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Succeeding With Determination | Nikos Kontoyannis

Nikos Kontoyannis


In today’s time, leaders need to learn to adapt to changes because the world is constantly evolving, and businesses must keep up with the pace of change to remain competitive. Adaptable leaders can anticipate shifts in the market and adjust their strategies accordingly, which can help their organizations stay ahead of the curve. As the son of an Air Force officer constantly on the move, Nikos Kontoyannis, CEO of Apella S.A., was exposed to change often and learned to reset and adapt quickly. Nikos had to learn how to truly connect with people quickly and make the most of any new situation he faced to be able to function and perform. 

Moreover, adaptability helped him become a trustworthy and respectable leader, ready to embrace change and set a powerful example for his employees. In addition, being adaptable helped Nikos to make better decisions. As the business landscape changes, leaders must be able to think creatively and come up with new solutions to problems. By being adaptable, Nikos became a revolutionary leader at the forefront of acquiring new skills and knowledge that have helped him make informed decisions.

Owing to Nikos’s quality of being adaptable, he has been a constant in an ever-changing world. By continuously learning and growing, he keeps up with new trends and technologies, ensuring that the organization remains competitive, making him open-minded and inclusive, with great communication skills. Nikos connects with every employee in his organization. He is truthful, honest, and inspires everyone around him.

It took 7 years (maybe there is something to be said about that number!) for Nikos to culminate into a revolutionary leader. “I found the biggest challenge was to convince those that were closest to you that a change was necessary. That is the nature of a family business,” he says. “My advice is to stay the course and be honest with yourself and in your beliefs and the light at the end of the tunnel will show.”

According to Nikos, today APELLA has grown to the degree where it can offer its employees a good range of assignments to keep them inspired and involved in their development plans. “There are 2 main ingredients a company needs for keeping everyone focused. Firstly, a good company growth plan that shows everyone that the company is on solid ground to provide job security,” he explains. “Secondly, a fair and objective employee assessment cycle that provides a vehicle of feedback exchange that illuminates to every employee the path for growth and development that also leads to job security.”

Building A Great Company

APELLA is a privately owned aviation Maintenance Repair & Overhaul (MRO) organization experiencing continual growth since its inception in 1998. The company is an agile organization with a diverse management team and a workforce averaging more than 20 years of hands-on experience in the aviation industry. Located less than 3 miles from the Athens International Airport, APELLA operates from its 2,000 sqm facility and offers quality and efficient aircraft components and on-aircraft maintenance services. They currently support all domestic and multiple regional airliners to a maximum of 250 aircraft annually. The company’s strategic growth plan aims to widen the maintenance capabilities offered to become the maintenance solution provider of choice in SE Europe.

APELLA was born to offer component maintenance solutions such as wheels, brakes, batteries, and pressurized bottles and later offered on-aircraft specialized services such as NDT, structural repairs, welding, and painting. Today, APELLA, other than being an established EASA Part-145 certified MRO supporting flight operations of more than 100 aircraft year-round with component and on-aircraft maintenance, is one of Lockheed Martin’s approved vendors and supports:

  1. The F-16 modernization program of the Hellenic Air Force (HAF), which involves the gradual upgrade of its fleet to the F-16V variant,
  2. The ongoing global F-16 production efforts with dedicated structural technician teams and
  3. Military offset initiatives in Greece and abroad by offering specialized aviation maintenance expertise.

“Our growth over the past years can be attributed to the same factor that distinguishes us from others in the market: our culture,” elucidates Nikos. APELLA has managed to cultivate and maintain a family business culture, which makes it easier for employees to feel empowered and cared for at the same time. “This provides an open and honest communication framework through which we can focus on safety, execution, and growth so that we can help every one of our customers succeed,” he adds.

APELLA’s founder and Nikos’s father, HAF Lt. General (ret) Sotirios Kontoyannis, logged more than 3,500 hours on fighter aircraft spanning three decades and, much like every pilot, had a firm understanding and appreciation of flight safety. “A “Safety First” culture was something I also experienced throughout my years in Raytheon as an engineer supporting multiple US National Missile Defense programs,” he states. “Our collective experience also helped us gain a deep appreciation of the power a well-trained and properly prepared team had in achieving seemingly unattainable goals when inspired and supported.” Under the aegis of Nikos, APELLA strives to provide excellence in quality and consistency in execution with low turn-around times so that the customer realizes immediate cost savings. Their agility in translating a need into a service offering has been vital in helping the customers succeed, and their trust in APELLA has led to their growth.

Creating A Better Future

Before the COVID-19 outbreak, everyone saw a thrust from the OEMs to consolidate the aftermarket and control the playing field, most likely in an effort to generate aftermarket revenue streams to augment their manufacturing core efforts. And after the pandemic peaked, strained supply chains drove the prices upwards. This leaves very little maneuvering room for an MRO of APELLA’s size regarding pricing, so they focus on execution.

“We strive to provide excellence in quality and consistency in execution with low turn-around times so that our customer realizes immediate cost savings. Our agility in translating a need to a service offering for our customer has been a key to survival and growth,” says Nikos. “We are constantly looking into ways to streamline our operations and prepare ourselves for domestic and international growth. Other than installing an ERP that connects our activities across the company and improves our efficiency, we look at the benefits of widely using mobile devices for our MRO work, holographic imaging to assist in detailed aircraft maintenance projects as well as investigating various AI-driven tools that may give us insight into innovative ways of improving our operations and identifying new areas of development.”

APELLA is currently aiming to construct its base maintenance facility right next to the N. Aghialos airport near Volos, Greece, on its self-owned 100,000 sqm of land to offer base maintenance and aircraft painting services. Construction is slated to begin in early 2024 and ramp up until the end of 2026.   

" Our growth over the past years can be attributed to the same factor that distinguishes us from others in the market: our culture. "

Nikos Kontoyannis


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