When Zdenko Juric arrived in Canada 1998, he wasn't thinking he would own the largest home inspection company in the Halifax region and three extra franchises
This article originally appeared in the April 5, 2016 edition of The Burnside News.
By Chris Muise
Zdenko Juric has managed to build a pretty great life for himself and his family, right here in Burnside. Juric is a franchise owner with A Buyers Choice Home Inspections - a service that appraises homes for potential issues before it goes on the market. In fact, Juric is the first to own a franchise with the company that started here in Nova Scotia, and now owns the largest home inspection company in the Halifax region, with three extra franchises to his name.
But Juric’s journey to his dream life was fraught with more turmoil than most of us have to endure toward reaching our goals.
I’m originally from Bosnia, from ex-Yugoslavia," says Juric, whose home country was embroiled in a war in the early 1990s. "In 1992, in the middle of the war, my family and myself and my parents, we couldn't stay back home anymore. We had to abandon this area, so we moved on."
Juric and his family would relocate to Croatia as refugees, until his family relocated to Germany with the help of the Red Cross (Juric admits he joined them soon after by illegally crossing the border). When the war ended in 1995, the German government told Juric it would soon be time to go home.
But for Juric, home – that is to say, Bosnia – was not an option.
"I did went back home first time in early March, 1995, and I saw destruction – there was nothing left of the country," says Juric. "My home, everything was gone. There was nothing, really, to go back to."
"At the time, my kids were still young, small," adds Juric. "So I decided to go somewhere else."
Juric’s family eventually found their way to Canada, where they were given a choice to live by the mountains in a province like Alberta, or by the sea, here in Nova Scotia. They would arrive in Halifax in 1998.
"We fell in love with Nova Scotia, with Halifax," says Juric, who loves the province for its natural beauty. He adds that his children's excitement for living by the beach was a major deciding factor in choosing to move here – but not the only reason they stayed.
"But also the people, who helped. us a lot through this journey of ours," says Juric, who took several jobs in the Burnside before he got his real estate license in 2007. "There's no better country to live, especially for young people who want to work hard."
Juric says that he’s recently been back to visit Bosnia, and is confident that his family would not have had the opportunities they found here if they had chosen to return home.
"I just was there recently, a couple months ago. I mean, no war, no corruption, some stuff rebuilt quite a bit," says Juric. "But there’s still ruins - we can see it - there's no economy, there's no jobs. Everybody's leaving."
Helping a new generation of newcomers
Juric’s story is one that many newcomers to Nova Scotia today can relate to. Due to the Syrian refugee crisis, thousands of families are coming to our shores to escape a violent war, just like Juric did.
That commonality has not escaped Juric’s notice. He’s decided that he’s going to try and help new refugees find the same kind of success he has, any way he’s able to.
"l haven't met anybody yet, person-to-person, but I did help... provide the funds for one family to come," says Juric. "What l can do, and am always willing to do, is - because I know how they feel when they come... I can advise. I can help, and talk to them, if they have any questions."
But Juric offers one major piece of advice right off the bat.
"I would highly recommend just embracing and accepting Canadians, and embrace Canadian values. Don't hide, or don't just be in a circle of your people from your community - go out, meet people, because Canadians are willing to help, and they want to help," says Juric. "If they concentrate just between them together, but they don't accept Canadians or Canadian help, they're not going to make it. You're just going to be in a ghetto, which you don't want to be."