In memoriam: NICO J. COTZIAS OBE 1928 - 2009
· President and Chief Executive of ND Cotzias and later N. Cotzias Shipping Co Ltd, the oldest Shipbroking business in Greece founded in 1893
· Founder and President of the Hellenic Shipbrokers Association
· Co-founder and President of the Piraeus Marine Club
· President of FONASBA, the International Federation for Shipbrokers and Agents
· Assisted and encouraged Costas Grammenos in establishing a course at Masters level in the City University directly related to Shipping
· One of the founding partners of Armada Shipping (now known as the Clipper Group)
· The first non-shipowning member inducted into the Greek Shipping Hall of Fame
Nico J. Cotzias, apart from his successful family shipbroking business, is most often recalled as the founder and first President of the Hellenic Shipbrokers Association (HSA) and the co-founder and President of the Piraeus Marine Club (PMC). He worked tirelessly towards his dream to make Greek Shipping and the Port of Piraeus a global centre for Maritime Services, an ambition which has become reality today.
The Cotzias family was originally from the small island of Psara.
Later, they settled in Syros and it was there in 1893 that the first generation of the family opened a shipbroking office under the name of N. D. Cotzias.
In 1912 Nicholas D. Cotzias moved the firm to Piraeus.
Nico J. Cotzias was born in Piraeus and was educated in the US and the UK as well as Greece and joined the family shipbroking business after the Second World War. He worked continuously for the firm until his retirement in 2000.
In 1955 he married May Tambacopoulos, the daughter of one of Greece’s leading legal/judicial clans. They had three children – Sophie, Joanne and John – six grand-daughters and to date (2019) two great-grandsons.
By 1965, Cotzias had become President of N. D. Cotzias Shipping and was poised to embark on his most energetic and productive years.
· In 1968 together with a core group he co-founded the Piraeus Marine Club (PMC) which saw his dream of creating a centre for forums, meetings, educational workshops, and a number of cultural events along with a restaurant/venue where shipping men and women could meet up and exchange ideas on their charters, deals etc, all happening in his place of birth, his beloved Piraeus, but in the manner and design of the City of London. His legacy carries on even today, 50 years later, with the PMC remaining integral in the shipping community’s hearts.
His pathos for the success of this idea helped him remain the most vibrant personality in the club’s history.
· The same year that the PMC was founded N Cotzias opened their branch office in the City of London’s Eastcheap and for two decades the office was active in chartering, insurance and ship finance.
· In 1972 NJC along with his long time friend JG Goumas were founding partners of the Danish company Armada Shipping Aps., which is now known as the Clipper Group. They sold their shares in the 1980s.
· In 1975 Nico Cotzias was instrumental in establishing the Hellenic Shipbrokers Association. He was elected the HSA’s first President and was re-elected for three more terms, heading the association until 1981. He would have been very proud to see his son John N. Cotzias become the president of the HSA in 2013, a title/post he still holds.
The Cotzias firm had been known for its “professional but relationship driven” manner of doing business with clients as far back as its days in Syros. This tradition, together with his strong ties with London shipbrokers, made Cotzias an enthusiastic and trusted champion of the shipbrokers’ profession during its fledgling years in Greece. He was particularly keen that brokers should receive a proper education in the business and conform to an ethical code in their transactions.
He also became the President of FONASBA, the Federation of National Associations of Shipbrokers and Agents. In 1976 he became the first Greek board member of the Baltic and International Maritime Council (BIMCO), the world’s largest shipping association. He served as Vice-President from 1981 to 1985.
Cotzias was also an enthusiastic member of the British Hellenic Chamber of Commerce. His firm’s longstanding services as Admiralty Agents for the Royal Navy, together with his committed promotion of British-Greek relations, particularly in the field of shipping, earned Cotzias in 1994 an Order of the British Empire (OBE) from Queen Elisabeth II.
He was actively involved in numerous other shipping bodies, including the American Bureau of Shipping, Det Norske Veritas, the Union of Greek Shipowners, the Hellenic Chamber of Shipping and the Propeller Club.
Cotzias retired in 2000 and enjoyed his numerous hobbies and interests until he passed away in May 2009.
His legacy for Piraeus lives on and the home port continues to grow in importance just as he envisaged more than 50 years ago.