Although Greg Bilezikian’s company, Dennis East International, has a worldwide footprint, his feet and heart are firmly planted on Cape Cod.
Bilezikian grew up working for his parents at the remarkably successful company they founded, Christmas Tree Shops, in Yarmouth Port, the company’s first retail location. He built on what he learned to open DEI, a top manufacturer and leader in the gift and home decor industry, with an office and warehouses in Yarmouth as well as offices in Florida and Hong Kong.
Although his favorite stomping grounds as a child was Barnstable Harbor near his family’s home, he knows the waters and the fishing community across the Cape. Among his offshore experiences has been weir fishing, harvesting schools of fish from bowls of nets hung on poles, one of the earliest fisheries ever practiced.
“It’s a time-honored tradition,” he says, adding that it needs to be celebrated. “Rekindling Cape Cod’s roots is always important.”
Looking at small fishing businesses across the Cape, from shellfishermen to scallopers, he believes there is tremendous potential for more people to experience the fine local flavor and color that has been such an enormous part of the peninsula’s heritage.
“They are uncelebrated and there are opportunities,” he said.
As an accomplished businessman he knows how important the success of those who make living on the water is to the health of the Cape, economically and culturally.
Over the years Bilezekian has gained expertise in financial management, marketing, personnel management and fundraising. Fundraising and giving back to the community are also a family tradition, which he is passing on to his four children; the Bilezikian Family Foundation is active on Cape Cod, Southeastern Massachusetts, Boston and Armenia. The foundation was one of the original grantors of the innovative Chatham Pier Host program, which supports retired captains who talk about the importance of the fishing industry to 3,000 or more visitors to the pier every day during the summer.