From San Francisco to Thracian crafts

A combination of curiosity and deep roots have enabled Peter Kopralev to go far
By Asen Nedyalkov

Peter Kopralev went to the USA nearly two decades ago just like that, out of pure curiosity. At the time he had a well-functioning interior design and custom furniture business in Bulgaria. He participated in a Young Entrepreneur Competition organised by the Bulgarian-American Investment Fund, and won a green card in the American lottery. Once in the United States, Peter saw that his understanding of the business had been heavily restricted while he was developing it under the Bulgarian system. That’s why he stayed in the States – to study and work. “My thirst for overcoming challenges is overwhelming,” says the entrepreneur.

In 1999 he joined the team of a great architectural and engineering corporation in San Francisco – TranSystems Corporation, one of the top 50 best design and engineering companies in the United States. As is usual in America, in spite of his diplomas he started from the lowest level, as an architectural designer. One year later, he offered to set up an outsourcing department to work with Bulgarian companies on corporation projects and progressed from project manager to manager of multimillion large-scale projects, to leader of architectural teams at several company offices.
Three years after landing on American soil, Peter created his own architectural and engineering firm. During nearly 12 years of hard work, he has won a lot of awards for his work on federal projects and significant state and international projects including airports, ports, business complexes, military industry, and NASA.

Whether from nostalgia or because he understands how valuable contacts are when you are abroad, Peter finds time to organise events for the Bulgarian diaspora in San Francisco Bay. He has organised business forums, funded cultural events that showcase popular Bulgarian traditions, and produced a Bulgarian Film Festival. It was he who organised the first voting station in the city. Today he is naturally the Vice President of the Bulgarian Chamber of Commerce in San Francisco – the organisation which links Bulgarian companies with American businesses.
“Today it is impossible to think of development without networking and social networks, the creation and building of working contacts. In this Bulgarian diasporas around the world are extremely active. They realise they need to know and help each other,” says the businessman.
Three years ago, Peter returned to Bulgaria with a clear idea, that one of the big advantages of our homeland is its heritage and it would be a sin to not use our rich culture and history to popularise the nation. One of his ideas was to create a craft school, where masters can hand over their rare and vanishing artistic skills to the young. The other idea aims to present Bulgaria to foreign government delegations. The two unite in the “Thracian Lands Crafts Foundation”.

“We work with over 5,000 craftsmen from across the country in almost all areas of traditional crafts – from making unique replicas of Thracian treasures to embroidery, from glass sculpture to metal grading,” says the founder. After six months of negotiations at the end of last year, the foundation has become the only organisation in Bulgaria to represent our rich cultural and historical heritage at the United Nations headquarters.

Peter Kopralev and “Thracian Lands Crafts Foundation” have a long-term concept for development and promotion of native traditions, tourism and business. He believes that its activities will open a wide range of new investment doors and foreign partners. “We hope to influence young generations with positive thinking and encourage them to follow our example to be creative, innovative and inventive, to love Bulgaria, to love working for the country and its development. Because after them, their children will come, future generations who will learn and be inspired by the example of their parents and build upon it. This is how a strong nation, a respectable country and a desirable destination is created.”

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