Friday, 28 December 2018

EDITORIAL | The Stelios Michailidis story: Supporting sports through Light & Art

There are decisive moments in our lives that are more substantial than others, which could be equal or even superior in value. For instance, most of us would consider moments like graduating from college, meeting our life partner or avoiding a great danger as very important. However, there are some other moments, significant not only for us but also for the future of the people we influenced because of them. The persona inciting these thoughts is an entrepreneur from Thessaloniki, innovative in his investments as well as Technology. He has positively influenced the lives of thousands of people in Greece and the country’s economy has benefited from his work. Nevertheless, the decisive moment of his life we will talk about in this article, is not one of these.
One day in 2014, Stelios Michailidis visited an Auction House near the village of Souroti in Thessaloniki, on a plateau with a view of Olympus Mountain. He passed through a  “garden” filled with monumental contemporary art sculptures, strange forms made of shiny Greek marble, jumping out of the inspiration and the hard work of dozens of sculptors from around the world who had been gathering there for two consecutive summers, at the Greek Marble Initiative symposiums. He stood before some of them and afterwards, even though he had arrived there with the sole purpose of meeting the founder and owner of  Myro Antiques House, he asked to be shown around. This encounter took a different turn, the business meeting lasted a lot longer than was originally expected and Stelios Michailidis left, and shortly afterwards returned with his family. They were guided through the art collection of Myro Antiques House, he participated often in auctions and he eventually built his own significant collection of contemporary works of art and rare antiques.

Some of the entrepreneur’s visits ended in the nearby village for dinner or coffee at the cooperative creamery of local women, right across the court of the local football team. Through Stavros Muronidis he met some of the teenage football players, he watched some friendly or less friendly games and he came in contact with a small Greek village and its animated force: the young people, those the media call ‘the generation of the financial crisis’. Similarly to his first contact with the sculptures of the Greek Marble Initiative four years earlier, this experience left an imprint on him and he decided to stand among the athletes and support these young people in their effort. Sportsmanship and the striving for excellence are not unknown concepts for Stelios Michailidis whose daughter, Nicole, is an award winning dancer, and he himself is a businessman who deals in innovative technologies in Greece and as such appreciates morality and honest effort in adverse conditions.

The new chairman is not from around here
The announcement that businessman Stelios Michailidis became a sponsor and subsequently the chairman of a local low league football team, was largely ignored by the media. As many would think, he is neither the first nor the last Greek businessman who invests in sports, but his case is quite different from the ordinary. Because it was his contact with Art and his meeting with a small community of people who do their best that brought about this result and not the business aspirations or the personal need for public attention of an otherwise humble man. As an art collector and enthusiast, along with his family, he embraced Art and as an entrepreneur, he has cultivated a feeling of responsibility towards the community which he practices through his original and innovative enterprise. So, the new chairman of “Atromitos” from Agios Antonios Thessalonikis is “not from around here”, but –as the athletes, team and local agents must surely have begun to understand – he decided to join their efforts for a better “tomorrow” for the team, for sports, for the young people of a small village with his own vision of excellence.

Successful investor in Energy Industry
In winter, the sun sets early and the villages close to the large cities of Greece seem like boring places to people driving by, under the pale and not always lit street and house lights. The colours of the morning landscape fade and disappear into the darkness and a dimness sets about the surroundings. When you reach the village of Agios Antonios from any direction, you can spot a small area at the edge of the village where the day still lingers and night has forgotten to arrive: it’s the court of “Atromitos”, the local team, under the light of its sponsor, Energy Plus. The green colour of its natural turf, the colours of the seats and of other architectural elements of the court come into complete contrast with the darkness around it, resulting in this local team court to appear as a bright oasis of joy and energy on the dull face of the village night.

Innovative Greek Technology application in LED lighting
Energy Plus manufactures LED technology light fixtures. The Company’s scientific staff carries out pioneering research in the fields of design, lighting, LED display units, chips and electronics. As a result it holds patents and international certification in its field of activity. Its a life investment of Stelios Michailidis, an 100% Greek company which produces its own prototypes in LED lights, innovating both in technology and design. Their products are not just strong lights accomplishing some economy in energy terms. Actually its the study of each space producing a holistic proposal which makes the solutions of the company unique.  Energy Plus was founded in 2012, the object of its work being the manufacturing and utilisation of photovoltaic power production parks. In 2015 it created an LED lighting fixture manufacturing unit in the Industrial Area of Sindos, Thessaloniki. In September 2016 the Swiss interest international group ‘EHOT ENERGY HOLDING AND TRADING LTD’ took a share of Energy Plus’ share capital, dramatically increasing the Company’s capital base and know how. Energy Plus is based in the Industrial Area of Sindos, Thessaloniki, in a 2500 m² production area, where the design, assembly, quality control (three stages) and packaging of final products takes place, and with an annual output capacity of more than 35,000 units. All parts and materials suppliers are locally based, resulting in real and immediate response, no matter the demand.

A story with no epilogue
How could we put an epilogue on something that isn’t over? Stelios Michailidis is one of the many – we would like to believe – entrepreneurs who at some small but decisive point felt that you cannot make a difference in the place where you live only for your own family and social circle. These are people whose vision expands towards every field where they meet other capable individuals, people who invest in Art and Man, people who want to see their ideas and visions be turned into actions. I have the honor of knowing Stelios Michailidis personally, through his status as an Art Collector and it seems unlikely to me that he would listen to Savvopoulos to such an extent that he would be part of the dogma introduced by the verse “Greek communities build another galaxy” – besides this lyric is rather meant in a sarcastic light. However, there is a small, blooming and expanding minority of businessmen in this country who are trying to make what this lyric describes come true. Because when things get tough, that Greek who is worthy of the capital G digs his heels in and turns towards the Light. And at this moment, I cannot draw a better example of this from my circle than Stelios Michailidis.

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