What happens when a company brings together the Swiss rationalism and professionalism, the Greek way of looking at life – remaining unaltered for centuries -, the quality of life in Greece, fantasy and creativity?
The answer is quite simple; a very successful business, a little gem – showcase of European entrepreneurship -, a company celebrating the successful synthesis of Greece’s long-term legacy in producing olive oil- olive trees caressed by Greece’s ample sunlight and its unique climate offer generously this life-giving source – with state-of-the-art technology and the most advanced marketing strategies.
Philippos Hellenic Goods olive oil production plant, located in the area of Kypseli in Aegina, was established by entrepreneur Philippe Poli.
Philippe, of a Greek mother, descendant of the well-established Papastratos family, and a Swiss father, grew up in Lausanne, Switzerland. At the age of 24, Philippe returned to Greece to work in Papastratos family business where for 20 consecutive years he contributed in the development of the vigorous cigarette manufacturing industry, acquiring significant experience in the manufacturing process becoming also acquainted with the unique way in which things pretty much evolve in Greece.
My first acquaintance with Philippos Hellenic Goods took place at the company’s elegant stand during the Pistachio Festival of Aegina (Fistiki Fest) in 2015. This is how I got the invitation to visit the seat of the company in Kypseli. The company’s facilities, just like the company itself, bring together a modern architectural complex of two minimal cubes (housing the manufacturing plant and the storage areas) painted in colors of olive oil trees and a traditional residence (office areas) in dazzling bright white plastered walls and floors coated with grey cement mortar. This exemplary model of good taste stands out in its cleanness and state-of-the art equipment and resembles an intensive care unit or better yet, a space station.
The best olives from selected producers from the regions of Laconia and Messinia (in the Peloponnese) and the region of Sitia (in Crete) arrive at the plant where they are stored in chilled tanks (controlled through a specialized IT network). Then, oil blends are created. The olive oil finally produced is bottled in truly exquisite packaging. The company produces oil olive from specific organic olive groves or creates oil blends, Philippe’s most treasured business activity, possibly due to the long history behind this, and then, distributes its products to end consumers.
“I could not get over the sad observation that large quantities of Greek oil, Greece’s gold, were sold unprocessed to foreign agencies (and mostly to Italy) that where the ones to finally reap all earnings that processing and packing activities, being more lucrative, ensure. On the other hand, by living in Aegina, I was able to enjoy an incredible quality of life – when I worked to Papastratos plant I used to go to Piraeus every day – and I always thought that it was a blessing to live and be in a position to create something in Aegina. This is how I decided to build my plant here”.
Being fully acquainted with Greece’s particularities, Philippe was wise enough to ensure his plant’s autonomy in water and power supply, nitrogen production and waste collection to save him unpleasant surprises.
As I was leaving Philippe and Philippos Hellenic Goods, a verse from the poem The Little Mariner of Odysseas Elytis, winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature, came to my mind:
If you deconstruct Greece, you will in the end see an olive tree, a grapevine, and a boat remain. That is, with as much, you reconstruct her.