a living history
The Caramondani Group is a robust organisation with multi-faceted activities. This is neither a stroke of luck nor opportunist. It carries a history of over six decades, set off almost in parallel with the modern history of our country, when Cyprus gained its independence in 1960. A course over time based on knowledge, perception, industriousness, responsibility, consistency, innovation and a close personal relationship with the Group’s employees.
One company, a living history
Over 60 years of innovation and knowhow. It all began in Famagusta, October 1959. The Caramondani Group is a robust organisation with multi-faceted activities. This is neither a stroke of luck nor opportunist.
It carries a history of over six decades, set off almost in parallel with the modern history of our country, when Cyprus gained its independence in 1960.
A course over time based on knowledge, perception, industriousness, responsibility, consistency, innovation and a close personal relationship with the Group’s employees.
‘Be leaders in a constantly technologically developing world, providing high quality products and services that will contribute to improving quality of life and the environment’, said Gerasimos Caramondanis, out of the two founders of the Group, the other being his brother Stavros Caramondanis.
The first step
The Group was launched in Famagusta in June 1959. Stavros and Gerasimos Caramondanis registered a Limited Partnership under the name Caramondani Bros Limited Partnership, with a registry number of P.2027.
Stavros, with a degree in electrical engineering from Edinburgh University and Gerasimos, a Business Administration graduate from Beirut American University, began to build their reputation and their Group.
They house their early business dreams in a traditional Famagusta building that belonged to their mother, down Ermou Street. The upper floor was taken up by apartments, while the ground floor houses a series of shops. One of them was transformed by Stavros and Gerasimos Caramondani into an electrical and mechanical repairs workshop.
The story behind the ‘front’
Two very interesting stories embellish these early steps, essentially revealing why Caramondani Bros is going through the 7th decade of its life today, as a group with the longest uninterrupted history in Cyprus.
Stavros and Gerasimos were born into the Gerasimos and Eirini Caramondani family. Stavros was the eldest. Gerasimos, who never knew his father, was the youngest. The father died three months before Gerasimos was born and that’s why he was baptised with his father’s name.
Their mother, Eirini Caramondani was born into the Georgiou family and her father served as mayor of Famagusta for a number of terms. She was an intelligent, well educated woman, who spoke fluent English and French.
Eirini wanted Stavros to become a doctor. So luggage in hand, her son travelled to England and began his medicine studies at Huddersfield. Right from the outset, his first year, Stavros realised that he would not be ending up with a brilliant career as a doctor, medicine was simply not his element.
On a visit to the Scottish capital to see a cousin who was graduating from Edinburgh University, he got acquainted with the head of the Electrical Engineering department, who became fascinated with the young man’s knowledge and multidimensional thinking. Stavros shows much enthusiasm and arranges to transfer from Huddersfield to Edinburgh, where he graduates with a degree in Electrical Engineering.
Degree in hand, he returns to Cyprus in the mid 50s, his mother still unaware that he had changed fields of study. It was only then that she found out about the switch, believing up to that point, that he had been studying medicine.
Gerasimos also had an eventful life. Gerasimos Caramondanis-Jerry to his friends, joins EOKA early on-he is sworn in as a member of the organisation at 17, but is soon arrested by the British and transferred to the Kyrenia castle prisons. He will never forget those days, as he later recalls.
Back in Famagusta, his mother Eirini works towards getting her son released and finally succeeds, but under one British condition: Gerasimos must leave Cyprus. The prospect of studying abroad proved to be his passport to freedom. His acceptance by the American University in Beirut was vital in persuading the British that he would indeed be leaving Cyprus. He ended up in the Lebanese capital, a four year study course at the city’s American University.
Perception, opportunities, growth
Following independence, the two Caramondani brothers, perceptive and savvy, realised the prospects in Famagusta, but also Cyprus as a whole. It was the spark that forged Caramondani Bros.
They set up a contracting firm that would mainly be dealing in electromechanical work. The two partner brothers defined clearly separate roles from the outset. Stavros had no desire to go into management or engage in other business activities beyond his field, electrical and mechanical engineering, so Gerasimos took over administration and trading, relative to his own studies.
They set up their headquarters in Famagusta-it was a fast growing city, the tourist, commercial, financial and cultural centre of Cyprus at the time. Famagusta attracted the most important investments in tourism, commerce and industry.
From the early 1960s right through to 1974, the Caramondani Bros took on a great number of electromechanical projects in Famagusta.
The first steps succeed and the company secures a number of contracts, such as the Fellas clinic, the King George hotel and many other works, recording a number of firsts.
In 1961, they built the first solar panel in Cyprus and all the designs and data were stored in the company’s complex in the old part of Famagusta.
The first blow makes them stronger
Just four years following the establishment of the company in 1963, bicommunal strife sees the loss of a major part of the company’s assets, including the warehouses in the old city. This was the first major blow for Caramondani Bros, but it only hardened their resolve. Through sheer hard work and the good reputation that they built, the two brothers move on.
In 1967 they establish Caramondani Plastics, which made various electronic parts as well as plastics for the catering industry.
In 1968, the company completes the central air conditioning installations for Grecian Hotel, the first modern hotel in Cyprus. It was yet another innovation, introducing central air conditioning systems in the fast developing hotel industry market.
In 1973, foreseeing the country’s future needs for potable water through desalinations, Caramondani Bros Ltd took part in the first tender for the desalination of Mesaoria’s salty water. It was the only Cypriot company participating.
1974, the refugee road and a restart
Everything is lost in the Turkish invasion: company offices, machinery, records, property and its biggest contract at the time, the engineering installations of the Vipers Ehidnes) island in Kyrenia, to the tune of 400 thousand pounds.
Stavros and Gerasimos were determined-the tragedy strengthened their resolve. Following an invitation broadcast on radio, personnel and owners met on August 28 1974 at the Sun Hall hotel in Larnaca to discuss the company’s regeneration.
They briefed personnel that their top priority was for the company to reactive financially through a British Bases contract, the only one still in force. ‘That deal saved us’, Gerasimos would later confess.
The employees agreed to start working again, with the income from projects to be shared equally between all. Everyone, including the owners, received around eight to ten pounds a week, until the company got back on its feet.
A new course
The August 1974 meeting in Larnaca proved decisive. It set the foundation for Caramondani Bros to make a new start on a refugee road. It took on projects all over Cyprus and resumed its upward trend.
In 1978, Caramondani Bros established TEU Conservices Ltd, along with the Comarine Ltd and Ieropoulos and Co Ltd, with a 50-50% share capital. That same year, it turns into a Limited Company, under the title Caramondani Bros Ltd.
The relationship between the Caramondani Bros owners with their personnel had always been one of trust, mutual respect and most of all, humanity.
Stavros and Gerasimos always tried to be fair and work on solid and viable projects, opening up jobs for as many people as possible. ‘We move forward together, not each to its own’, had always been their philosophy.
Based on this framework, the Caramondani brothers gifted 27% of their shares to company members.
In 1988, Caramondani Bros Ltd acquires 100% of the TEU Conservices Ltd share capital, thus strengthening its presence in the field of container inspection, maintenance, repair and leasing at Limassol port.
In 1991, Caramondani Desalination Plants Ltd is established and five years later it takes over the construction and operation of the first reverse osmosis desalination unit in Dhekelia, the first self-financed work in Cyprus.
1993 sees the founding of C.N.C.P. Boat & Car Parks Ltd, through which the Group successfully delves in the marinas and parking places sectors, while in 1994, Caramondani Electromotion is established as the business unit of Caramondani Bros Ltd.
Caramondani Spiral Ducts Industry Ltd is founded in 1986, dealing in the construction of round air conditioning vents and parts.
In 1999, Caramondani Bros Ltd was listed on the Cyprus Stock Exchange (CSE) where its stocks are negotiated under Caramondani Bros Public Co Ltd. In 2008, following a public offer, C.B. Holdings Ltd acquired Caramondani Bros Public Co Ltd and is shares stop being negotiated at CSE.
In 1999 Caramondani Bros begins its foreign expansion, establishing a branch in Greece, Caramondani Hellas.
In 2001, Caramondani Desalination Plants Ltd acquires Italian company Osmo Sistemi Srl, launching an international presence in the desalination sector.
Along with the parent company, Osmo Sistemi participates in international tenders for the provision, installation and operation of water processing units in many countries.
In 2007, Caramondani Bros Public Co Ltd sets up an office in Ningbo, China.
New major steps
The rise continues and so do major projects.
In 2007, Caramondani Desalination Plants Ltd sign a new 20 year contract with the Republic of Cyprus Water Development Board on a desalination unit producing potable water daily. It redesigns and rebuilds the Dhekelia desalination plant.
In 2012, M.M.Makronisos Marina Ltd is established. Following an international tender, in 2010, the company signs a contract with the Republic of Cyprus to develop the Ayia Napa marina, the cost of which is expected to reach 300 million euro. Construction began in 2016.
In 2013, utilising current growth in the natural gas sector in Cyprus, the Caramondani Group collaborated with Malta’s Medserv Group, also participating in Medserv Cyprus Ltd on operating a service base at Larnaca port for offshore drillings.
In 2018, in collaboration with the largest marina construction company in the world, American Bellingham Marine Industries, Caramondani Bellingham Ltd is established, taking over the construction and installation of the floating jetties at Ayia Napa Marina.
In 2019, Caramondani Desalination Plants Ltd signed a 25 year contract with the Republic of Cyprus on the construction and operation of the Paphos desalination unit.
Stavros and Gerasimos were different, both as characters and as business approach personalities. But this did not stop the brothers from working successfully together for a number of decades. Both their employees and associates said that one complimented the other, forging the ideal combination.
Gerasimos, as they all recall, represented a strong business acumen, perception and creativity.
Stavros was the organiser, the scientific mind, the person who turned plans into reality. He was one of the first electrical engineering graduates in Cyprus.
The secret of his success was love of creativity, not money.
His death at 83, on January 16 2012, marked the end of a multifaceted productive life.
Rebuilding of Vasilikos Power Station
Amongst the greatest challenges that Caramondani Bros tackled successfully was the reconstruction of the Vasilikos Power Plant following the Mari explosion on July 11th 2011 and the destruction of the EAC station.
Caramondani Bros had a major contribution in rebuilding the station, as it already had a presence in the unit for a number of years. From 2003 to 2005 it took over the construction of electricity production unit No.3 and just prior to the explosion it had completed a routine upgrading work. On July 11, 2011, the company was involved in projects on units 1 and 2.
CEO Costas Charalambous is at the helm of Caramondani Bros today. The Group is run by Gerasimos Caramondanis children: Stavros Caramondanis as the CEO, Erina Caramondani being deputy CEO and Constandinos Caramondanis as an executive member. They are pictured here with their father, Gerasimos Caramondanis.
Group of 14 companies
The Group is made up of 14 companies active in Cyprus, Greece, Italy, Morocco and China. It employs 400 people, both mechanics, technicians and administrative staff and has developed major local and international collaborations in the fields of its expertise.
For more than 60 years, innovation, knowhow, products and high quality services have defined the Caramondanis Group and its values. The Group continues to invest in these values, keeping to its long standing promise;
‘You can depend on us’.
A name synonymous with innovation
At the present stage, investments involve opportunities opened up by the Group in the past few years.
The most significant moment came in August 1974, when the owners and some of the employees decided to reactivate Caramondani.
The Caramondani group has turned 61. It was established in Famagusta. Six plus decades packed with innovation, perception, tough times and highly interesting moments. The 2nd generation is now at the helm. Erina Caramondani, deputy CEO spoke to us about the history of its group, past, present and future.
A big name
What’s it like leading a group with such a long history and prestigious name?
It’s a massive heritage. I can say that the responsibility to the other members of the family and the Group’s employees is huge. We are living daily with this responsibility of continuity, handing over to the next leaders what we inherited from the founders. It’s a tough but also a fine challenge.
What’s the group’s DNA through its history?
Respect to the associate-eithera client, a colleague, an employee, partner or supplier. Respect is everything. You are obliged to respect the person you’re working with. In addition, having a work ethic, being conscientious, have no fear and forge ahead. That is part and parcel of our DNA.
Respect to personnel
Relationships of owners with employees had always been very close. How do you continue this tradition, with the Group having grown so much?
Stavros and Gerasimos taught everyone, including their children, as well as people leading the Group today, to always be approachable and see employees as associates. The Group’s founders were not people ‘sitting up high’, behind closed doors, alienated from everyone. They used to travel with their Vespa all around Famagusta to the construction site and warehouses, talking to all employees. They knew all the employees and that’s what we try to do. We don’t have the Vespa today, but my brother Stavros did try and continue the tradition for a while!
Stavros and Gerasimos always said that employees are the soul of the company. As the next generation, active members of the group, we know how important team work is and without our people, we can’t get far. So we try to be as approachable, close to them, not raise the walls that sometimes owners or managers do. It’s not as easy as when the company was small, but we try and achieve that to the best degree possible.
The Vespa and bombarded Famagusta
The Vespa was part of the family life’s, more so in Famagusta…
The children of the Caramondani brothers grew with a Vespa in their lives! Stavros had a red one and Jerry a blue one. Our father would sit us on a Vespa, Stavros in the front, as he was younger, he was in the middle and me in the back. On Saturday, particularly in Famagusta, he would tell us, ‘let’s go for half an hour I have an errand to run’. He would take us to the construction sites, the warehouses or to see how work was going at the Caramondani Plastics factory under construction on Salaminos road. I remember having spent endless hours at the Golden Sands hotel construction site in Varosha!
On the same Vespa-a devastating event that has nothing to do with the company, but with Gerasimos’ character and how close to his heart Famagusta was, is the fact that following the ceasefire from the Famagusta bombardment in 1974, he put us both on the Vespa, Stavros was four, going on five and I was almost ten and we went around the city. He photographed all the collapsed buildings. One incident that was really traumatic for me was at the Salamina hotel. It had just been bombarded and there was a huge crater outside the half-collapsed building. My childhood innocence was over that day, fell to pieces. It has all stayed with me strongly. The Vespa continued to be in Stavros and Jerry for a number of years after the invasion.
The restart following the invasion
Which do you consider the most important moment of the Group?
Tough question-as we had several landmarks that defined our historical course. But I would say that the most important one was right after the invasion, August 1974. In their effort to rebuild the company, Stavros and Gerasimos, issued a call through state radio, to their employees, to meet at the Sun Hall hotel in Larnaca. There they briefed them that their top priority was for the country to get back on its feet and they would re-activate the company with the one contract still intact, the British Bases one. The people that responded to the call decided to start work immediately along with the two brothers. They agreed to share income equally. This agreement actually saved the company, because if this people, master Kokos, Nikos, did not show up on that day or refused to work because the salary was low, it’s possible that the company would not chart such a successful course. So that was the most defining moment in our history.
Vision and optimism
What did your father and uncle tell you was the heritage of the group when you took over or started working there?
They always told us to have vision and optimism looking forward. Be patient and work hard. Respect our personnel and associates. Be brave into making moves, not be afraid of mistakes and be aware of what’s happening around us.
A powerful woman, a special personality-what impact did she have on you?
She was special. I am impressed that you mention it, its obviously come out of the company’s anniversary book narrations. Irene Georghiou, Caramondani after she married into the family, was a power woman. Perhaps it was because she lost her husband very young and had to raise two boys by herself. Circumstances showed her spirit. She felt responsible about raising the two boys with the right principles.
She was highly educated and from a good Famagusta family-her father was one of the biggest merchants of his time and served as mayor of the city for a number of decades. With the help of her family, and particularly her brother in law, her sister Nina’s husband Yiannis Christofides, managed to raise and educate the two children, provide them with the guidance that they should have had to chart their own successful course.
Did Ιrene happen to discuss with you the story of Stavros that set off to study in England as a doctor and returned an electrical engineer?
Granny, ‘Steta’, as we used to call her, did not care to discuss things she did not wish to remember or did not like! But the story of Stavros is well known, as also the one that she didn’t want Stavros to marry a ‘foreigner’.
27% to employees
Employees have said that your relations with employees is not just the classic employer type?
Always based on the anthropocentric idea of management that the founders forged, we strive to be the wider family of our employees, be aware of their contribution and stand by them in whatever they might need. A few examples was what I mentioned before when the company resumed operations following the invasion and the two brother shared the income with their employees, as well as 1982, when the Caramondani brothers donated 27% of their shares to the company’s members as a token of appreciation. But beyond that, the company always tries to support its employees in whatever they need.
The Ayia Napa Marina
I believe that the group’s most important work as the Ayia Napa Marina, strengthening the country’s economy. How did Caramondani get involved in a work that’s out of its spectrum of activity?
Being from Famagusta, my father always loved the sea. He set sail with two broomsticks and a sheet that he took from his mother. He later bought two long speedboats and three sailboats. One of them become a temporary home for two years following the invasion. The natural marinas of Famagusta and his love of the sea made him envision modern marinas in Cyprus.
He was a perceptive man and so from the late 90s he undertook a number of efforts to make this idea a reality. He had contacted a number of architectural offices abroad that could design such a work. He had initially thought that we should take part in the Larnaca marina tender, but that fell through so we went for the Ayia Napa Marina. We founded M.M. Makronisos Marina Ltd, which signed the relevant contract with the Republic of Cyprus to build and operate the Ayia Napa Marina.
How do you comment on the passport scandal and all the talk about the Marina being part of it?
We do not shy away from commenting, besides we have issued a press released. Firstly, we don’t issue passports, therefore the Marina is not being looked into per se but what’s been examined is whether the relevant state authorities and ministries followed due process. But it’s a shame to create such issues for cases of major investors. We need to be careful not to implicate serious investment into political expediencies, so we won’t drive away people who have trusted our country, brought their millions here, creating growth and jobs.
The post pandemic period
Before the 2013 crisis was over, the pandemic hit us. What’s your take on the situation?
Yes, we are going through tough times for a number of reasons that came along during the same time; the pandemic, the passport scandal and the deadlock in the Cyprus issue. But the wheel does turn and if we make the right moves as a state, I am optimistic that we will bounce back quickly.
In the near future for example, we should better handle the pandemic and tourism so that the country opens up safely and foreign visitors return soon. In the long term, we should aim at attracting quality tourism. That would bring in new investment that will restart the economy.
The government should introduce new, reliable investment programmes to attract capital and investments that would contribute in the long term.
And we should not forget to utilise our country’s advantages. Cyprus has a great legal system, offering high quality services and it would be smart to consider how to build on this. We also have a good taxation system and a tax coefficient that is attractive to companies. We should promote all this.
What is the Caramondani next move?
Companies are always looking for new opportunities-besides we are innovators, having achieved many firsts in these six plus decades from the group’s establishment. Presently we are investing in companies we have established over the past few years, activities that form our core business.
We are continuing to invest in desalination. Beyond Dhekeleia, we have taken over the Paphos desalination for the next 25 years and we are set to produce water very soon. So desalination is in both our present and future. It’s a major mechanological work and we are one of the biggest companies in this field. In addition, we are moving on with the Ayia Napa investment and the work there, such as the electrical and mechanical installations. We recently launched the construction of floating piers for marinas in Cyprus in cooperation with American company Bellingham Marine. We’ve constructed the Ayia Napa Marina floating piers and we hope to do the same for other marinas in the future.
Is it true that Stavros and Gerasimos were opposite personalities?
Indeed, but they complimented each other.
Gerasimos was the tough call businessman, the merchant, the perceptive man that saw decades ahead of his time for future opportunities-such as Cyprus’ need for potable water. He went into desalination in 1973, decades before the first desalination unit was built in 1997.
Stavros was the mechanical engineer, the man with the technical knowledge, the perfectionist, a man of action. But their common traits were honest, respect and a work ethic-qualities that earned the trust of their associates.
- On June 24th, under British rule, the Stavros and Gerasimos Caramondanis is registered under the name Caramondani Bros Limited Partnership, register no P.2027
- In December, the partnership along with nine others, establish the electrical goods company O Promithefs Ltd, that becomes H.E. Promithefs Ltd in 1968.
- Unlimited Partnership established
- The first solar panel constructed in Cyprus and its design stored in the company’s warehouse in Famagusta.
- The company loses a major part of its assets following bicommunal clashes
- Stavros and Gerasimos Caramondani establish Caramondani Plastics Ltd
- Caramondani Bros Ltd takes part in the first desalination tender in Mesaoria. It was the only Cypriot company to do so.
- July. The company loses everything in the Turkish invasion
- August. On the 28th, the owners and personnel meet in Larnaca and decide to reactivate the company
- A Limited Company named Caramondani Bros Ltd.
- The Caramondani brothers donate 27% of their shares to members of the company
- Caramondani Bros Ltd acquires το 100% of the TEU Conservices Ltd share capital
- Caramondani Desalination Plants Ltd is established.
- C.N.C.P.Boat&CarParks Ltd is established
- Caramondani Desalination Plants Ltd wins the first PFI – Private Finance Initiative) in Cyprus, for the construction and operation of the Dhekeleia desalination plant, under a 10 year contract, type B.O.O.T. (Build, Own, Operate, Transfer).
- Caramondani Bros Public Co Ltd expands internationally with the establishment of its branch in Greece, Caramondani Hellas.
- Caramondani Desalination Plants Ltd acquires Italian OsmoSistemiSrl and secures an international presence in the desalination field.
- Caramondani Desalination Plants Ltd signs a new 20 year B.O.O.T. contract for a 40.000 m³ desalination unit. It redesigns and rebuilds the Dhekeleia unit.
- Caramondani Bros Public Co Ltd opens an office in Ningbo, China.
- Following a public proposal, C.B. Holdings Ltd acquires Caramondani Bros Public Co Ltd and its shares are no longer negotiated at the CSE.
- M.M. Makronisos Marina Ltd is established. Following an international tender in 2010, the company wins the Ayia Napa Marina development contract, with the cost expected to reach 300 million.
- The Group’s new offices and installations inaugurated at Pera Chorio Nisou
- Ayia Napa Marina construction begins.
- In cooperation with the largest marina construction company in the world, American Bellingham Marine Industries, Caramondani Bellingham Ltd is established.
- Caramondani Desalination Plants Ltd signs a 25 year B.O.O.T. contract with the Water Development Board of the Republic of Cyprus for the construction and operation of the Paphos desalination unit, at 15.000 m³ daily.
- Caramondani Bros Ltd signs the biggest contract in its history, taking over the construction of electrical and mechanical installation of the Ayia Napa Marina construction 2nd phase, involving all the buildings.
Kronou 1, Pera Chorio Nisou
P.C. 2571 Nicosia, Cyprus
+357 25 22818140