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50 Years of Experience in Excellence: Interview with Mr Orphee Beinoglou

50 Years of Experience in Excellence: Interview with Mr Orphee Beinoglou

Mr Beinoglou shares his account of how personal entrepreneurial success translates into a whole corporation’s success and vice versa, as well as what keeps him going 50 years strong.

Mr Beinoglou shares his account of how personal entrepreneurial success translates into a whole corporation’s success and vice versa, as well as what keeps him going 50 years strong.

01 May 2024
50 Years of Experience in Excellence: Interview with Mr Orphee Beinoglou

Question 1:

Mr. Beinoglou, it is a pleasure and an honor to speak with you today.

Let’s go back to 1973. You took over the company founded 50 years earlier by your namesake grandfather and turned it from a seven-person operation into a multinational employing hundreds of people. Not bad, considering you originally intended to close it down. Can you tell us what made you change your mind?

The fact is that in 1973, I returned from England, where I was studying, at the insistence of my family, who told me that my grandfather was no longer able to run the company, making the family's financial situation quite difficult. When I joined the company, I started looking into the causes of its failure, even though the instructions I had received from my parents were to close it down as soon and with as little damage as possible.

I began taking the first steps towards closing the business, but the obstacles were many and the costs significant. For example, compensating the employees was costly due to their many years of service, making it impossible for us to afford to meet this obligation.

At the same time, I traveled to Germany, England and America, trying to sell the services we offered at the time, namely household goods transportation. By doing business with two or three serious foreign household goods removal companies and starting cooperation with various companies in Greece, I acquired some liquidity, which made it easier for me to start laying off older employees and replacing them with younger ones. It worked.

I also realized that we lacked the technological means (such as TELEX) to properly communicate with foreign companies, so I made sure we obtained the necessary equipment.

What really turned things around, though, was the war in Lebanon. Over 1000 American companies were based there, monitoring and selling their products and services throughout the Middle East. These companies decided en masse to leave the war zone and find a home in Athens and Cyprus. Suddenly, there were about 2,000 families in Athens who needed a company like ours to transport their household goods from Lebanon to Greece. So, we got a very large clientele and a lot of requests for household goods transportation.

Question 2:

Before taking over the family business, you studied mechanical shipbuilding with the intention of becoming a shipowner. Did this early academic interest influence the company's later expansion into land, air and sea transport?

It's true that I wanted to be a shipowner. Back then, working as engineers in shipping companies, young professionals could learn the secrets of shipowning.

What prompted me to take the company in the direction I did, though, were the needs we had to meet and the opportunities arising from the rapid changes of the time.

Question 3:

And you have certainly made the most of them. But a 50-year career also suggests a love of the business, beyond the circumstances that led you to continue the family enterprise. What made you stay in the business? 

Every new endeavor has its own allure. The more difficult and complicated a project is, the more enjoyment one gets out of successfully completing it. Especially when it’s a project the likes of which we may not have tackled before.

The planning, execution and client's satisfaction with the service provided, is the driving force and inspiration for us to achieve what often seems almost impossible. 

Question 4:

The company is renowned for its experience and excellence in all types of transport, from household removals to the transportation of priceless works of art and archaeological treasures, as well as all types of vehicles. We'd like to hear more about the more specialized side of these services: Fine Art transportation and Relocation.

To be honest, there is nothing we have not transported, by air, truck, or sea. Our aim was always to offer services that others couldn’t, like household goods removal and fine art transportation.

As far as the transport of works of art is concerned, after some training abroad, we have been serving major collectors and almost all Greek museums since 1982. The transport of large sculptures, in particular, requires special expertise. Our crates are known all over the world and all museums abroad copy our manufacturing. They have internal dikes and mechanisms so that any vibrations never reach the work of art. The crate is also placed inside a second crate and in between, we put insulation so that even if something happens to the first crate, the second one will be unaffected.

I remember one case in particular: a work that had to be transported at a 45-degree angle. We studied the matter thoroughly and built a special mechanism to ensure that the object remained stationary at that angle throughout its journey.

Our trucks, which exclusively transport works of art, feature special temperature and humidity conditions inside, travel at a certain speed and are accompanied by either police or security guards because the value of the works is enormous and the insurance companies are very meticulous. If storage is required, the works are transported with special equipment to warehouses with specific maintenance specifications and under strict security conditions.

We often transport antiquities for the Acropolis Museum and other Greek museums. Our first project was under Melina Mercouri when we handled the transfer of antiquities from the old Acropolis Museum in London.

We have also taken on major events such as Documenta in 2017. It took six months to transport and install the Documenta works in different locations in Athens.

Some other exhibitions we have successfully handled include "Greeks" in museums in Canada and the USA, "Antikythera" in Basel, Switzerland, "Immortals" in Japan, "Hagiographies of Mount Athos" in New York and many others.

Equally impressive, but also demanding, are special projects. Some of the special projects we have handled include:

  • The relocation of the National Library from Vallianeio to the Stavros Niarchos Foundation Cultural Centre. A total of 600 trucks were used and the move took four months. Every day, 40 people worked to move the thousands of priceless books, manuscripts, etc.

Each book was first checked by the library's restorers and some priceless items were tagged so that they could be traced en route. In order to be able to move through the particularly narrow corridors of the Vallianeio Hall, we designed special crates with wheels.

  • In collaboration with Yamato Japan and Yamato Frankfurt, we provided full logistical support to the KUROSHIO team for their participation in the global ocean exploration competition "Shell XPRIZE OCEAN DISCOVERY".

This project included receiving, unloading and unpacking the Autonomous Underwater Vehicle, the support vessel and all the equipment that arrived in our country by air, road and sea and transporting them to the Kuroshio team's assembly workshop at Motodynamics (Yamaha's dealer in Greece). Then, we loaded and transported of all the equipment to the port of Kalamata and after the competition, we repacked and reloaded it into containers for return to Japan.

  • In May 2018, we carried out the transport of 3 industrial columns of huge dimensions with a total volume of 870m3 and 10 containers with equipment from EKME in Thessaloniki to Bazan Refineries in Haifa - Israel.
  • Another major project was the transport of 6,800 prefabricated metal structures with a total weight of 7,640 tonnes / 20,563 m3 from the port of Elefsina to the Algerian port of Djen-Djen. This work took approximately 2 years, from November 2015 to February 2017 and included loading, mooring and securing the goods on a total of 12 chartered vessels, as well as all the necessary procedures at both the port of departure and the port of destination.
  • The transfer of a tunnel boring machine for the Sofia - Bulgaria Metro from the city center to a suburb. The heaviest part of the machine, the main unit, weighed 143 tonnes, while the cutting head had a diameter of 936cm and a gross weight of 123 tonnes.

The transport was carried out by special trucks during the night, as all the main roads in Sofia had to be closed. The work was carried out in cooperation with the police, the public electricity company and the public transport company to remove the trolley bus and tram overhead lines. The work took 20 days.

Question 5:

Orphee Beinoglou has not been stalled even by the crisis of the last decade. In addition to the diversity and quality of its services, has the group's multinational presence contributed to its resilience by giving it greater maneuverability in times of crisis?

Based on the evidence so far, I would say yes. In addition to hard work and excellent partners, the diversity of our activities helped a lot during the crisis. When one sector was not doing well, another was thriving.

Question 6:

Speaking of resilience, Orphee Beinoglou celebrated its 100th anniversary last year, a significant achievement. If you could single out one factor, a 'corporate virtue' if you like, crucial to the longevity of your company, what would it be?

Extreme dedication and love for the work and the people of the company.

Question 7:

It was recently announced that Orphee Beinoglou is entering the next chapter in its history by joining the Streem Global Group. What does this partnership mean for the future of your company?

"Strength in unity," our ancestors used to say. I believe that this partnership ensures the potential for further geographical expansion, development of the services already provided and participation in new innovative technologies and activities.