How succession in a family business affects its internationalisation


Name of the provider / Family business 


Professional sector and company size 

Manufacturing and industrial construction – The work-teams fluctuate in number depending on the company’s needs in human resources in the various projects it undertakes around the world. At the same time permanent support is provided by specialized external associates

Need/problems/challenge addressed 

Internationalisation and Succession – How succession in a family business affects its internationalisation




Internal resources of M.E.I.E. Lab 

Link to more information

STELMA is a group of companies active in the field of technical and construction projects, focusing on the corrosion protection of surfaces. It was founded in 1980 and is based in Thessaloniki.

The founder of the company (father) has been the main and sole shareholder since its foundation. When the company was transformed into an S.A., his first-born son also joined the board. Ownership and management of the company passes from the 1st to the 2nd generation. The founder (father) is still active. The management of the company was taken over by the two sons of the founder. The eldest son joined the company in 2005 and has since been actively involved in the company as Vice President. The second son joined the family business in 2016. The two successors are actively involved in decision-making and contribute to the organisational structure of the company.

From the beginning of the successors’ involvement in the business, the impact of their involvement in the use of governance mechanisms has been significant, with an increasing tendency towards professionalisation. Equally immediate was their impact on organisational restructuring, staff renewal, decentralisation of decision-making and standardisation of operations. The extent to which new ideas were introduced by successors was also important, with the founder being rigid at first but eventually accepting much of the new ideas. The most important contribution of the younger generation was the diversification of the company’s strategy. The result of the new strategic decisions was to shift the business portfolio from that of the 1st generation and expand into foreign markets.

The company has been operating in the St Nazaire shipyard on the west coast of France since 2006 under a contract with the shipyard’s owner company STX EUROPE. Under this contract, the company has carried out sandblasting and painting work on many of the world’s largest cruise ships. In addition, the company has carried out rust protection work on LNG vessels owned by the French state gas company Gaz de France in collaboration with the French multinational ALSTOM MARINES. The company successfully completed the maintenance work assigned to it by the French group DCNS, which is responsible for the maintenance of the French war fleet. As part of the 19th campaign to paint the Eiffel Tower (every 7 years since its construction), STELMA was the first non-French company to carry out this challenging project from its inception to the present day.

In Poland, through its subsidiaries, the company is mainly active in the field of sandblasting painting of passenger and transport vehicles, with its know-how also being used in Ukraine and Russia. In addition, STELMA has subsidiaries in the UK (London), Bulgaria (Sofia) and Kuwait (Al Ahmadi), while the establishment of a subsidiary in Qatar is imminent. STELMA is recognised worldwide as one of the most specialised and reliable companies in the field of corrosion protection, while opening up development prospects outside Europe and the Middle East, as well as in transatlantic partnerships with countries such as Canada and the USA.