The core business activity of ISC Real is the establishment of foreign companies in Slovakia, either by creation of a brand new entity or by acquisition of an existing one. The high credibility of ISC Real and the quality of our services is directly conneted with the professionalism and long-term experience of our team members who are the guarantee that the right decisions will be taken in the strategic planning of your company.
ISC Real has established more than seventy companies in Slovakia. Most of these companies continue to be our customers to whom we now provide accounting and human resource management services.
You are of a mixed Swiss- French origin. What brought you to Slovakia? When did you decide to settle down in Slovakia?
I came here for the first time twenty years ago with my hometown hockey team. I did not know much about Slovakia then but I was pleasantly surprised by this country. Then I came back and forth a couple of times and I finally settled down here.
When did you come up with an idea to start your own business? Was it completely natural or was it a long-term process?
This country went through its worst before creating a fair business environment. There were not many businessfriendly incentives and there was omnipresent corruption and a complicated tax system. The only advantage at that time was a cheap labor force – but this was obviously not sufficient. My company has been progressively growing thanks in part to many reforms that have been made in recent years. We started off with a small team providing company acquisition services for foreign customers. Later on, we added the idea of outsourcing for foreign companies in Slovakia, which turned out to be very successful, especially in the field of road freight transport.
Why do you think road freight transport was so successful?
Our team has been working in the field of road transport for more than 5 years. The year 2004 was also marked by a boom in terms of establishment of foreign transport companies in Slovakia. It was not fully unexpected; thanks to what I mentioned before. Slovak membership in the European Union sent a very strong signal towards western countries where many business people were still reluctant to enlarge their activities further to the east. However, we managed to convince them and they are now thankful for the tough decision they made. We are proud of our small contribution to their huge success and prosperity.
How would you describe the impact of the world financial crisis on this sector?
As a company we have not been influenced that much but nevertheless, it is an issue of global concern. The transport business depends mostly on production. If production decreases significantly,
it will have an impact on the transport sector as a whole. In my opinion, small companies are handicapped with many having gone bankrupt over the last couple of months. Banks are not very helpful either as they are taking too many precautions before they decide to finance a project. Transport companies are therefore unable to develop, invest or just overcome difficult times. Of course, if they have lost a majority of their customers, a bank loan would not help them bounce back. Luckily enough, some of our customers were able to hold onto the same number of customers and even find new ones. Unfortunately, they were held back by the reluctance of banks to grant loans or to lend at a decent interest rate.
Another problem lies in delayed payments for services rendered. Waiting for payment for more than a month or two after the due date can substantially influence your cash flow. As a result, even a healthy company able to retain its customers becomes insolvent. I do not need to stress what happens next. Combine it with what I have said previously and you get stuck in a vicious circle.
What is your own recipe to overcome the current – but hopefully only temporary – downturn?
I strongly believe that by each of us contributing just a very little bit we all can make this crisis as short as possible. My recipe is very simple. If I worked hard before the crisis, now I work even harder, together with motivating my employees to do the same. As a team we do not reduce our commitment to provide the best services to our customers. I do not use the word crisis as an excuse for misbehavior towards either my customers or my employees, like many do. My personal advice for those considering relocation of their business is to have a good look at Slovakia and then to come over and start their new business projects here. Our company is ready to assist and provide them with tailor- made services including full establishment of their company, selection of the most appropriate employees, book-keeping and lots more.