A Macedonian Miracle: Zoran Rosomanov and the Survival of Free Enterprise in the Balkans by Christopher Deliso April 17, 2002 In the sweltering heat of Summer 2001, as Macedonian Army helicopters were flying overhead to bomb the NLA in nearby Aracinovo, Zoran Rosomanov was laying the foundation for his new factory. At the height of the war, in the midst of chaos and uncertainty about Macedonia's political and economic future, Rosomanov was betting everything he had on the future success of his new enterprise. He had personally signed off on the bank loans, putting his assets and professional credibility on the line. He freely admits now that "many people thought I was crazy." Yet he persevered nonetheless, with a conviction that never wavered, and an optimism that was never stifled. Now this charismatic visionary is one of the leading young businessmen in Macedonia. His upstart printing house has taken the Balkans by storm, and thrown the competition into a panic. Almost always, the news from Macedonia seems to be bad. It is a refreshing change, therefore, to come across a story of success. And though this story chronicles one man and his entrepreneurial efforts, the tale has wider applications. For in it are intertwined many potent themes: war and its alternatives, the true patriotism and the false, free markets and the role of the state. These are issues that reverberate all around the world, not merely in one beleaguered Balkan country.
Putting Macedonia on par with the West Rosomanov's company, Bato and Divajn, is exceptional for its technological sophistication. Specializing in printing and design, this operation uses cutting-edge printing machines from Germany's Heidelberg â€“ a world leader in the field. With these state-of-the-art machines, Rosomanov can print up to 15,000 sheets per hour. He has convinced Heidelberg to give him upgrades every few years on credit, as well as to maintain a repair team in his factory. Now he is working on becoming the company's sole Balkan representative. Together with his business partner, expert printer Dusan Onchevski, Rosomanov manages an extremely complex operation that produces all of those essential things that most people take for granted: bus tickets, beer labels, cigarette boxes and poster advertisements, to name but a few. The factory itself is very sensitive, requiring constant regulation of the moisture content and room temperature. The trained staff of forty works with highly complicated and highly valuable machinery â€“ the intricately ridged design templates alone sell for $18,000 each. Until Rosomanov's $2.7 million investment, Macedonia's printing world had never seen anything to compare with this technology. Hardly anyone had any experience in an industry that was almost entirely non-existent. Not only were the machines expensive, they had to be trucked from far-off places like Germany â€“ a cumbersome process that Rosomanov once expedited, by attaching blue lights to the top of his car. His "police escort" enabled the truck to motor freely south to Skopje. Such imaginative pragmatism has characterized Zoran Rosomanov's business style from the start. Where others saw only barriers, he saw opportunities. Where many felt helpless to stop the war, he saw a way to establish the preliminary conditions for peace. Indeed, when there was no printing industry in agriculture-minded Macedonia, he created one. Rosomanov would stand out anywhere for his enthusiasm and initiative; in Macedonia, he is almost an anomaly.