Dennis Mendoros - a major player in aircraft engineering

Dennis Mendoros talks to Martin Pilkington about his extraordinary career and almost superhuman energy levels

Like Clark Kent, Dennis Mendoros looks an unlikely superman. But when you consider that not only is he managing director and owner of Euravia, a major player in aircraft engineering, but that he also finds time for a seemingly endless list of offices in the voluntary sector, you start to look for the blue cape.

His early life and career wouldn’t necessarily explain why his company is located in Kelbrook near Colne. ‘I was born in the Sudan, which was a British colony, though my family is Greek. My father ran a shipping business in Port Sudan. We left in 1968 and I finished high school in Athens, before going to Perth in Scotland to study aerospace engineering - it was one of the very best places at the time if you wanted to be an engineer licensed by the Civil Aviation Authority.’

Dennis returned to Greece to serve in the Hellenic Air Force before joining the Greek arm of American conglomerate General Electric. There he helped commission a plant for Hellenic Aerospace Industries, which he then joined: ‘Though I was very young I was put in charge of all foreign contracts. I started with zero and within five years had built up a business with an annual turnover of $68 million.’ That period also yielded a great contacts book with clients in the USAF, RAF, NATO and civil airlines. ‘I decided then to test my ability to run a business of my own, so on January 10, 1988 I started Euravia Engineering over here.’

The logic for moving to Lancashire – initially Altrincham - was the aerospace hub between Pendle and Preston, which meant customers, a supply chain and skilled operatives existed there. What started as a one-man operation rapidly expanded. Entrepreneurs see – and exploit – opportunities, and that’s what Dennis Mendoros did, setting up his engineering plant in the Pendle district.

‘Back in the early 1980s Rolls Royce had taken the decision to move their engine-testing from Barnoldswick to Derby and, as a result, they left behind an excellent resource of engineers trained in varied disciplines, that you wouldn’t find anywhere else in the world. The best workforce ready-made. Everything was there. When Euravia started it was a low cost but highly skilled operation. We could move very quickly from engineering services to manufacturing and maintenance of jet engines.

‘Today we have a network of associated companies in 18 different locations around the world, and we have just commissioned a state-of-the-art maintenance facility for helicopters in Saudi Arabia – part of our company. We have customers in 50 different countries, working in every continent.’

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If you want something doing, ask a busy person. Plenty have asked Mr Mendoros over the years. He was a board member of the North-West Development Agency from 1998 to 2004; a founder member and sometime chairman of the North-West Aerospace Alliance; chaired the Pendle Strategic Partnership from 1994 to 2005, during which that organisation secured more than �180 million of investment for the locality; and currently chairs the Pendle Vision Board that is working to regenerate that area.

Anything else? ‘At the moment I am chairman of Regenerate Pennine Lancashire, which is owned by the six local authorities here and the county council. It operates to support strategic economic development of this part of Lancashire. We have just managed to get funding to re-develop Brierfield Mills in Pendle, a huge building which was left derelict when its industrial use ended. It will make a showcase and centre for business in Lancashire, with mixed use planned, though we have not finalised everything on that side yet.’

‘And I am currently a member of the court for UCLan and Lancaster University – and a few other things but those are the main ones.’

One role of which Dennis is particularly proud was his year of office as High Sheriff of Lancashire in 2010 - 2011. ‘In Lancashire we are very fortunate because the Queen is also, of course, the Duke of Lancaster and she makes the appointment of the High Sheriff of Lancashire, which is unique. The duties are mainly ceremonial, but as High Sheriff you follow the traditions of an office which has been in existence for over 1,000 years – it is an absolutely wonderful experience and a tremendous honour.’

Wanting to leave a legacy after his term he established the Empowerment Programme in the county ‘Working with the Prince’s Trust, Lancashire Constabulary, and Lancashire Fire Service among others we recruited volunteers and helped young people from challenging backgrounds in developing their career prospects, and to become useful members of society.’ And he left another, more tangible memento of his stewardship in the form of beautiful gilded icons presented to St Mary’s Priory in Lancaster, and his local church, St Michael’s and All Angels in Foulridge.

After all that, if you still don’t believe a man can fly, consider his hobbies (and the fact that he even has time for any). With his wife Karen and, when possible, with his children Alexander and Stephanie, now both in their 20s, he loves sailing the 60’ motor yacht he keeps moored near Athens. Diving too, in the Mediterranean and Caribbean is also a passion.

‘Anywhere it’s warm and there is beautiful clear water – it’s the most relaxing thing you can ever do, another world.’

And inevitably he enjoys flying. ‘I don’t do a lot now, but was very fortunate when I was High Sheriff to fly with the RAF. These days I mainly get to fly aircraft of historic value. I learned when I was studying in Scotland, flying from Dundee airport – the best place to learn to fly because if you can fly in their weather conditions you can fly anywhere in the world!’

Then the interview ended. He had been in Saudi Arabia the day before, and at five the next morning was flying to Singapore, with meetings in Australia to follow. He probably needed an aeroplane, but then again...



The print version of this article appeared in the May 2012  issue of Lancashire Life  We can deliver a copy direct to your door – order online here

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