Behind the ECM Award…

Stavros Lalizas, winner of the 2018 ECM Lifetime Achievement Award

The ECM Lifetime Achievement Award is one of the most eagerly awaited awards at the prestigious Awards ceremony at Seawork. The recipient is a closely guarded secret until the moment the citation is read out.

In 2018 the award went to Stavros Lalizas, Chief Executive Officer of Lalizas, the multinational, life-saving equipment company based in Greece. The award was given to recognise Mr Lalizas’s outstanding vision towards the growth of the brand over his long career in the industry.

The business started as a small, local company located next to the Port of Piraeus. It has grown into a worldwide organisation with a commercial presence in more than 129 countries.

We caught up with Stavros to find out about the man, and the company, behind the award…

How did you feel about winning the Lifetime Achievement Award?

It was a great surprise. Of course, when you win such an award it’s a great feeling, but most importantly this award is honouring all my colleagues, customers, partners throughout my career who helped me propel LALIZAS to its current position. This award is a proof of going through all the great things that I have achieved with my colleagues and, also a kind reminder of how many great things we will achieve in the future.

For those who might not know, what does your company do?

Our company is a manufacturer of life saving equipment, thus our motto is “LALIZAS Simply Life Saving”. For the past thirty-six years we have been heavily investing in upgrading our services and expanding our product portfolio, all focused on providing our customers with the best possible solutions, services and products. Our products include lifejackets, life rafts and breathing devices. Our highly skilled technicians and global network of service points have enabled LALIZAS products to have a broad reach across the world.

What have been the biggest challenges in your career?

Well, in thirty-six years I have to say there have been many, but the ones that defined the organisation and me personally are the ones that we have overcome, allowing me and the company to evolve. The first was back in 2000 when our factory was burnt to the ground. It was then when I took the decision to rebuild the company and reinvent its core. The other one was in 2012 when our company proceeded for the first time with major acquisitions of other companies. Turning around companies, merging cultures and creating synergies was a challenge to say the least. Most importantly, these challenges have shaped the DNA of the company, of which we are most proud.

What have been the highlights?

It’s been a journey of many highlights and I would say the fact that our company has evolved into a global player for the marine industry is one. But I believe the most important one is the loyalty that I receive from the people I call colleagues and the loyalty that I give them back.

Have you always worked in the marine industry?

I would say that I have always done things that have to do with the sea. Even when I was not manufacturing marine safety products I was a Finn sailor and at the same time I was coaching younger children in the sport of sailing. In fact, that was how it all started. I needed a more efficient life jacket, so I manufactured it myself and one thing led to another.

Where do you get your inspiration from?

By nature, I am restless and bound to compete; consequently, from the very first life jacket that I sewed until now, my inspiration and what drives me every day is not the profit of the business, it is the profit of the learning processes, the profit of developing personally through my business, facing challenges and overcoming them. Ultimately, I am in love with sailing and my greatest inspiration is the journey, starting thirty-six years ago and the fact that I still have many “worlds” to discover.

What gets you through a bad day?

Management is like the sea, unpredictable. You are bound to face bad days but, as we say after a storm, the sky clears and vice versa. When you get into the office a manager should expect his day to be just like an elevator, up and down all the time. It is only logical when you need to face the daily challenges, meet different people, take decisions etc, but at the end of the day we have all worked towards a common goal, to meet our goals, and that is what it is all about.

What’s next for you…

A lot of work. Our company has finalised two major acquisitions, Alexander Ryan and Antipiros. Both companies are involved in safety, lifeboats, oil rigs, servicing etc. We are in the process of merging the daily operations and the day to day business, so my focus is currently 100% on that. And of course, something that I have added to my “to do” list is a little bit more sailing!

Do you have a mentor/hero in or outside the Industry?

Many. If we consider what a mentor does, shares knowledge and life experiences, then you have a great pool of mentors out there that they can enable you without even knowing it. It can be as simple as a movie, watching for example “The Social Network” or going to an event with key speakers that have made a great impact in the business world or society or both. At the end of the day it’s how you receive that input. If you are willing to learn and receive knowledge rather than criticize then you only gain.

Finally, what’s next for your company?

The company has a lot of things in the pipeline, products and services that we are preparing. At the same time, we want to maintain and elevate our standards in the market. These are exciting times to be part of our organization.

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