60 - Savannah News-Press • Sunday, January 21, 1990
The New Greek Shipping Tyo • Itns
To Preserve Computer Savvy
EDITOR'S NOTE. The legend of the
And Develop Greek shipping tycoons began earlier this
century with the "sea wolves," sea captains
who acquired vast fleets, dynamic mag-
Is the Thing nates with business savvy and a gambler's
touch. Their lives and loves were chronicled
on the front pages of the world press. Now a
developers make strange new breed is at the helm, introducing mod-
bedfellows. ern business practices, and much of the ad-
Developers many times venture has been lost.
think preservationists don't like
anything new. On the other hand, By MARY BETH SHERIDAN
preservationists think developers too The Associated Press
often view historic treasures as old
junk in the way of progress. PIRAEUS, Greece - They were the
That is the perception. And that Golden Greeks, fiercely independent men
perception has ruled Savannah. After who controlled the world's snipping,J>uilt
six months of reporting Savannah's lush island paradises and married~societyrir TYCOON ATMOSPHERE: Plants abound the modern offices of the Thenamaris Ships Management Inc., in Piraeus, Greece
business news, the issue intrigues me most glamorouswomen.
- as it has fascinated other reporters. Aristotle Onassis, Stavros Niarchos and magazine Naftiliaki. Parliament. "We have round tables, where everyone
Historic Savannah Foundation, their contemporaries are still revered in Pi- Some of the change of style in Greek One example of the new Greek tycoon is feels equal. We tried to make it as friendly
Savannah's original preservation raeus, base of the powerful Greek shipping shipowning is due to the crisis that hit the Thanasis Martinos, whose family founded as possible," Vordonis says. "In addition to
force, may be on the verge of changing industry. But today a new tycoon is succeed- industry from 1975 to 1987, stemming from Thenamaris. Hailed as the "Mozart of ship- achieving efficiency, you must have people
this perception. ing them: the young businessman who overbuilding of ships and competitive ping" for his precociousness, Martinos en- working in a high tone/'
HSF's recent sale of its tour division shuns publicity and knows computers as freight-rate cutting at a time of stagnating tered the business as a teen-ager when his In addition to keeping a lower profile at
established one thing - preservation is well as compasses. world trade. This bustling port near Athens mother and her brothers - a shippinglaw- the office, the new tycoons avoid publicity in,
just as much a business as is "Twenty years ago, a shipowner was is still haunted by memories of proud ship- yer and a sea captain - bought their first their private lives. Gone are the days when
developing skyscrapers. treated like a god," said Diamantis owners losing their vessels to creditors. ship. Niarchos and Onassis competed in the pub-
In an incredibly clever business Diamantides, who controls 25 ships. "Now Diamantides, 42, who began buying ships Martinos worked with the firm while lic eye, building ever-bigger yachts and pur-
transaction, HSF sold its daily tour he's a simple person." in 1975 after working in shipping offices, studying economics in London. Now 40, he chasing islands they turned into paradises
schedules and routes, but kept its The Greek shipping tradition is thou- says old-time magnates could get bank and his two brothers head Thenamaris, with imported trees and exotic birds.
name in the forefront by continuing the sands of years old, a product of the coun- loans on the strength of their names. which runs 55 ships itself and manages Onassis dominated gossip columns
training of tour guides. try's entrepreneurial talent and its kinship "Now you have to convince them with about 20 for other people. through his affair with opera singer Maria!
Further, the foundation made sure with the sea, which is within 50 miles of al- your figures," he said. Vordonis, the director of the firm, says Callas and later marriage to Jacqueline
it kept partial control of the profitable most any part of Greece. Business practices also have changed the older generation "had the risk ap- Kennedy, while Niarchos married, among
group tour business. With the The legend of the Greek tycoon began with the infusion of a different kind of ship- proach, the hard-work approach, the entre- others, Charlotte Ford, daughter of car-
foundation's national contacts to other earlier this century with the "sea wolves," owner - either entrepreneurs from indus- preneurial approach to bringing resources maker Henry Ford.
preservation groups, HSF still can sea captains who acquired fleets. It reached try or construction attracted by a potential together that were difficult to bring togeth- Today's shipowners keep elegant villas
invite them to the<city and host its personification in Niarchos and Onassis, fortune, or the children of traditional ship- er." with swimming pools in Athens' northern
elaborate tours and parties at a charge volatile, dynamic magnates with business owners, who have received advanced de- Now, he says, shipowners rely on high- suburbs and vacation getaways on the
that will boost HSF's coffers. savvy and a gambler's touch, whose lives grees in business or engineering at British speed information relayed by computers, Greek islands, as well as homes in London,
Not a bad piece of work; This and loves were chronicled on the front or American universities. tight cost control and a team approach. Switzerland or Monte Carlo.
transaction should once and for all rid pages of the world press. "The new generation of managers has a Where old-style magnates used to make Whether the new tycoons will achieve the
anyone of the romantic notion that Many of the newer managers have main- different investment approach," said Dimi- most decisions, sometimes screaming down success of their predecessors is still an open
preservationists don't know how to talk tained their predecessors' passion for the tri Krondiras, the local director of Citibank, cowering subordinates, the modern entre- question.
business. sea and their strong preference for family- the major lender for Greek ship purchases. preneurs are trying to attract and rely on Many firms are still run by the older gen-
As a matter of fact, HSF has been run firms. But they are increasingly making "This new generation perceives that invest- technical experts to keep up with a fast- eration, with their sons or daughters wait-
talking with Savannah's business longer-term investments, imposing modern ment in shipping is high-risk." . moving, efficient, more high-tech field. ing in the wings to test newer (business strat-
community - a welcome change from business practices and buying newer, high- Because of that gamble, some shipown- "In order to achieve, you need technol- egies. • "*"
this perception of preservationists and tech ships. ers have diversified into oil, banking or ho- ogy, modern management techniques," And while the younger managers may
businessmen going at one another's "We're tending toward structured com- tel chains. Others are trying to cater more Vordonis says. "You go into how to manage have more sophisticated economic ap-
throats. panies in corporate form as opposed to per- to the changing market, purchasing newer, people." proaches, shipowning is still highly risky
An increasingly concerted effort by sonality-driven, Onassis-type companies," more customized ships, A glance at the Thenamaris offices illus- and dependent on many outside factors,
members of the Historic Savannah said Emmanuel A. Vordonis, director of A few shipowners are even beginning to trates the change. Unlike the traditional such as wars and the price of oil.
Foundation to try to understand the Thenamaris Ships Management Inc. raise money by opening their companies to rough-and-tumble offices tucked along the Anastassopoulos says the new shipping
goals and needs of the business Until recently, Greeks owned the world's outside investment and floating shares on Piraeus waterfront, Thenamaris is a gleam- executives go to the best schools and are
community has led Savannah's first largest merchant fleet. The Japanese are the stock market -previously "a kind of ing, glass-and-concrete ring in a lush better prepared than their predecessors.
preservation organization on a new now No. 1 but Greece is close behind, with heresy in Greek shipowning," says George coastal suburb. Sunlight pours into an airy But, he adds, "Whether they will be as intel-
course emphasizing that preservation 82 million tons of cargo-carrying capacity, Anastassopoulos, the former head of the core; water trickles through leafy plants in ligent and adventurous as their fathers re-
can't survive on its own merits. according to the authoritative shipping Transport Commission in the European a central atrium. mains to be seen."
"Preservation and economic
development have to go hand in hand,"
said Stephanie D. Churchill, executive
director of the HSF, during a recent
interview. "It's clear we need
development in the city."
HSF, founded in 1955, has reached
the crossroads, at which a perception
as anti-development, hard-core
preservationists may evolve into a role
Of Korean Conglomerate
as a facilitator that will work with the
city's business interests in enhancing a
historic district with compatible
development to create a new dynamic
Writes Book on Work
By KELLY TUNNEY
In the foundation's recently The Associated Press 'Nothing comes free in this
published annual report, Ms. Churchill SEOUL, South Korea - The national life and nothing is accidental.
tells members that "we must learn
about, or devise, the new tools for
best seller is written by the founder of one of The more you dig, the deeper
South Korea's largest conglomerates, an un- the hole. And the deeper the
preservation." abashed workaholic who says he shaves and
"Clearly, the future of Savannah's eats breakfast in his car to save time. hole the more water from the
historic district is tied to providing Kim Woo-jung heads Daewoo Group,
opportunities for economic maker of products ranging from Leading
well. That's what it's all
development compatible with Edge computers to Pontiac LeMans exports about.'
preservation objectives," said Ms. to the U.§. market. Kim says he wrote the - Kim Woo-jung
Churchill in the report. book to tell young people how to find inspi-
The foundation already has ration and direction in life. Or as the sug- Entrepreneur
embarked on its mission to cooperate gested title for the English version suggests,
with Savannah's business community "Work!!!" last spring.
several months ago, it entered with In South Korea, one of the fastest grow- "My generation didn't eat well and
the Savannah Area Chamber of ing Asian countries, the drive to succeed couldn't dress well, but look at the Korea
Commerce an agreement to create and make money is a passion. Kim's posi- that we've built," he says, advising young
L'ptown Savannah, whose prime tion as head of a conglomerate with 1988 people not to become smug by the country's
objective will be to revitalize sales of $17.2 billion hasn't hurt his credibili- new consumerism and leisure time.
Broughton Street. ty as an author. "Days are too short for me," he writes.
"What we have in Uptown "Nothing comes free in this life and noth- "I wish they were 30 or 40 hours long. I
Savannah is a marrying of all ing is accidental," writes Kim, 53-year-old sometimes shave and wash with a towel in
interests." said David Young, who father of four. "The more you dig, the deep- the car on the way to work. I even occasion-
recently stepped out as the president of er the hole. And the deeper the hole the ally have breakfast in the car."
the Savannah Area Chamber of more water from the well. That's what it's He holds staff meetings before or after
Commerce. "A more coordinated all about." the regular workday and prides himself that
approach is a better one " More than 900,000 copies of "It's a Big at Daewoo, which means "Big House" in
HSF President Joseph A. Webster World and There's Lots to be Done" have Korean, a 9 to 5 workday can mean 5 a.m.
Jr called the cooperative effort been published since it came out last Au- until 9 p.m.
between his group and the Chamber gust. By this month the book was in its 89th "Wasting time is worse than wasting
most significant and the first time printing. money, for you can always make more mon-
the groups have worked together to South Korea's largest bookstore named it ey." says Kim. "When it comes to making
such a degree one of the five best sellers of the decade money. I'm an expert."
• I think there is a change. For Daewoo says it has even sold the rights to a As founder and chairman of Daewoo,
years, we tended to think of the professor in China for a Chinese version. Kim oversees 70 overseas offices and 93,000
foundation as the gurus of the Historic Although the book has been translated employees involved in trade, construction,
District, while the Chamber was into English, Daewoo is looking for a U.S. shipbuilding, the manufacture of cars, in-
thinking of promoting tourism in the publisher, and negotiations are under way dustrial robots, telecommunications, con-
historic district for publication in other countries sumer electronic products, textiles and
What has happened is that there is The 211-page paperback sells for 1450 home appliances WORKAHOLIC AUTHOR: Kim Woo-jung, chairman and founder of the South Ko-
a gradual awakening by everyone and features 39 essays with pithy fatherly The book skips over the ways Daewoo rean conglomerate Daewoo Group, autographs a copy of his best-seller for young
involved that you can't distinguish and advice on school, working women, choice of rose from a small textile exporter to the reader
separate these roles said Young jobs, relationships and making money world's 46th largest industrial company in
If there wasn't a feeling of His commentary is full of personal anec- 22 years, omitting mention of its ties to past He advises Korean women to stamp out says. "If everyone's an egoist, then there's
«*>r*>ration in fostering commercial > dotes ranging from his school life i "not ex- authoritarian governments, low wages, sex discrimination by considering a job pro- always going to be trouble."
development, then I am glad it is there emplary" i to religion i "better than not hav- easy bank credit and protectionist barriers fessionally, not "a bus stop on the way to He recommends forming close lifetime
now If t'ptown Savannah is coming ing one' ' to observations on why nations in that allowed Daewoo and other conglomer- marriage." friendships, a code followed closely among
across as t h a t , that's good said HSF southern Europe waste so much time nap- ates to grow- "You have to find places that people Korean businessmen who often judge each
^ ice president Walton K Nussbaum ping There s a frantic trend nowadays to have never been to and you have to do other by the schools they've attended.
*ho is leading the Uptown Savannah Kim says he doesn t exercise, takes no think only in terms of immediate profits." things that people haven't done before." he Although Kim exalts nonstop work, he
effort vacations, sleeps five hours a night and Kim writes "People are looking for comfort advises both sexes "Of course there's dan- encourages day-dreams "Dreams are like
spends the rest of the time working and and satisfaction rather than having a fight- ger in pioneering Pioneers take paths that the rudder of a ship setting sail. The rudder
• See HISTORIC, Page 80 making business deals He wrote the book ing spirit to overcome difficulties and suc- haven't been paved." may be small and unseen, but it controls the
nights while w a i t i n g out a shipyard strike ceed in the long run " "There is too much egocentncism." he ship's course."