From his stronghold in Kilkis near Thessalonika, George Milonas is steering aluminum products manufacturer Alumil Milonas on a course of international expansion. A wise move, considering Greece's construction market is due for a hangover following a a pre-Olympic building binge. "It won't be a good year on the Greek market," says the 45-year-old chairman and CEO. "But southeastern Europe is very good, and that will help us."
Formed in 1988 by the Milonases, a Greek family with roots in industry, the aluminum conglomerate now boasts subsidiaries in 45 countries. Sales have more than doubled since 1999, to €135 million in 2003, bolstered by public contracts for projects related to the Athens Olympics. Milonas wants to boost sales 20% more this year.
To meet that goal, Alumil is looking east. The company, which is 70% owned by the Milonas clan, spent €1.5 million this year to buy an aluminium extrusion plant in Bosnia and is building factories in Serbia, Romania, Bulgaria, and Egypt.
But expansion is squeezing profits. Milonas, an avid jazz fan and skier, acknowledges that 2004 earnings before interest, tax, depreciation, and amortization will likely remain at last year's level of €33.1 million. Competition is increasing, and Alumil must pare costs and improve efficiency to stay ahead. The strong euro could also dent results. "If the euro goes above $1.30 it would be a problem for us," says Milonas. But like his favorite metal, Milonas' company should remain light but strong.