Manager at 21
Upon entering Skaptopara 1, no matter whether it is day or night, one of the first things you may hear is someone screaming “Banov!” at the top of their lungs. And if you are wondering, this is neither a swear-word nor some kind of a greeting. This is simply the name of this story’s main character.
Antonio Banov, or just Banov, since most of the people do not know his first name, is a third-year student majoring in Business Administration and European Studies. His friends often call him Banka as this nickname perfectly fits his hedonistic lifestyle. But behind the mask of a spoiled kid hides an ambitious 21-year-old guy who in less than a year managed to turn one of his childhood dreams into reality.
Banov comes from a family of businessmen and, as it usually happens, the apple does not fall far from the tree. When he was a kid, his father had a factory in Varna. Observing him managing the family business, Banov’s desire to be like his father gradually increased. “If you tell a 9-year-old that with work and ambition you can achieve everything, he or she won’t understand you. But when I grew up, I realized I want to be like him [my father], to have such responsibilities and certain things to depend on me,” he says. Therefore, Banov considers his father as his first role model – the person who influenced him from an early age and formed his passion for business.
As people like to say, fate knows what is best and last December it met Banov with one of the successful businessmen in Bansko who offered him the opportunity to manage, rent and eventually sell the apartments he owns. “He was impressed by my desire for work, my fresh ideas and correctness,” Banov recalls and admits that it did not take him too long to agree. At first he had to manage about ten apartments and then the number increased, which brought him even more responsibilities as he had to “take care of contracts, employees, inventory, etc.”
It took him only two weeks to rent out the ten apartments, which impressed the apartments’ owner even more. Until mid-January 2016 more apartments found their tenants. Later on, fortune smiled upon Banov once again when he got to know the manager of one of the big supermarket chains in Bansko who liked his offer and took 30 apartments for his employees. Currently, Banov works with 66 apartments which he primarily rents.
“I cannot brag about selling lots of apartments, though, since I haven’t been in the business for too long. I started in December 2015, so it has been a year,” he shares in a mere attempt to look modest. However, the turnout of 100,000 BGN he managed to make speaks for itself.
Today, though looking confident in what he does, Banov admits that the beginning was difficult. “For me, it was hard to start trusting the people with whom I work. Moreover, I was afraid that if something problematic happens I won’t be prepared to react.” The biggest issue he has faced so far is late payments, which is “something typical for every business” as he admits.
“I get much more than money. I earn their [my clients’] respect and trust. They come back and even bring me more clients!”
Such a job seems to be more like a big responsibility than something which can bring him fun and excitement. However, this is not exactly the case. Banov remembers with a smile the time when he broke a bed one hour before the tenants had to come and recalls the day when he and his employees moved a table from the first to the fourth floor four times.
His job also met him with several Bulgarian and international bankers, businessmen and celebrities. For example, among his clients are the rap singers Rumaneca & Enchev as well as Ivan Todorov, the CEO of Subway for Bulgaria and Romania. He admits that his fluency in English and French helps him when it comes to working with international tourists and has facilitated the majority of his deals so far.
In this sense, one of the most valuable lessons he learned for this year is that it is important to be correct and to behave properly with people. “If not, you won’t get anything more than money, which you are going to spend and that’s all,” he believes. That’s why Banov pays special attention to the relationship with those he works with. “I am correct and I get much more than money. I earn their [my clients’] respect and trust. They come back and even bring me more clients,” he shares.
Banov admits that “this is a profitable business” and that it is very possible that one day, after finishing his education, he will get involved in it even more. Currently, he follows the work of Stefan Sharlopov, the owner of Sharlopov Group, and of Levon Hampartzoumian, the CEO and Chairman of the Management Boar of UniCredit Bulbank, and admits that they are the people who truly inspire him with their persistence, dedication and business ideas.
And though for many Banov remains a synonym for someone who takes it easy, his motto that “you can achieve everything with hard work and positivism” breaks this stereotype… At least until the next time you see him singing and dancing to the rhythm of Goran Bregovic’s “Mesecina.”