As part of my internship at Integra U.S.A., I have the incredible opportunity to visit Romania, Albania, and Bulgaria. On this trip I will have a chance to see up close the companies and entrepreneurs that I have been working for from the office. The beginning of our trip seemed like one never ending day. Bob, Joe Feth, and I began our journey on Thursday and arrived in Frankfurt, Germany on Friday, however we only experienced a few hours of darkness beginning at 6pm central time. Needless to say no one really got any sleep. We followed this flight up with a short one to Budapest, where we met up with Peter Tashev (head of Integra in Central an d Eastern Europe), and a three hour drive weaving in and out of two lane traffic to Oradea, Romania.

When we arrived, we met Florica for a late lunch at the hotel. Florica wears many hats for Integra. For years she was involved with the women at risk program in Romania. She helped women learn a trade so that they could provide for themselves and their families. This program was very successful however changes to Romanian law no longer allowed for the micro loans Integra was providing. Florica has since been hired as staff by Integra Romania, and is now on the city council in Oradea. The purpose of our initial meeting was to catch up and brainstorm ideas of how she could help in our business as mission in Romania. One area we found she could be particularly helpful was in the truck company owned by her husband Stellian.

Stellian has the only business in the Oradea area that is certified to paint trucks and busses. However not even the busses used for public transportation, or the city owned trucks go to Stellian’s company for repairs or paint. The reason for this as we found out is that there are many mechanics in the area who paint and repair cars in unregistered shops and scrap yards. These mechanics don’t have to pay for certification or safety requirements set by the city government and can therefore charge a lower price, yet the same city government, that made the certification laws, is giving its business to places that are not up to code. This type of corruption is common place in Romania, but from what Florica has told us, the new mayor of Oradea is committed to bring credibility to the municipality. Florica has since contacted the mayor to arrange a meeting for Stellian to bring awareness to the problem and hopefully will be able to bring him Oradea’s public business.

Joe also had a long talk with Stellian about the management structure of his business. His talents lie in the technical aspect of his business, and he also functions as the company’s general manager. Joe pointed out that he needs a partner to whom he can delegate other responsibilities such as business administration, marketing, and accounting. Hopefully with these few changes, Stellian will be able to make a profitable business out of one that has done well to stay afloat during the recession.

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