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.