Below you can see the interview I gave to the newsit of Mr. Evangelatos (December 2010).
The reason for this interview was the distinction of Manifest, of which I am CEO, from Icap as “Strongest Companies in Greece”, a distinction that is usually received only by strong multinational companies. At Manifest we have managed to employ 350 employees and I am very proud that in the midst of the financial crisis not only did we not lay off staff, but we hired additional people.
What does Manifest do?
Manifest Services provides comprehensive, combined facility maintenance services. We provide solutions to general or specific maintenance problems, regular or extraordinary, we provide individual services in thematic areas or all inclusive packages. Services, of high added value and quality of service, in the fields of Cleaning and Hygiene, Security, Green and Renovation Projects, Waste Management, Maintenance of E / M facilities, Disinfestations – Rodenticides, Management of Consumables or Supplies needs.
What is the story? Where do you attribute the results?
Positioned professionally in the industry since 2000 and realizing the low degree of organization, but also the lack of culture of loyalty and customer service, I decided to establish Manifest Services, in 2003, with a focus exclusively on large-scale facilities and high requirements in facility management.
This is because, I appreciated – and I was quickly justified in it – that the time had come when facility management, which dominated the European and global landscape, would be adopted in Greece as an integral part of business plans. Thus, in the person of Manifest Services, the companies found a new strategic partner.
What are the elements that make the Manifest stand out?
Since its inception, Manifest Services has developed an attractive and profitable business proposal based on:
-In the non-negotiable quality of its services.
-In what dominates internationally and is expressed as best value for your money, ie maximizing the return on money invested by the customer.
-To the loyalty to the customer with understanding of his requirements and needs, with commitment to the result, with consistency of flexibility, speed and honesty in his service.
This is how long-term relationships, relationships of trust with customers were built and are being built. Each undertaking of a new project is an honor and a responsibility, but also a new collective creative challenge, in a new development. We serve this goal, because for us “history means continuous evolution, steps forward”. Every day, from the first day of the manifestation until today, we prove that we are a company created to lead the industry.
How do you see the evolution of the industry?
As we had predicted since 2003, the facility management industry is recording a high growth rate. Successful business groups with large-scale facilities have preferred facility management as an integral part of their business plan.
Why do they avoid the complexity and cost of managing many service providers and choose:
-A person to communicate.
-A single team, dedicated to service.
-A single process of cost reduction and control.
-A company as a strategic partner.
All this dynamics restructures the market shares of companies in the industry. A restructuring from which Manifest Services, thanks to the identification of its name with total quality, benefits decisively by consolidating its position.
What changes did the crisis bring?
The current crisis, I would say, has consolidated the trends of change that had already been launched, as international business groups, in the context of restructuring their operational needs and reducing costs, are looking for a strategic partner. Thus, the companies with monothematic provision of maintenance services, without organization and in the absence of modern management systems, leave the industry or cease their activity. The final result is to accelerate the consolidation of the industry and to favor healthy competition, which for Manifest is a springboard for growth.
How much has the crisis affected you?
The crisis that our country is experiencing does not discriminate. No sector avoids the consequences, even if it is not responsible for it. The period of reckless consumption and the “high standard of living”, which was based on the increase of the public debt, has passed irrevocably.
In my opinion, the country is not going to go bankrupt, but the State, the workers and the entrepreneurs must realize that we are obliged to work methodically and hard and live in a rational way.
Acceptance of this “new reality” is, I believe, the most important step, with the second most important being the aggressive response to the crisis.
We see the crisis as a challenge and the business risks that come with it. After all, the course of Manifest Services and its current financial results create well-founded optimism, which in no way translates into complacency.
Is there support from the State?
In our industry, a collective demand has been formed for equal opportunities and equal distances in the public procurement regime. We do not need incentives, as long as the disincentives are excluded.
As for the quality of the services, it has been replaced by legal gimmicks, opaque procedures, obvious photographic devices. This falsifies healthy competition and degrades the quality of services. See the degraded image of public sector facilities.
This closed market, the closed world that has been created must be opened, and this is the responsibility and sole responsibility of the State.
What results do you expect the Manifest to record for 2010? What are your goals and future plans?
In an environment, a product of the crisis, our forecast for the year 2010 shows an expanded turnover by 29-31% and a corresponding increase in profitability by 10-11%. Results that leave much room for optimism for 2011.
The fact that for Manifest Services 2010 is the best year in terms of turnover and one of the best in terms of profit is a sign that it is entering a new era.
We aim to increase our market share, while maintaining the health of financial figures and enhancing positive operating results. At the same time, we are planning the relocation to a new building, aiming at strengthening our organizational and technological infrastructure.
However, we are always on the alert, because in today’s economy everything is interconnected and some possible upheavals – without effects at first glance – can hit the periphery of the industry with lightning speed. After all, it seems that globally, the current economic downturn will last longer than any other economic slowdown we have seen in recent economic history.
What weapons do you face in the future?
We know historically that times can be difficult now, but nothing lasts forever. But, even then, business development is not ordered but prepared with the total quality of services through organizational planning and optimization of service.
And all this requires investments, which we have planned, and financial health that we have achieved, creating an ideal and safe working environment for our staff and partners.
What were the turning points in your 7-year course?
One of the features of Manifest Services is the fast reflexes, the speed of developments requires it. Flexibility and adaptability allow us to make quick decisions and implement them even faster.
Indicatively, as such decisions we can record the creation of the first subsidiary of the Group – Manifest Security – as well as the creation of a modern, autonomous Training Center.
What was the happiest moment?
This short course of 7 years can only be the prelude to a great effort through which, I believe, with optimism and serious planning, the future will find us again healthy, strong and with fulfilled strategic goals.
The emotions and successes were many and one can hardly single them out or prioritize them. However, when an independent organization with the prestige of ICAP rewards our financial health by awarding Manifest Services the distinction “Strongest Companies in Greece”, then professional satisfaction, but if you want emotion, highlights it as a special moment. Besides, we are the only company in the industry that enjoys this distinction, but in the Greek business scene as a whole, only one in ten companies has the opportunity to join.
Which period would you identify as the most difficult?
Know that the difficult moments and efforts are the ones that have laid the foundations and the seal both in the course and in the identity of Manifest Services.
Particularly characteristic difficulties are related to the first 3 years of the Group’s life due to the narrowness of the initial start-up funds. This difficulty, with its characteristics, defined the personality of the self-created Manifest Services, but also the world of its potential, creating added value.
Given the opportunity, I would like to express my personal gratitude to our customers who, thanks to their trust, overcome every difficult period, but also to all the staff who with hard daily work and method strengthens the strategic position of the company in the industry.
Do you have any advice for young people doing business today? As I have already mentioned, we are also a new company just seven years old, with a staff and management team of low average age. I submit with all due respect to young people, not advice, but experiences. They must use all their talents and abilities, relying only on their own strengths, and firmly adhere to three principles: Hard work! Modesty! Faith and Perseverance! You know, the presence of young people in the business arena, in the heart of the crisis, is the most encouraging sign for the future. Yesterday, as a country, we were borrowing, today, now, we have to produce wealth.