When he came to Norway, almost 6 years ago, Lucian Lazar (31 years old) left behind a huge disappointment. He wanted to have a good, honest business in Romania, but unfortunately, in a country full of theft and corruption, he didn’t have any chance. He came to Norway as a simple worker and started everything from scratch. Now he is a partner in a prosperous business that includes seven pizzerias, a restaurant, a kebab factory that delivers all over Norway and a warehouse that distributes all kind of raw materials that are used in pizzerias.
It’s not the American dream, but it’s certainly a beautiful story with a very happy end. Built with very hard work, hope, enthusiasm, a very good sense of business and chances given by a beautiful country that became, after 6 years spent here, home.
Today, Lucian’s story is certainly a very successful one. But the road up to this point was not easy. And it included lot of disappointment, in a country where to be good, capable, honest and hard working is never enough.
He is from Piatra Neamt, a small town of about 100.000 inhabitants in eastern Romania.
When he started college, he truly dreamt that, one day, he will become a very good engineer. He graduated from Consumer Protection and Food Engineering, he worked during college but, when had finished his studies, he faced the Romanian profoundly corrupted system, where you have to pay, unofficially, for almost anything, from doctor’s attention to a good job. He did not do that.
He had chosen to go to a 5 stars complex and start from scratch, as a waiter. But he was good, ambitions, and went up step by step, until he became the manager of the whole complex. Then he tried to start his own business, a pallet company. But things worked “as in Romania”. There were people who did not pay for the goods he delivered. Others who expected money to sign contracts. The person responsible with the payments in a big company he was collaborating with used the company’s money to play at slot machines, instead of paying the providers.
He couldn’t resist. So he got to “that point” when he said “Stop” (I think we all who take this decision of leaving our native countries have a “that point”, in one way or another).
“I’ve never been a fan of this idea, of leaving your country. Yet, in November 30, 2013, I got to Norway. A friend helped me, we worked together at the Romanian complex, he brought me here”, he says.
From nothing to a prosperous business
His first job was right where we are talking about his story. A small pizzeria located right in the center of Stavanger, the fourth’s biggest city in Norway and the oil center of the country. “I came here as a worker. Three persons had already worked here, the manager, his uncle and one of his cousins. After one month, we didn’t have enough money to pay our debts. And I told the owner that I don’t think he knows how to manage his business”, remembers Lucian, smiling.
“So I told him to give up his uncle and his cousin. We kept on working just the two of us, we started renovating the place. Four months I’ve been a simple worker, I didn’t even have a salary. I was sleeping upstairs, on the first floor. Only six months after the business started turning into a profitable one”, he says.
Then the business had grown, and now Happy Time is a well known local brand in the area. The owner, who is an Iraqi citizen living in Sweden, opened with his brothers a new location in Bryne, a small town nearby. A restaurant and five more pizzerias followed. Møllehagen Restaurant is in Bryne, the other five pizzerias are in Sola, Kvernaland, Kvadrat, Sandnes and Naerbo. A new location will be opened this week, in Tananger. At first two pizzerias, Lucian has a salary and a percent of the profit. At the others, he is partner in the business.
They also opened, as partners, a kebab factory in Algard, a small city nearby. The factory produces about 27 tons per month, delivered all over Norway. They also have a warehouse where they already import and deliver everything that is necessary in a pizzeria, from ingredients to package.
Working with Romanian employees
90 percent of the people that are working in the whole business are from Romania. In pizzerias, 48 from 62 employers are Romanians, and at the kebab factory all 12 workers come from Romania.
They also started some businesses in Romania, where Lucian and his associate are going regularly. “He was fascinated by the places he had seen there, first we’ve been 4 years ago and we are going at least 2-3 times a year, ever since”, he says. Alone, he goes more often, usually once in two months.
A new life in Norway
Lucian’s wife followed him in Norway, 4 months after he left. They have a beautiful 3 years old daughter, born and raised here. His wife works as an accountant of the firm.
“Norway is a very beautiful country, and you can achieve everything you want if your will is strong enough. Banks support you. People are usually cold when you say you are coming from Romania, many of them don’t even know where exactly it is located on the map. But if you start working with the Norwegians, they are extremely correct people. I’ve met some people who just grabbed their hands with us and we started working together”, he says, remembering how, in Romania, for the same purpose, they needed long talks with lawyers and lot of papers to settle how they will do something together.
And there was another thing he had learnt here – not to be stressed anymore. “Norwegians seem very relaxed people, they simply know how to live their lives. People do one or two things a week, but they do them very good”, he adds.
He doesn’t plan to come back. It’s a very good system here, for him and his family, with good chances for anyone who is good and truly wants to work. “You can’t possibly come back after you see how things work in here. I want my child to study here and to live this lifestyle”, he says.
Romania will always be in his heart, he misses his parents, family, friends and quiet, beautiful places that simply take your breath away. But it’s not enough. “We don’t know how to value ourselves”, he adds, and the discussion turns back inevitably to the system. If it had been like in here, theft, corruption, won’t be allowed anymore.
And probably the number of Romanians who decide to live their lives abroad won’t be that big. Statistics put Romania on the second place in the world, after Syria, at the number of citizens who chose to live outside the country.
Do you know a very special person? Someone who has followed his dream, built it piece by piece, with passion, energy and lot of soul? An usual, simple person who did something in life, who you can identify with, who can be, for others, a source of inspiration? Tell me about that person and let’s tell the others his/her beautiful story. Write me at email@example.com, here, on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.