After going virtual last year due to COVID-19, the Hermes Expo was back in action as it celebrated its 30th anniversary for the first time in Central New Jersey at the Grand Marquis in Old Bridge, NJ. Well attended by prominent officials from the State of New Jersey, business leaders, and professionals, Hermes Expo proved that its unique networking platform serves as a jewel for the Greek-American and Phil-Hellenic communities. Sponsors, exhibitors, and visitors from the 5-state area were excited to be back in person and back to live networking.
The Hermes Expo kicked off with a grand opening ceremony at 1 PM sharp. Prominent individuals in attendance included His Grace Bishop Apostolos of Medeia from the Metropolis of New Jersey; Ana Oliveira, SVP, Retail NY Market Executive at Investors Bank; James Polos, Executive Director of the Middlesex County Improvement Authority; Craig Coughlin, Speaker of the New Jersey General Assembly; Senator Sam Thompson (R-NJ) from Old Bridge; Mayor of Old Bridge Owen Henry; Steve Mamakas, Executive Director from the Mayor’s Office of Economic Development, Dimitrios Kontolios, Councilman from Ridgefield, NJ and Chief of Staff Boone from Governor Murphy’s office. To read everyone’s remarks click here.
After the grand opening, Hermes Expo opened its doors to the exhibition floor for visitors to explore, discover, and connect with sponsors and exhibitors of the Hermes Expo. This year’s exhibition featured an array of businesses and professional services for visitors to explore, learn about, and connect with. Several different types of businesses and professional services exhibited from the following backgrounds: foodservice, banking, travel and tourism; beverage service, Greek Wine, payment systems, insurance, legal, PPE suppliers, fine goods, lifestyle brands, photography and so much more. Walking through the exhibit you could feel the excitement and enthusiasm in the room. Here is what some of the exhibitors had to say:
Ana Oliveira, SVP, Retail NY Market Executive at Investors Bank: “Today was great and it was great to be with everyone! I met a lot of new people. The new location drew a different crowd as well as the crowd that used to come. I made a lot of contacts, got a lot of cards and I am ready to have a lot of follow-up meetings. We are happy to support the Hermes Expo. This is our ninth year and it keeps getting better every year.”
Angelo Valavanis, Representative, Grecian Delight | Kronos Foods: “Grecian Delight Kronos is the best in the business. Number one manufacturer of Mediterranean and Greek products in the country. Made in the USA with the best quality. 8/10 of the busiest establishments in the tri-state area, New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, and Pennsylvania, use our products. That’s what’s made themes successful and what keeps customers coming back. I am proud to represent Grecian Delight. A fantastic company along with Hermes Expo. Great partners, many years now.”
Christos Vardakis, Founder, Alpha Omega Payroll Solutions: “It was a great event and a lot of people showed up. I spoke to a lot of potential customers. I saw a few of my clients that came to visit. This was a fantastic event. I am looking forward to next year!”
Chris Mavris Morgan, Founder & CEO, The Lakewood Group: “I am very impressed. The location is excellent. It is right in the center of all of us and I am very impressed because you did a wonderful job, you and your dad and I see a lot of new people and great businesses here. In fact, I met 2 -3 really good new contacts.”
Dr. Ioanna Kotrotsios, Vice President of Marketing, VIP International: “We are a small distributing company located in Staten Island. We are here today showcasing the wonderful products that we import from Greece. We have luxurious skincare from Papoutsanis brand, Olivia, all organic products ranging from different soap bars, body gels, lotions, and shampoos. We also have our organic olive oil from Sparta, Greece that is also imported. We also have PPE including gloves, masks, and various soaps. We are today at the Hermes Expo to make connections within the tri-state area. We think it is a wonderful business opportunity to meet face to face with these different companies and see what products they have to offer as well as the products we have to offer. It is great to support each other locally and we are here every year and will continue to come back!”
Dimitris Spanos, Senior Account Manager, HUB International: “The exhibit was beautiful. A lot of people came and showed up. It was unbelievable to interact with everyone and to show our business and to see everyone else’s businesses.”
Nikos Porfyris, Financial Advisor, Equitable Advisors: “The turnout was amazing. I met a lot of different people. New faces, new connections. Exactly what we wanted to accomplish today and the night isn’t even over yet!”
Nikos Zavolas, Representative, Kontos Foods: “We are here today because we came to support Mr. Paul. The Herme Expo is a very nice expo, something different, different types of companies, not only restaurants.”
Steve Mamakas, Executive Director, Mayor’s Office of Economic Development: “We are here at the Hermes Expo representing the Economic Development Office of the Mayor of Old Bridge. My job is to help businesses prosper in town, attract business, help businesses expand and also recover at this time. The other reason why we are here is for the Hermes Expo. It is a good connecting point for business, it is a b2b kind of event that brings the local business together with the Greek American community and international commerce.
Paul Wilson, Director of Foodservice, Blue Triton Brands: “We are happy to be here at the Hermes Expo this year. It’s a great place to meet other business owners, a great place to network, particularly with the Greek community. Lots of business opportunities and I know that we have had a great time meeting new folks and I knew we are going to have a really good time selling bottles of water to new diners and places where we can grow our business.
Maria Triantos, Business Development Manager, Celestyal Cruises: “We love supporting the Hermes Expo because we are Celestyal Cruises, the Greek-owned cruise line and we love being able to showcase the homeland, taking you to Greece and showing you the islands. Thank you so much Hermes Expo for the partnership and let’s sail Greece together!“
Eleni Santorinaios, Representative, Hellenic News of America: “Hermes expo is an amazing way to have business-to-business communication and networking and beyond. So if you are somebody that maybe wants to get into the business industry and you do not know where to start, this is the place to do it. A variety of different businesses and likings for different people.”
Ellie Panas, Founder, Peace For Greece: I just flew in last night to be in Greece to reach out to the Greek American community to let them know about different business opportunities in Greece and I think other businesses that want to do that as well should definitely partake in the Hermes Expo.”
Anthony Orisses, Founder, Rare Cut: “We invented the only pocket square that no matter how you bend, twist or fold it, it retains its shape and it stays up. My first expo ever and it’s an honor to be here at the Hermes Expo. I met a lot of great people and made some sales here and some great connections and talked about some bigger picture things as well. Hermes is a great opportunity for start-ups or small businesses like myself to come, really meet good people, test your proof of concept, get ideas from real people and be able to connect and potentially collaborate with. It has been an honor being here and I look forward to being here next year as well.
Jonida Lagji, Farmers Insurance Agent: “This is my first year at the Hermes expo. It is a very good venue to meet other businesses, to any small, new or old business owner, they should always keep it growing. So this is the opportunity to meet other businesses, to exchange ideas, it actually helps your business on how something else is working for someone else. Also, the exposure that you get is enormous. This is the kind of the reason I think I will be an annual member with these kinds of expos, especially, Hermes Expo.”
Nick Traperakis, Account Manager – Business Sales, T-Mobile: Besides of course being Greek, this is a diverse group of both Greeks and non-Greeks alike. Any type of business you can find will be here coming from different states representing all different types of businesses. Here we have T-mobile for business, I am a regional account executive. Anyone who has a business large or small, there is not a solution that we do not have for you! Whether you get phones for your family or you need large-scale business solutions, tracking, camera, asset protection, we do it all.”
Evan Fytros, CEO, Soft Touch: “We are here at the Hermes Expo and we are looking for business owners, specifically restaurant owners or other verticles so to speak and if you swing by we can show you how to better operate your business and how we can save you money on your processing.”
Steve Takach, General Mills Foodservice: “It’s a great event to network and meet a lot of different business owners. With General Mills foodservice, we do a lot with Pillsbury products and Yoplait, Nature Valley, and all of our cereals. And the Hermes Expo is a great place for us to meet a lot of new restaurant owners, foodservice directors, and people that we can really find solutions for. It is a great experience.”
Kim Simon, iPlay America: “We are located on route 9 in Freehold, NJ, and we are a family entertainment center and we do corporate and team building events as well.”
Jacqueline Donado, Strategic Program Manager, Queens Chamber of Commerce: “We have been partners for the last 15 years and now they are celebrating 30 years. They are working with Mediterranean countries, especially Greece. And we as a Chamber support local businesses as well as international. The Greek American community is large and very important to us in Queens and that is why we invite all to join us.”
Andreas Kelemidis, Importer of Greek Wines: “We are participating for our 5th year at the Hermes Expo. We are importing and exporting Greek and Italian wines. It is really important that is why we are consistently coming every year at the Hermes Expo to help grow our business and introduce us to all of the businesses and guests of the Hermes Expo.”
Elayne P. McClaine, Regional Director-Middlesex County, NJ Small Business Development Center, at Rutgers New Brunswick: “We are located throughout New Jersey and the U.S. The one thing you should know is that we are part of the SBA and what we do is train, educate and provide counseling for small businesses. That is why we are here today so that the business owners that attend the Hermes Expo can feel free to ask us to grow more and thrive or expand globally.”
Bill Moore, Representative, Lancaster Brewing: We are a Greek family-owned business out of Lancaster, PA. We handcraft beers. We have a full portfolio from light to dark. Our most popular are the stouts that we are known for. Our Milk and double chocolate stout. We also do a range of seasonal beers. We are here today networking letting other Greek restaurants and businesses know that we are out here, we are selling beer in NY, NJ, PA, and other points. We have been in business for 25 years. We have been involved with the expo for years. The owners are family friends with Paul. We always look forward to socializing and networking with everyone here.”
Joe Amore, Representative, Plymouth Beef: This is all we do. Burgers and ground beef. We specialize in one thing. The nice thing about our product is that there are no antibiotics, no hormones, it’s pure ground beef. Everything we do here at the Hermes Expo is to get that product out in front of the customer but most of all let them try it and taste it. I just want to thank everybody for allowing us to be here at the Hermes Expo and it really is a great time with friends and family.
Thomas Paschos, Esq., Thomas Paschos & Associates: ”I have a small law firm. We specialize in defending employment management cases mostly. This is a great venue to meet other employers and other businesses to give them whatever assistance we can to help them out. It’s a great venue to network with other businesses and I highly encourage other businesses to look into it. It is a great venue to network and meet other link-minded employers to collaborate and to come up with strategies to help out their business.
Aphrodite Kotrotsios, Director, Hermes Expo: “It is a wonderful environment for people to get to meet one another, to come together, to exchange ideas and just to see what is going on, what’s available to them, what services, what new products are out there, what’s trending now. It’s a stepping stone, to meeting new faces and getting your product out there, your name out there, your brand out there. Whatever it is you might be here for. It’s just a fantastic vibe. Everyone was so excited to be here today. We are celebrating our 30th anniversary. 30 years in the making. From day one we have been trying to fulfill our mission of promoting commerce, communication, and culture in the American marketplace and Greece. I am excited to say we had several exhibitors from Greece despite the travel ban so that was really cool. We are all just excited to be here and to get back to networking!
Stay tuned for the 31st Hermes Expo set to take place in Fall 2021 in its new home in Old Bridge, NJ, the Grand Marquis. To exhibit at this unique networking platform, contact Paul Kotrotsios at [email protected].