Serghei Suruceanu
There are plenty of people who would like to build a world-class business. How to start a business and how to bring together a team? We don't have an answer. So, we asked the most experienced employee of the company - Serghei Suruceanu, the founder of Grafit Holding. As result, we've got a nice interview under the #successtory heading.
How did the company start? How did you come up with the idea of building a company and a holding?
I never thought about running an international holding. I have been moving gradually towards this goal together with my colleagues and partners for 20 years. In 1998, I was working as a web designer, painted in Photoshop and coded in PHP. I wanted to develop and to reach a new level, this is how I got the idea of working remotely with foreign companies.

At that time, I accidentally met a guy from New York. We started to create websites for American clients. By 2003, we had a small team working remotely. At some point, we realized that it was time to get together and open an office. This is how we started providing outsourcing IT services for medium and large businesses in the United States. From 2004 to 2008, our team got a great experience working with Paramount Pictures.

After working for other businesses for over 10 years, in 2012 my team and I decided to open our own business, called - Sovamax Trading. Eminia Trading was launched a year and a half later, and Lanius - a year later after Eminia. In 2016, we united all IT departments from all projects, accounting, logistics and analytics and called it MTeam. Thanks to this consolidation there were launched the following startups: Agava, Sovamax USA, RA Trading. In 2019, the creation of the Board of Directors was the icing on the cake. It is a governing body that sets strategic directions for the entire company. It was this decision that helped us to unite all projects into a single holding.
What is the difference between being employed and working for yourself? How does it feel running an international business from Moldova?
Of course, there is a big difference between being employed by a company and managing processes by yourself, because in the last case, it is a 24-hour responsibility.

When you work for a company, you don't think about the global problems of the company. When you have been running a business for 22 years, all crises are taken personally. I have been working for this company for more than half of my life, and it has become an essential part of my life. There are definitely pros and cons in each of the options. If you avoid stressful situations, then it is better to build a career as an employee. But if you cannot find a comfortable environment for yourself and you are ready to devote your life to a business, then you can start it... Your primary goal should be your business, not the money.

Running a business from Moldova means to balance between different cultures and mindset. The client expects one thing, the employees - quite another, and you need to be a bridge between them.
Your primary goal should be your business, not the money.
Working in Grafit is ...
Interesting, challenging and promising. I think that doing something unique makes me feel great, pleasant and definitely flatters my professional ego.
The holding consists of more than 400 employees. How did you manage to build such a big team?
To be honest, we didn't have a goal to hire as many employees as possible. First of all, we thought about how to improve manager effectiveness, to do our job well and to have a high-quality product. A large team of great specialists was formed during the development of the company and launching of the new start-ups. People are united by the atmosphere in the company and by the ability to make good money without having to go abroad.

We strive to become a company that develops smart solutions for business, rather than constantly increasing the number of employees. Thus, we try to reduce the amount of daily job routine thanks to the work of our IT department. Nature has given us a mind to think, analyze and make decisions, but not for doing routine tasks with data.
Serghei, you told us, that any employee can become a business partner. What do you mean and how does it happen?
It is worth mentioning, that we have two types of partnership and both of them have transparent conditions. The first option is to become an investor and to receive a profit percentage in a startup without being an employee of the company. And the second, a manager who has worked in the company for more than one year, invests his knowledge, time, experience in a new project and becomes a partner. Honestly, the second option is more common.

When I started this business, I realized that I had enough knowledge in IT, but I had no experience in sales and warehouse processes. Therefore, the primary task was to assemble a team of partners capable of taking responsibility for warehouse processes, sales and purchases. This team continues to grow and it consists of 14 people now. We plan to launch two more startups, and this means the number of partners will be greater.
What makes Grafit different from other companies?
1) Absence of nepotism. In our company you do not need to be someone's relative in order to develop the career and earn money.

2) Any person can become a partner and a co-owner of the company for life. There are businessmen who are sure that partnership doesn't make any sense and the business should exist exclusively within the family. I do not build a business to pass it on to my children. They have to achieve everything by themselves.

3) We train all managers within the holding. If you want to become the CEO of the project, you need to go all the way from start to finish.

4) Fast career growth. In just a few years, a regular employee can become a manager with a salary of 1200 euros per month, and then - a vice president with a salary of 1700 euros.
Every manager who is against change gets my following answer: "If we die today, we will die because of you."
How do you see the holding in 10 years?
In 10 years, I see Grafit Holding as a successful and growing company. The development of the company is the highest priority. This includes the generation of ideas and the creation of new products. I think it is important that managers do not face stagnation. It is also important to create conditions for a comfortable work environment and development of employees here in our company, in their teams. And this is possible if you constantly develop yourself and the company.

In the future, we will continue to streamline work processes with the help of our IT department, reducing the amount of routine for our specialists.

I am convinced that people need to do smart things to fulfill their potential. It is very important to be flexible and quickly adapt to realities in our business. Every manager who is against change gets my following answer: "If we die today, we will die because of you." I always remember Einstein's words: "Life is like riding a bicycle. In order to keep your balance, you must keep moving. " It works for both, business and life.
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