Christian Hadjminas

PRESIDENT OF EFA GROUP

Greece 2022  I  Energy & Industry  I  Interview

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_BIOGRAPHY He graduated in 1981 from Columbia University with a B.A. in Economics (Magna Cum Laude) and in 1983 from Wharton Business School (University of Pennsylvania) with an MBA in Business and Finance. After working as a Senior Trader at Phibro-Salomon Inc. in 1987, he has set up his first company in New York and soon thereafter in 1989, he has moved his business in Greece and established EFA Ventures in Athens.

“WITH THIS BACKGROUND, WE ARE CONSIDERED LEADERS ON ADVISING AND DELIVERING TURNKEY SOLUTIONS ON INDUSTRIAL COOPERATION IN AREAS OF AEROSPACE AND DEFENCE.”

EFA GROUP WAS ESTABLISHED 30 YEARS AGO AND HAVE GROWN TO BECOME OF THE REGION'S MOST IMPORTANT DEFENSE COMPANIES. CAN YOU TELL US MORE ABOUT THE COMPANY'S HISTORY?

 

Our Group was established over 30 years ago and we become the largest Greek defense group of companies. With over 260 employees and continue to grow nearly 40% every year with last year reaching a record 50% growth. Our traditional markets have been the United States and the Middle East but, today, our main priority is to develop the European market as it is where demand is at the highest as defense budgets have loosen up.

 

Today, we export to 55 countries which makes us very special as never in the history of our country a Greek defense group has been so successful. We continue to expand our line of products following market trends and listening to our client’s needs and we respect our philosophy of non-lethal products.

 

EFA GROUP HAS BECOME THE MARKET LEADER AND NOT A COMPANY BASED IN GREECE BUT ALSO HAVING ITS PRODUCTS DEVELOPED AND DESIGNED BASED IN THE COUNTRY. HOW IMPORTANT IS YOUR GREEK IDENTITY?

 

We have an entrepreneurial mindset and have made important investments to expand our operations and be ahead of the curve. We are proud of our Greek-based operations as we consider that Greek engineering offers the best value for money in the world. We implement project integrations in aerospace, security & defense using our own capabilities and through strategic alliances with partners worldwide.

 

Our core technology, the assembly, the quality, everything is Greek. We are proud to have reached many milestones such as being the first Greek company in the world to provide night vision and the market leader. In thermal, we have recently started having major successes, especially in North America, Far East and Europe. We do not just seek to export, but we promote local industrial cooperation. We are not at all shy about transferring technology. We believe in true partnerships.

 

Our country has faced many challenges during the recession in 2010 and one of the main issues was the brain drain because of the economic crisis in the country. Today, I believe this was beneficial for Greece as most of the engineers returning to our country had the opportunity have an international experience being exposed to new cultures and technologies. In our industry, this is the most important factor and as we continue our expansion plan, which includes the acquisition of the best opportunities still available in the market, we are also looking for the best quality workforce available.

 

The new way of production is even more in need of good engineers, and in Greece there are many. But they should also adopt a more business thinking when designing products. We decided to create our own talents through retraining. Greek companies need to look again at their own executives and find ways to upgrade them.

 

EFA GROUP IS EXPORTING ITS PRODUCTS TO 55 COUNTRIES. CAN YOU TELL US MORE ABOUT YOUR EXPANSION AND INVESTMENT PLANS?

 

Recently, we have setup a new subsidiary company of THEON SENSORS, in Arlington, Virginia, USA, investing in DEFENDER LLC a start-up company, based in Maryland, Baltimore. The new strategic investment is expected further to increase the rapid growth of the Group and to reinforce its commitment towards further expansion in international markets. The US market remains a key priority for the company and we aim to further strengthen our growing presence in the US industry while developing new and advanced products in the field of night vision and optronics. The launch of new products will appeal to a larger scale of the US market users.

 

We have offices and industrial investments in the U.S. We have been selected by the U.S. Marines, with a partner of ours in the U.S., to provide night vision equipment. We have also opened an office in Germany, where we are major suppliers of night vision equipment, and in German-speaking countries like Austria and Switzerland. We have an office in Abu Dhabi for more than eight years. Besides, we have offices in Singapore, and coproduction facilities in Indonesia and India. To how many countries do you export your sensors. We have relooked at all our products improving their quality and cost-wise for the benefit of all our military and law enforcement customers. We have major contracts in the U.S. night vision market. We are also successful in Europe having won most of the night vision programmes. While we match other brands in quality, we are some 20 per cent cheaper and thus more competitive. As a policy, we do not overcharge as we aim at long-term relationships. When we started from Greece, the brand name of Greece in the defence industry was not high. So, we had to be reasonable in prices

 

With our extensive experience of 30 years in the defense sector and through a wide international network of partner companies, we operate on an international scale. We support our customers and partners on a turn-key basis with a broad range of services which focus on market strategy, planning, technologies and operations, logistics support, project management, international business research and advisory, as well as design and development of digital industrial services. With this background, we are considered leaders on advising and delivering turnkey solutions on industrial cooperation in areas of aerospace and defence.

 

In 2004, we have started doing exports at a time all our competitors were focused in other priorities. We have been listening to the market on what kind of products were needed and how they should be made. There are various trends in the industry, one of them is interoperability. Greek products have suffered prejudice in the beginning but today the market recognize our products. We have proven that Greece has good engineering that can design specific products oriented to the market needs with the highest international standards. Greece offers numerous opportunities and I believe strongly in the growth of the high-tech sector which presents one of the biggest growth opportunities.