It all begins when Emmanouel Kouvidis, an electrician-installer and salesman of electrical appliances in the Cretan market, decides – despite his already successful career as an independent professional – to quit his job and set up a business of his own. His vision is to produce high-quality pipes, conduits and other related products which would not break and which would ensure the safety of electricians- installers. He buys the first machines, installs them in his father’s café in the village of Tylissos, and, with the help of his wife Stella, begins producing the first plastic conduits for flush installations in plaster walls and other surfaces.
For the first five years, the obstacles and setbacks seem almost insurmountable. Although Kouvidis’ production skills and know-how rapidly evolve, it is difficult to serve distant towns and villages because of the poor transportation network, and potential customers are reluctant to try his products because the prices are considered relatively high for those times and market conditions. Despite these challenges, however, Kouvidis’ focus on quality soon begins to pay off, and his ambitious vision starts to take on flesh and bone. The products quickly earn a reputation for superior quality among the local installers, and word soon spreads to the rest of Greece, driven in large part by the success of the company’s first DUROFLEX conduit – still one of its most popular products today.
The company is trying to build a distribution network with authorized wholesalers of electrical materials in Greece and concludes the first major collaboration with the historic company Konstantakatos Bros.
The company completes a full decade of difficult but successful operation, and at this point achieves an annual sales turnover of 170 million drachmas (€500.000) and has 15 permanent employees.
The business is steadily growing, and, in an effort to address the challenge of distributing its products throughout the rest of Greece, the first distribution center is established in the Korydalos district of western Athens. At the same time, the company installs two state-of-the-art (for that time) production lines and begins to produce the first system of CONDUR-CONFLEX heavy-type plastic conduits, earning the company nationwide recognition. After its debut at the Athens Trade Fair, this revolutionary new product challenges the dominance of steel conduits and changes the status quo for electrical installations.
The doors to the entire Greek market are now open, and the distribution center in Athens operates non-stop, in most cases providing same-day delivery anywhere within the wider metropolitan area. The company steadily expands its distribution network by establishing licensed sales outlets in different locations throughout Greece. The entire marketplace for electrical supplies is now talking about “the Cretan” who is producing such high-quality plastic conduits.
The company has now been in business for 20 years, with an annual sales turnover of 680 million drachmas (€2 million), and 26 full-time employees.
Demand for KOUVIDIS plastic conduits surpasses all expectations. Warehouse space and existing production lines can no longer keep up with the ever-increasing needs of the company’s customers. Its warehouses have overwhelmed the small village of Tylissos, and there is but one solution: relocation in new, privately-owned facilities – a lifelong dream of the founder. All of the equipment is upgraded, including the latest automated production lines, and the entire production process is reorganized to comply with European directives, earning the company the “CE” quality-assurance certification. A new era has dawned for KOUVIDIS!
A turning point in the history of the company: further growth now requires a conscious decision, and the company founder Emmanouel Kouvidis hands over the baton of management to the next generation. The erstwhile private enterprise now becomes a société anonyme with Konstantinos Kouvidis assuming the role of Managing Director. Fully aware of its responsibility towards the environment, the community and its stakeholders, the company has in place ISO 9001, ISO 14001 and OHSAS 18001 quality-management systems. At the same time, the company develops its own fleet of trucks and delivery vans to ensure its customers even faster and more efficient service, while it expands its outward focus to the Cyprus market.
Recognizing that safety is the primary concern in the construction of a modern building, the company develops and launches in the Greek market the first halogen-free plastic conduits, which also emit very little smoke in the case of fire. The CONDUR HF – CONFLEX HF conduit system is produced to address safety concerns in areas with large numbers of people or which house expensive mechanical equipment.
To meet ever-increasing demand, a second warehouse and distribution center is created in Thessaloniki. At the same time, the company enters into a collaboration with the internationally recognized German institute VDE, enabling it to obtain certification for almost all of the KOUVIDIS products. And as a crowning touch to its years of hard work, the company receives an award for professional excellence from the Foreign Ministry of the Greek Government.
The company completes a 30-year journey of uninterrupted success. It has developed prodigious know-how, high-quality conduit systems for many fields, a host of strategic partnerships and a team of dedicated people who continue to follow the company’s vision of excellence. Sales turnover: €6.2 million, and a staff of 53.
Investment in research continues to be a company priority, driving the development of new and innovative products, such as the MEDISOL AM – MEDIFLEX AM series of applications using antimicrobial technology. With such a comprehensive system of conduits and attachments, all with European patents, KOUVIDIS is providing vital solutions for buildings and spaces in which public health is an issue.
Despite the depressed business climate resulting from the international economic crisis, KOUVIDIS makes a strategic choice to continue on the path of ongoing development rather than pulling back and waiting for the storm to subside. This decision is vindicated when KOUVIDIS becomes the first all-Greek company to produce double-walled plastic conduits for underground networks. The company showcases these pioneering GEONFLEX conduits at its first appearance at the international Light+Building exhibition, one of the world’s largest trade fairs for architecture and lighting technology. Furthermore, the design of its new ecological packaging garners widespread praise and is awarded a Greek Graphic Design and Illustration Award.
With its double-walled pipes being the fastest growing product line in the company’s history, KOUVIDIS decides to enter the market for underground sewer and drainage pipes. Launching its line of GEOSAN sewer and storm-water drainage pipes, as well as its GEODRAIN perforated underground drainage pipes (both lines with obvious advantages over conventional cement/PVC pipes) the company upends the market in underground networks. At the same time, the company expands its range of products with the introduction of the GEOSUB line, the “little brother” of the GEONFLEX systems. And for the second year in a row, the company earns the EFQM award for professional excellence.
After nearly ten years in the Cyprus market, KOUVIDIS establishes its first foreign subsidiary in recognition of the growing needs of Cypriot installers. KOUVIDIS CYPRUS LTD is a 100% subsidiary company with a private fleet of delivery vehicles covering the needs of not only Cyprus but the countries of the Arabian peninsula as well.
The company’s focus on markets with high standards and demands leads it to establish a second subsidiary company, EMM. KOUVIDIS DEUTSCHLAND GmbH, in Hamburg, Germany. The goal in establishing this company is to better serve the markets of Central and Northern Europe. KOUVIDIS successfully participates in its third Light+Building exhibition and is recognized on a European level as a name synonymous with high quality.
The rapid expansion of its products for underground networks obliges the company to install a second production line for manufacturing double-walled piping – comprising the largest investment in equipment in the company’s history. Meanwhile, the second generation of GEONFLEX & GEOSUB piping with colored markings is launched – and another patent is awarded. Finally, the company receives a “Great Place to Work” award recognizing it as one of the 25 companies in Greece with the best working environment – an important distinction for the company and its people.
KOUVIDIS is in the process of implementing its 2018-2020 investment plan, which includes: the expansion of its factory, the construction of a new bio-climatic office building and the purchase of new mechanical equipment. A little before celebrating its 40th anniversary – and in order to express the company’s modern character and dynamism – KOUVIDIS is renewing its corporate identity, signaling an era of fast growth, international focus, new goals and ever higher expectations.