The Florescu family has a long history of involvement with the country of Romania. Over the course of 700 years, the Florescus have distinguished themselves in the country’s emergence from a feudal to a modern state playing, at times, key roles: as statesmen, generals, composers, entrepreneurs, diplomats, and academics. Unlike many of the expatriates who went East to build companies in a post-communist world, Radu, John, and Nick Florescu returned to rediscover their family’s roots, and quickly became immersed in Romanian life – commerce, philanthropy, education, public policy, and entertainment.

As Romania shed its communist past, Centrade sought to bring Western knowhow, talent and media services to a country where almost all these assets were conspicuously absent. Among the first companies in the marketplace were multinationals like Procter & Gamble and British American Tobacco. These companies, among others, were Centrade’s first clients. By 1992, Centrade quickly assumed the public profile of Saatchi & Saatchi and became the first advertising company in Romania.

After Saatchi, Centrade developed a series of companies, including Zenith, and the first nationwide billboard company, Dockview, later sold to News Corp in 2001. Centrade continued to grow and reshape itself by forming new entities and aligning with international media brands like Sony, Viacom, Time Warner, Publicis, and WPP. In the process, Centrade developed into the full service media organization that it is today.

For better or for worse, Romania rests within a geopolitically strategic zone that made it vulnerable during WWII. Home to the largest oil fields in Europe, in the late 1930s, Romania was coveted by both the Allies and the Axis powers. When Romania was unable to secure alliances with its traditional Western allies of Great Britain and France prior to WWII, a pro-Nazi regime was installed, removing the young King. The Florescu family fled Romania and lived as political refugees in London and, later, Oxford for the remainder of the war years. In 1950, Professor Florescu emigrated to the United States, earning his PhD in Balkan history at the University of Texas and Indiana University. He later joined Boston College where after 50 years of teaching, he was named Professor Emeritus of History.

While in Boston, Massachusetts, the Florescus achieved public attention when Professor Radu Florescu wrote In Search of Dracula, an immediate best-seller which revealed for the first time the identity of the historical Dracula, Vlad Tepes, or Vlad Dracul as he was known. The Count portrayed in Bram Stoker’s 1897 novel, was actually a prince who ruled and fought against the infidel Turks in what is today part of Transylvania and Wallachia. In a fascinating twist, the Florescu family is linked to Vlad Tepes: 700 years ago a Florescu ancestor, Maria Florescu, married Vlad Dracul’s brother, Vlad the Monk.

For further information on the Dracula-Florescu connection, see Professor Radu Florescu’s In Search of Dracula (most recent edition was published by Houghton-Mifflin in 1994) or visit The History Channel website or YouTube for the 60-minute documentary “Bloodlines: The Dracula Family Tree” (2003).