Croatian war veteran turned businessman – fantastic success story.
Courage and vision are essential for success of any business venture. That is a belief which is shared by Petar Šimić from Vinkovci in Croatia, the owner of Grad – Export company. In the last 15 years, he has managed to turn a small company which used to produce panelling and parquetry into the largest manufacturer of decorative panels for front doors in Southeast Europe, reports Tportal on December 26, 2015.
Šimić’s company annually produces about 40,000 panels which are exported to 27 countries, among others to Russia, the United States and Canada. More than 70 percent of panels are sold abroad. He employs about 130 workers and has annual revenues of over 45 million kuna, and regularly invests his profits into the purchase of new machinery and technology.
He became entrepreneur in 1992, shortly after he came out of the trenches where he took part in the defence of his hometown during the war. “When UN peacekeepers came to the line of demarcation and the fighting stopped, I came to the conclusion that I could help more in a different way than to continue receiving military salary for doing anything. First I started with the production of wall and floor panels, and then the parquetry. I was first introduced to plastic panels in 1999 and then I realized that it was the material of the future”, Šimić said.
After he won over his foreign customers with his lower prices, the entrepreneur from Vinkovci proved that he can produce quality goods. Šimić said that all of his technology, machinery and raw materials come from Germany, which guarantees that his decorative panels are equal in quality to products made by Western companies. “Surely, I would not have made it without my sons Mario and Alen. They started working for the company five years ago. The rest of my family is also involved. I think that without family support I could not do it. Western economies are based on this kind of medium-size family businesses”, Šimić added.
Grad – Export employs between 130 to 150 people, depending on demand. They will soon create about 20 new permanent jobs, after they open a new facility with a modern production line worth one million euros. “When looking for new employees, the most important thing is for them to be willing to learn and to know how to work on computers. We do not care which school they have graduated from”, Šimić said, adding that the average salary in his company is about 4,900 kuna.
His advice for all unemployed young people is to try to start their own businesses. “They should take advantage of everything that is being offered: incentives from the state and EU funds for young entrepreneurs. Today’s modern technologies and the internet give them various possibilities. They have nothing to lose, because even if they fail they will just return to the starting point – being unemployed. One out of ten will succeed, and they just need to believe that they are that one”, Šimić concluded.