In its 30th year, the Hermes Expo exceeds all expectations
Old Bridge, NJ – On Wednesday, October 20, 2021, the Hermes Expo, a leading Greek-American business expo celebrated its 30th anniversary at the Grand Marquis in Old Bridge, New Jersey. Every year, the Hermes Expo hosts the Hermes Awards Ceremony and Dinner. The awards dinner was well-attended by over 300 guests from near and far.
Each year, the Hermes Expo business advisory committee honors distinguished business professionals and community leaders with the Hermes Award. This year, 9 individuals were honored. The evening kicked off with MC, Jason Stavrianidis, a Fifth Generation Jeweler from Venus Jewelers sharing, “This is my first time participating and I am quite honored that the founder and proprietor, Mr. Paul Kotrotsios has entrusted me with this responsibility.”
Next, he called upon His Grace Bishop Apostolos of Medeia from the Metropolis of New Jersey to bless the evening. “I really want to congratulate the heart of this event, Mr. Paul Kotrotsios, and his team and the initiatives they have been doing all these years as we celebrate the 30th anniversary of this event. I am very grateful to all of you that are supporting this particular project. We need to have this connection with the motherland Greece and also with other people living in this country.”
Jason then introduced the Founder and President of the Hermes Expo, Paul Kotrotsios to say a few words to the awards dinner guests. “Here we are 30 years later, continuing to fulfill our mission of promoting commerce, communications, and Culture in the American marketplace and Greece,” shared Paul.
Grand Sponsors of the Hermes Expo, Chris White and Angelo Valavanis of Grecian Delight | Kronos Foods took the stage next to greet the audience. Chris stated, “ We have merged Kronos and Grecian Delight, which are the two biggest Mediterranean suppliers in the country, into a major company, and hopefully we can help a lot of people in this room any way that we can.” Angelo went on to say “I just wanted to say how proud I am to represent Grecian Delight. A fantastic company along with Hermes Expo. Great partners, many years now. We have all supported each other, especially in times like we had last year, we stuck together.”
The first honoree of the evening was Paul Kalamaras, the Senior Executive Vice President and Chief Risk Officer of Investors Bank and he was recognized for his outstanding performance and business leadership at Investors Bank. Paul was introduced by Ana Oliveira, Senior Vice President of Investors Bank. “Paul Kalamaras has been a mentor to me as well as to many of my colleagues. When I first started working for Paul, I found myself in sheer awe, because he can just speak to anyone about anything at any time. Paul often says that he doesn’t know everything and tries to act as he does, but let me tell you that man knows everything. He is probably one of the most intelligent people that I know and one of the most humble people that I know.”
Mr. Kalamaras paid tribute to all his colleagues with who he had the privilege of working with all these years and who joined him that evening in receiving his award. “I also want to congratulate Paul Kotrotsios, because to run a business for 30 years is almost impossible. In particular, if you look at the last few years, people do not know how hard it is to run a business. But you have been bringing out businesses and professionals together for probably more than 30 years and it is a great testament to Paul’s vision, hard work, that this organization continues to grow.”
The second honoree was Philip Christopher, President of American Network Solutions and President of PSEKA, Justice for Cyprus. Philip was honored in recognition of his admirable devotion and promotion of Hellenism in America and his fight for justice for Cyprus.
NY Assemblyman Michael Tannousis said during his introduction, “no one has been a stronger fighter for the Hellenic issues and for the Cypriot issues than Philip Christopher has for the past 30 years. He has been a strong advocate on both sides of the aisle.”
Mr. Christopher shared, “Hermes Expo is one man’s vision that foreign policy and economy go together. Paul Kotrotsios for 30 years has been trying to improve trade relations between Greece, Cyprus, and the United States. They are honoring me because for the past 47 years I have been fighting for the cause of Cyprus. The struggle of the Cypriot people for freedom and justice. All of you should remember 47 years ago, the Republic of Cyprus suffered a brutal and illegal invasion. And for 47 years, all of us as American citizens have been fighting for this cause. We live in the United States and it is unacceptable to us that 47 years after the invasion, Cyprus is still divided. There are 200.000 people waiting to go back to their homes, there are 1,000 people missing, and the Turkish president, Erdogan, on the commemoration on July 20th, went to Cyprus to proclaim that he will undertake Verosha and Famagusta. This is an unacceptable situation for all of us as American citizens. In this room, each and every one of you has power, has influence and the only thing I can ask from all of you is to continue this fight to fight for freedom for Cyprus. If we lose Cyprus, we will lose the Greek islands as well. It doesn’t make a difference if you are a democrat or a republican. What matters is that we are Greek Americans proud of our heritage, proud of our roots, and proud to be fighting for this cause. This award doesn’t belong to me, it belongs to all of you. Belongs to people like Stella Kokolis, Tasos Zambas, Maria Markou, to all the people that are fighting for this cause. This award is not for me. Just remember people like Ted Spyropoulos, Nikos Mouyiaris, Andy Athens, and so many others that died fighting for this cause.”
The third honoree, Dr. Zisis Chroneos, Professor of Pediatrics, Microbiology, and Immunology at Penn State College of Medicine and AHEPA’s Cooley’s Anemia Foundation was honored for his dedication to advance awareness and research on Beta-Thalassemia. Dr. Chroneos shared, “ I am honored and happy to be one of the distinguished honorees tonight and to accept this award tonight on behalf of my students, my family, my fellows, my research team, my collaborators, the Greek community in Harrisburg who have participated very willingly in this project, our local AHEPA chapter, the Cooley’s Anemia Foundation of AHEPA National and in particular to thank my student who is here today, Ms. Gilbert who has been the backbone of this project.”
The fourth honoree, Anthony Papamarkos, the owner of The Graycliff, was honored for his business leadership and philanthropic service to his community. “This is a very lovely affair and I thank you personally. Anything I can do for the community, the Greek-American community, AHEPA, whatever I can do, I will be here for you guys,” Papamarkos exclaimed.
The sixth honoree Meropi Kyrakou, President of Greek Teachers Association “Prometheus” and the Cathedral School principal was honored for her dedication to promoting Greek language and culture in America. “I want to thank Mr. Kotrotsios, Mrs. Kokolis for all her support, and my family. When I came here ten years ago, I didn’t know where this road would take me but it brought me to where I am today,” shared Meropi.
The seventh honoree, Eleftheria Oikouta, Greek language educator at The Community of Holy Cross Brooklyn, The Dimitrios and Georgia Kaloides Parochial School, and theGreek Afternoon School was recognized in honor of her dedication to promoting Greek language and culture in America. Eleftheria shared, “Like today, 21 years later, I arrived in America. No one was waiting for me at the airport, I didn’t know anyone! I came to America to educate your children. Like today, 21 years later, I have established a family. The first people that supported me were Eleni Psara and Stella Kokolis. I have in my heart all my students from Brooklyn and the St. Demetrios Greek School. I want to thank the past president, Costas Eliadis.”
The eighth honoree was Vasilios Kolovos, founder of Kolovos Enterprises. He was honored for his business leadership in the hospitality industry. His sons Dimitrios and Chris introduced their father and shared with the audience, “I want to just say that when an award like this is given to someone like my father who wasn’t fortunate enough to get a formal education and had to do everything on his own, I want to extend this for my father to everyone who is in the hospitality industry who came to this country, had the opportunity, stepped up and worked hard to teach themselves how to be profitable and make it. I just want to say I am so proud of my father and so many hardworking Greek-Americans.”
Lastly, the ninth honoree of the evening was Markos Papadatos also known as the Power Journalist, who was honored for his tremendous journalistic efforts and contributions. Markos gave a shout-out to his family and to several unique people he has interviewed over the years and turned into friends.
Everyone was excited to be together at a beautiful venue, meeting new and old friends, enjoying delicious food, and listening to Greek folk music by DJ Tommy Karas along with Stavros Theodorou & Orchestra. For 30 years, Hermes Expo has been promoting trade, communications, and culture in the American Marketplace and Greece. Professionals from various backgrounds and industries attend in order to expand their network and brand identity. Hellenic and Phil-Hellenes gather from across the United States and Greece for the sole purpose of networking and learning about new business opportunities.