Automotive giant Petros Petropoulos’ offering is broad. In its 94 year history, it has been involved in virtually every part of the supply chain, from design and manufacturing to imports and distribution. Chairman Costas Petropoulos explains that, in Greece, the automotive industry is also broad. “The word auto, which is Greek, means any machine that moves by itself — that is our definition of automotive,” he says. “We deal not only in cars, but also trucks, buses, agricultural tractors, materials handling equipment, forklift trucks, pickups, and also some associated things, for example lubricants, automotive batteries and generators.”
Costas joined the business in 1970 when he and his brother were asked to come back and rescue the family business, as it was facing bankruptcy.
Costas had saved a little over the years and poured all of his money into getting the business back in the black. “Together with fifteen colleagues from the old company, we rolled up our sleeves and with a lot of faith, optimism, and not much more, we began — so that was a big landmark, that was the re-birth.”
Another key date that changed the course of the business came in 1992. “We did 2 things which completely transformed the company,” Costas says. “The first one was we adopted EVA [!economic!] as a metric. EVA is unlike profit. It recognises not only your operating profit, but also how many assets you used in order to produce that profit. In one number you can see the whole picture: the P&L and the balance sheet together. The adoption of that metric, which took a long time to implement, created a new culture of total accountability where the managers are accountable for everything.