So one day I arrived in Romania in Otopeni airport and then with the
taxi to the city center of Bucharest, with a suitcase and the good intension
to start "somewhere" in Romania a shirt factory. The agency
for development of Romania existed still in that period. (in the meanwhile
they apparently consider Romania developed enough, because they canceled
the agency) I went there first and they send me to Botosani in the north
east of Romania. A remote poor corner in a poor country. But in a pub
in Bucharest I learned, while drinking a beer, that in Shigisoara are
a lot of shirt factories. And in the telephone book I found an announcement
of Braiconf from Braila, the biggest Romanian Shirt factory. So decided
to drive to Botosani over Sighisoara and to come back over Braila. And
there we went, Me and a taxi driver from Bucharest on a big trip to discover
In Sighisoara I visited the biggest shirt factory first. The boss of the
Tarnava Shirt factory said that launching an order usually took here a
week. I said WHAT? A week? And what do you do in that week? Yes, she said,
we prepare the order and buy the sewing thread. And why does that take
a week ? But that has to come from Bucharest 300 miles away, she answered.
Here in Sighi is nothing. That alarmed me. And promptly I dumped the Idea
to clime in that north east corner at some 600 miles from Bucharest. So
we drove directly to Braila. There I found out that there were free zones
in Romania. The closest to Bucharest was Giurgiu at the Bulgarian border.
So there I hired an apartment and started our Romanian company Sofema
Shirts SRL. But Giurgiu and I had no luck that there was a boss in the
free zone in that time, a mister x who happened to be the most corrupt
man a should met in my 5 years in Romania. There for after 6 months of
fruitless negotiations I left Giurgiu and headed for the harbor city of
Contstanta at the black sea. There was also a free zone and the authorities
were so normal business minded that I was suspicious after my Giurgiu
We signed a contract with the land owner and started the repair of the
building. Repair is actually not a good worth. Because only the concrete
structure of the building remained. I put a new roof, gutter, floor, façade,
ceiling, electricity, toilets, inner walls, paint, paint, paint, etc etc.
Than we installed the machine park and we started to instruct the first
workers. In the area of Basarabi where we exactly constructed the factory
is no textile tradition what so ever. All the workers had to be instructed
from zero. The first months were exhausting, but now it goes fine and
we make 2700 shirts a day. (sounds easy) We produce for some of the world
most famous brands. (I can not name them) We had a lot of troubles with
the union here, but at the end of the day everything came to a solution.
For Pictures of Sofema go to: www.sofema.rdsct.ro
In the meanwhile I live already 5 years in Romania. Time to move on ?
Yes indeed! My baby Sofema Shirts is grown up and stable. I hope to leave
in this year 2003 to new horizons, far away from here, where I will start
all over again.