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Greek Building Materials Firm Vio.Me Relaunched as an Employee-Run Company

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Vio.Me is a brand new experiment to see whether a formerly bankrupt company can be re-opened and operated by its workers. The workers of Vio.Me haven’t been paid since mid 2011. The company used to be a building materials factory in Thessaloniki, Greece.

Recently, the company’s general assembly of workers voted to take over factory operations and perform work under democratic principles. Production was to begin February 12, 2013. Greece and the rest of the world anxiously wait to see whether the worker takeover of operations can succeed without the previous bureaucratic levels of management.

The workers have crafted a serious business plan reflecting research on non-toxic cleaning products for home use. The factory is slated to make building materials like plaster, tile adhesive, grouting, and mortar. The workers are seeking donations from the public and from interested parties outside Greece to help jump-start operations, which have been halted for two long years.

If they are wise, the workers will also seek help from retired professionals throughout Greece to help reformulate the business, e.g. doctors, lawyers, accountants, etc.

Due to the high cost of transportation, the company must stay local by selling within Greece and its surrounding trading partners. Neighboring countries that are potential trading partners include Albania, Macedonia, Bulgaria, and Turkey. Nearby islands within Greece that can also do business with the company include Crete, Rhodes, Milos, Samos, Delos, Mykonos and over 100 others.

Over the next months, the workers must develop viable distribution networks so that its products can be sold on the open market. This task might require partnering with affiliates to get the job done quickly and efficiently.

Vio.Me could supply larger conglomerates in Europe with building products made by its workers. The advantage of seeking conglomerate partners would be to develop a predictable source of demand for Vio.Me’s products.

Historically, textiles, metals, chemicals, and food processing have been the bread and butter of Greek industry. But the Greek economy has been in a tailspin since 2008 with current unemployment hovering at 25% or more.

Vio.Me needs to develop an accounting function internally to record revenues, the payment of bills, inventorying, fixed assets, supplies, payroll, and other accounting functions. In addition, a formal chart of accounts must be put into place to record transactions uniformly. Periodic audits are another important control to protect the assets of the business from expropriation. Security is a huge area, covering the physical plant, corporate data, and offsite records.

In addition, a board of directors should be appointed to oversee business operations. The Greek government could facilitate the success of this enterprise by waiving unnecessary regulations so that Vio.Me can commence operations as soon as possible.

Successful employee-owned companies include PCL Construction Industries, ATA Engineering, Granite Construction, Chroma Technology, Medtronic, Hypertherm Plasma Cutting Systems, the Railroad Associates Corp, and Biomarc amongst many others. Israel’s kibbutzim may also be a model for Vio.Me. There, workplace, residence, medical, and recreational facilities are all centralized under the umbrella of a single community with a high degree of cohesiveness and interdependence of the workforce members.

Early on, Vio.Me could set up work teams with facilitators to manage its people and workflow. Once predictable revenue streams are put into place, Vio.Me can begin a more aggressive push to put into place operating protocols so that operations can run smoothly over time. For now, production has commenced.

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About Dr Joseph S Maresca

I've taught approx. 34 sections of collegiate courses including computer applications, college algebra, collegiate statistics, law, accounting, finance and economics. The experience includes service as a Board Director on the CPA Journal and Editor of the CPA Candidates Inc. Newsletter. In college, I worked as a statistics lab assistant. Manhattan College awarded a BS in an allied area of operations research. The program included courses in calculus, ordinary differential equations, probability, statistical inference, linear algebra , the more advanced operations research, price analysis and econometrics. Membership in the Delta Mu Delta National Honor Society was granted together with the degree. My experience includes both private account and industry. In addition, I've worked extensively in the Examinations Division of the AICPA from time to time. Recently, I passed the Engineering in Training Exam which consisted of 9 hours of examination in chemistry, physics, calculus, differential equations, linear algebra, probability/ statistics, fluids, electronics, materials science/structure of matter, mechanics, statics, thermodynamics, computer science, dynamics and a host of minor subject areas like engineering economics. A very small percentage of engineers actually take and pass the EIT exam. The number has hovered at circa 5%. Several decades ago, I passed the CPA examination and obtained another license in Computer Information Systems Auditing. A CISA must have knowledge in the areas of data center review, systems applications, the operating system of the computer, disaster recovery, contingency planning, developmental systems, the standards which govern facility reviews and a host of other areas. An MBA in Accounting with an Advanced Professional Certificate in Computer Applications/ Information Systems , an Advanced Professional Certificate in Finance and an Advanced Professional Certificate in Organizational Design were earned at New York University-Graduate School of Business (Stern ). In December of 2005, an earned PhD in Accounting was granted by the Ross College. The program entrance requires a previous Masters Degree for admittance together with a host of other criteria. The REGISTRAR of Ross College contact is: Tel . US 202-318-4454 FAX [records for Dr. Joseph S. Maresca Box 646 Bronxville NY 10708-3602] The clinical experience included the teaching of approximately 34 sections of college accounting, economics, statistics, college algebra, law, thesis project coursework and the professional grading of approx. 50,000 CPA examination essays with the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants. Additionally, membership is held in the Sigma Beta Delta International Honor Society chartered in 1994. Significant writings include over 10 copyrights in the name of the author (Joseph S. Maresca) and a patent in the earthquake sciences.