The names of entrepreneurs Adrian Mihai, Neculai Mihai and Felix Patrascanu are linked to a company that, for many years, has been the undeniable leader of the courier services market in Romania. The company is FAN Courier, which has already reached 6,150 employees and a turnover close to RON 674 million.
„The FAN Courier project is definitely the biggest professional achievement for my partners and I. Looking back, we started with a single Dacia car and we now have over 3,900 vehicles in our fleet; we started in an apartment and now we’re spread over 100,000 square meters,” says Felix Patrascanu, the company’s CEO, adding that “20 years ago we would sort deliveries manually, and today we have the most high-performance sorting conveyors in South-East Europe. Back then, we had a few friends and partners whom we would meet at the train station to hand them the deliveries, and today we’ve crossed Romaina’s borders.”
The Mihai brothers started doing business in 1991. Adrian got into business during his first year at university. Six years later, the Mihai brothers and Felix Patrascanu set the foundations of FAN Courier, which would go on to become the leader of the Romanian courier market. “Every step forward, at its time, is your most important achievement, which is why it’s hard to talk about pieces. It’s as if you were doing a puzzle and got fascinated by just one of the pieces, not by the whole thing. I’d rather look at the whole thing,” says Patrascanu.
The first major investment made by the three associates was in their Pipera headquarters. They put in around EUR 500,000-600,000, some of which came from a bank loan. Then came their centre on the Bucharest Ring Road. It’s a hub that spans over 30,000 sqm, comprising a 10,000-sqm warehouse with 119 unloading gates, an office building and a parking lot. The investment exceeded EUR 20 million and was finalised in 2011. This year, FAN Courier’s investments exceeded EUR 25 million.
“2018 was still a year when we focused on investments, because without investments, no company, big or small, can make any long-term plans” the CEO explains, and adds that “fleet investments are recurrent, but also very important.” Since we’re in a centenary year, we challenged Felix Patrascanu to draw up a list of the greatest assets and vulnerabilities of the Romanian economy.
“I am structurally a very optimistic person, so I will start with the constructive aspects. Romania’s biggest asset is its toughness. This country doesn’t give up – it is reborn every time. And this is where you can also observe the economy’s biggest asset – it is able to adapt, just like the earth,” says Felix Patrascanu. “If you look closely at the economy, you realise it’s a field that gives you enough space to build. You just need to choose what to build, where to do it and how long it will take. And see what you need to get there,” he says.
The country’s greatest vulnerability is its ego
On the vulnerabilities of the Romanian economy, the FAN Courier CEO believes that, “paradoxically, this advantage is also a disadvantage. Because if you don’t have a clear vision, you can end up in a situation like the legend of Manole. What a government builds, another tears down. Therefore, Romania’s biggest vulnerability is the absence of big objectives and a plan to achieve them, a strategy.” Patrascanu uses Finland as an example, which has made education a long-term strategic objective and follows this principle regardless of the type government that comes into power.
“For 25 years, we’ve been aiming to become something, to be capitalists, but each government sees the Romania project differently. Some cut taxes, others add more, some close down hospitals, others don’t care about them. Each government and each education minister comes up with their own vision about the children’s final exams. How can you change the criteria every year, when the students were prepared based on a different system? This country’s big vulnerability is ego – the desire of every government to be remembered for something, but those goals are unfortunately never achieved in time,” he concludes his short, but comprehensive evaluation of the Romanian economy and society.provider was valued at USD 3 billion.