standardized care. We have seen a lot of our private equity competitors try to keep up with what we have built.
AK: What is your greatest accomplishment?
PA: Since joining, I helped open our 6th location, hired over 50 staff and I am now eyeing locations 7 and 8. We have over 170 employees and are the largest private dental group in Chicago. There is no better feeling than working with family and building a group that will last for future generations.
AK: You are involved politically in your community, please share with our readers your political aspirations and what it means to you?
PA: As a first-generation American, I see how truly privileged we are to live in this country. My father moved to the US at age 16 without knowing English and was able to make it. In order to keep enjoying what we currently have, I believe we must continue to be involved in everyday civic life and speak up when something we see is wrong. My views have been shaped by my father’s recent book, Freedom vs. Socialism.
AK: What advice do you have for young aspiring professionals?
PA: Write down massive goals every day. They may change, and that is totally fine, but they are your guiding light, no matter how absurd they sound. If you are not doing the work daily and overcoming barriers to move towards these goals, how can you truly be happy?
AK: What is the best quote that describes your life motto?
PA: “Early to bed, early to rise, work like hell and advertise” -Ted Turner