Charlie Chaplin, Greta Garbo, Salvador Dali, Ronald Reagan, Charles de Gaulle, and Aristotelis Onasis all are connected by having used the rejuvenating products made by Farmec Cosmetics, according to the original Gerovital recipe of Ana Aslan.
Gerovital H3 and Aslavital hit the market in the â50s, and were widely believed to work miracles against the aging process. To this day Romanian women living abroad are hooked on these products, which make the pride of Farmec.
Since then, Farmec developed Aslavital as a clay-based line of products.
The early years of Farmec were traced back to a drug-shop founded in Budapest, in 1889, with five staff working in a basement to make eau de toilette and powder for children care.
In 1949 the company was called Flacara and made edible oils and cosmetics; in 1972 it changed name to Farmec, and in 1995 kept its name but changed ownership, turning private.
Liviu Turdean, the company manager for 38 years, thus the longest serving manager in Romania, said the shares are divided among employees and former employees and collaborators, with four people holding the control stock.
"Back in 1995, we had no idea what privatization was about; our knowledge was drawn from Dallas episodes, of which we did not get the main point, which was that one has to carefully choose oneâs business partners," said Turdean.
"Now I could successfully direct such Dallas episodes, after the experience gathered during the past 11 years," jokes Turdean.
The best sold cosmetic product in Romania is made at Farmec: Lapte Doina cleansing milk. The company never advertised to boost its sales, and it does not plan to start on doing it, said Turdean. "It is a self-promoting product," adds he. "Women and men use it for their personal care and also for cleaning delicate leather items in their wardrobe."
The Gerovital Plant products line uses extracts from plants, as the name suggests, while Aslavital uses clay from the Piatra Craiului Mountains. The latter type of products was created by Ioan Timbus.
"When I first met him, Timbus told me to apply the clay on a wart which grew on my face. After three weeks I got rid of the wart, with no scars left," said Turdean.
The newest products at Farmec are the AVER, which use Biborteni mineral water and the Cotnari red wine, respectively.
Farmec makes now 400 products using 1,000 employees, a 250-strong distribution network, 170 vehicles, eight representative offices and two locations for its production facilities.
The 2005 turnover stayed at 16 million euros, and in the first six months of 2006 it climbed at 8.5 million euros.
Farmec exports 10% of its production.
Liviu Turdean, general manger of the cosmetics company Farmec for the past 38 years, thus the longest serving manager in Romania
The 2005 profit stayed at 1.6 million euros and at 910,000 euros for the six first months of 2006.
The company borrowed 880,000 euros for investments. It plans to invest 10 million euros in the next four years to modernize.
Farmec, located in Cluj, central Romania, was the first maker of deodorants in the country. The deodorants and hair spray division were the first to undergo the modernization, in a 3 million dollars investment which turned it into an ecologically friendly production unit. ONUDI gave 1.2 million dollars of the total.
The company exports in Japan, Spain, Italy, the Arab United Emirates, Austria, Hungary, the Netherlands and Denmark.
Ana Aslan was born on January 1st, 1897, in Braila, eastern Romania.
Aslan was the first female cardiologist in Romania, but turned later in her career into a forefront inventor of medicine for the geriatric treatment.
In 1952 she made vitamin H3, which was incorporated into a line of cosmetics called Gerovital.
During the same year she founded the Geriatric Institute in Bucharest, the first of its kind in the world, and received the Leon Bernard medal from the WHO in Geneva.
Turdean remembers that he met Aslan in 1968, just as he came at the helm of the cosmetics maker in Cluj.
"I heard there was a production unit in Transylvania making some good cosmetics, so I thought we may work together," told Aslan young Turdean.
And so they worked. Farmec makes now 20 different products using the H3 substance Aslan discovered.
Translated by Anca Paduraru