Meet the visionary behind EMI — a man who has a constant flight of ideas, one crazier than the other. “He is 101% positive,” says co-founder Merike about founder Argo Sildvee.
Argo believes in the saying that if you look at the 5 people around you that you spend the most time with, you will soon know where you are headed. Luckily he has a great team beside him!
Argo says that EMI was born to fill the void that became more and more apparent to him over the 15 years he was involved in sales. “Talking to honorary consuls, embassies and Enterprise Estonia they all said that the shipbuilding sector did not have a cluster-like formation to support such companies and also provide an umbrella, where the quality of companies could be thoroughly validated,” Argo recalls the origin story of EMI. “A state-owned organisation, such as Enterprise Estonia (EAS) has to sell everything from needles to heavy machinery and it is understandable that they cannot prefer one company to another and may also lack resources to check the background of each company. This is how EMI is different,” he argues.
Argo finds EMI’s concept unique due to the honesty and transparency the organisation offers. “We are the local partner to do all of the background work for our customers and choose the best suited partners for each step of the way. Or alternatively, if you wish to come to Estonia, we can showcase to you all the manufacturers firsthand in a short amount of time,” lists Argo the strengths of EMI.
Argo considers himself a true patriot of Estonia: “Estonia has standout companies, we have a lot to offer to the world! That is why EMI was founded — to introduce this value to the world through a systematic and pre-certified process,” he says.
Born out of the crisis
Until the beginning of 2020, all was well — people did support the idea that something like EMI should exist, but nobody felt the true necessity. “The corona crisis changed everything. At this point everybody felt the uncertainty and soon we had a virtual roundtable with 8 companies to discuss whether any work could be shared with each other. From that meeting onwards the creation of EMI was rather rapid,” Argo explains. “Even though EMI was born due to the crisis, the value we offer is beyond that and as the market recovers, EMI will surely grow even bigger and become more powerful.”
As the like-minded companies assembled under one umbrella, it became apparent what value such cooperation can bring both to the partners and customers. It all began with the shipbuilding sector, but it soon became clear that most of these companies also do a lot on land — may it be a hotel, restaurant or a bar. So naturally EMI started supporting them in both lines of business. Besides offering solutions to land-based projects and shipbuilders, EMI also works with series production projects — EMI can help with anything from engineering to manufacturing, sales and marketing.
EMI is like a central hub. “We are kind of peace negotiators, who sit on many chairs at once — we stand for our customers to make sure they get the best solutions, but also represent our partners and what Estonian companies are able to do,” Argo explains. “EMI wants to contribute to completing the whole project, not just parts of it. We really can be the full service providers, who take care of anything from engineering, design to manufacturing and installation, thanks to our large network of Estonian partners,” he says.
According to Argo, EMI is doing well. “Recently, we have had inquiries from such countries as Japan, Norway, and France,” he lists. Argo dreams that in five years, there is a big expedition cruiser being built somewhere in the world and the shipowner comes directly to EMI to get everything through us. “When this happens, I can proudly say that we have done a good job,” Argo concludes.
He does not doubt that EMI will grow even further in the future. “I imagine us having several clear divisions focusing on different business areas and numerous new markets, where we would have a local EMI representative posted,” Argo projects the vision, naming Germany, France, and Finland among the likely new markets for the shipbuilding projects and Norway, Netherlands and Denmark for land projects.
According to co-founder Merike, Argo is rarely discouraged about something. “Whatever happens, he is always able to take it with a bit of humor and that is a much-needed skill. There is always light at the end of the tunnel for him, a solution is just around the corner. Besides that, it is always fun with him,” Merike says. She does admit that sometimes, Argo can be a bit hasty and needs someone besides him to give a bit of structure. “That is exactly why our team works!”.
Outside working hours, Argo enjoys hobbies, which he calls the typical hobbies of the average Estonian man: running, cycling, skiing. But besides sports, he has a green thumb and is a skillful builder, who seems to always have a project in progress. He recharges his batteries in nature, away from the city,full-service and has recently followed his sun by taking up golfing.