Florin Campeanu, General Manager, Rentrop & Straton, Bucharest, Romania
SIPA: What was your first job out of college and how did you get into this business?
CAMPEANU: My first job was in mass media, back in 1993. I was a journalist for one of the most important Romanian daily newspapers, “Jurnalul national.” It wasn’t “out of college,” but… in the same time. I started to work one month after I was admitted to the university.
Has there been a defining moment in your career? Perhaps when you knew you were on the right road.
Definitely there was a defining moment for my career! I loved being a journalist, but after three years I realized that the Romanian media had moved to [becoming] a tabloid media: many crimes, fake celebrity, scandals, corruption. And this wasn’t my idea about mass media. I’m a conservative guy; I truly believe mass media must have an educational side.
In brief, describe your business/company?
Founded in 1995 in Bucharest, Rentrop & Straton, a B2B publishing company, is a part of VNR – Verlag fur die Deutsche Wirtschaft AG international network. We quickly became the leader of the specialized information market in Romania, and we still are after 15 years, even with the competition becoming stronger and stronger. Briefly, our mission is to make people more successful in their professional lives. We publish printed and electronic loose-leafs and newsletters and have a strong presence online, owning 15 portals (4 of them are paid-membership portals). We organize conferences and seminars (this year we counted more than 2,000 attendees to our events). We cover important target-groups such as taxes and duties, accounting, labor law, social insurances, human resources and management. We have a small B2C business with start-ups, business ideas and ready-made business. Rentrop & Straton has 130 employees, organized following the VNR model, in profit centers and service centers.
What are two or three important concepts or rules that have helped you to succeed in business?
It’s hard to identify only three. How about double or nothing?
Rule number 1) Always think like a marketer; 2) Ideas do not matter – only the execution counts; 3) Set big goals – have high expectations; 4) Always learn and test; 5) Try to do what you love and love what you do; 6) There are no rules…
What is the single-most successful thing that your company is doing now?
The code name is “Emaker.” And this software tool saved our publishing business during this long and deep recession which affects Romania. In a few words, we made software which allows us to create digital products (similar to ebooks but more complex) starting from pdf files. It’s a simple and quick process. These electronic products are secured (pdfs can be pirated and sent through email to a whole address book…), have a powerful search function and, most importantly, the information can be updated via a server. Our clients can read the information but can’t copy it. First, we moved our one-shot products onto the “Emaker” platform and we market them as short-term subscription products. We continued with loose-leafs. With Emaker, the loose-Leaf business enters in a new era: a digital one.
(It’s very important to say that the idea to create “Emaker” flashed before me on a SIPA roundtable I moderated in Miami last year. The roundtable was “From print to digital.” That’s what “Emaker” does.)
Do you see a trend or path in 2010 that you know you have to lock onto?
Let me answer with a famous quote from The Matrix, a movie I like (even if some people would smile): “Unfortunately, no one can be told what the Matrix is. You have to see it for yourself.” Replace Matrix with Recession and you’ll have a sad but true sentence. Recession is the keyword of 2010 (and, maybe, 2011). The Romanian market reacts very strangely. A product works in the morning but is a disaster in the afternoon. What we discovered this year was a decrease of the interest in loose-leafs. Nearly everything which means long-term subscription (12, 24 months) is rejected. We tripled the number of new products because we need “guns. Lots of guns,” as Keanu Reeves said in that movie.
What are the key benefits of SIPA membership for you and your team?
In the last 10 years I missed no more than two or three SIPA conferences. The most important thing of being a SIPA member is the power I feel to be a part of a big and important world organization. Networking at SIPA events is great. I met nice people in Washington, Miami, Munich and London, and I exchanged a lot of useful information which helped me in my business. At the same time, our managers and product-management staff also take the opportunity to attend SIPA conferences. They always come back to Romania with new editorial and marketing ideas. Maybe it sounds like an old commercial, but SIPA really changed my professional life. It’s great!
Where did you grow up?
I grew up in Dragalina, a small, small village lost in Baragan Plains, 110 km from Bucharest, the capital of Romania.
What college did you attend? Is there a moment from that time that stands out?
Bibliology and Information Science, Faculty of Letters at the Bucharest University. I also have a degree in Biblioteconomy, at the same university and a Master’s degree in “Management of eGovernment in the EU Enlargement Government.” I was admitted to a doctoral program at the University of Pitesti two years ago. I always regret that I had to work during my college studies… I missed a lot of fun, student meetings, social and cultural events. And please note that we were only three men in a class of 42 nice and intelligent women.
Are you married? Do you have children?
I’m married to Diana, an engineer who helped me to survive the last 10 years. She’s organized and she knows everything, every time. We have a child, Vlad-Cristian (3 years old), and I wrote a book about him (Jurnal de tatic), a father’s diary.
What is your favorite hobby and how did it develop in your life?
I love fishing; it’s a very relaxing hobby. How did it develop in my life? Well… Let’s say I discovered a close relationship between fishing and being a general manager. Before being a GM, I was a practitioner. Now, I’m a theoretician…
Is there a book you recently read or movie you saw that you would recommend?
The book is “The Presentation Secrets of Steve Jobs: How to Be Insanely Great in Front of Any Audience” by Carmine Gallo. It’s a great, great book, and it helped me a lot. And the movies are, always, “Two for the Money” with Al Pacino, Matthew McConaughey and Rene Russo. And “Door to Door” with William H. Macy.
All the best from Romania!
As Florin said, “Maybe it sounds like an old commercial,
but SIPA really changed my professional life.”
(He will be on a panel in Miami.)
That can happen to you as well with the
27th Annual Marketing Conference in Miami, Nov. 10-12.
The Ritz-Carlton, South Beach, Miami
View the agenda here
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(Last year they sold out quickly!)
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