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Mr. Priel, or Yossi as people used to call him, was a co-owner of Euromedic International.
I met Joseph to discuss my possible management of the section that would deal with introducing Euromedic in the State of Romania. That was at the beginning of 2000. Euromedic was looking for someone who could enable them to enter the Romanian Market, which until then, and after a few attempts, had not been achieved.
I had a meeting with Joseph in his old office at the Voros-Marti Ter in Budapest. It took less than an hour to agree on the principles that later on changed my life. For me, there was the “before and after” Euromedic time.
During the 20 years of his management, Euromedic International has grown from a small enterprise to be the leader in the international field of radiology and dialysis.
Euromedic became an international player in the whole European Medical Industry, creating a benchmark for new standards of medical services, medical technology and in the value of service for the customer. The company was managed by Joseph.
At times I used to argue with him about the centralistic approach of his management and the little bit he had left for the second-line managers. He did not want to have this type of conversation, and that was to become a significant topic in our relationship.
But there was no doubt, however, that the results of the company in all of the European locations were impressive. In many occasions, we could count an income of one million Euro per-day.
Euromedic International became a requested and desired Pan-European partner for business, in the circles of some “business giants” where leading brands reside.
Managers and leaders representing names such as General Electric, Dresdner Bank, Fresenius, American Investment Funds, World Bank sections (just to name a few) were frequent guests in the company’s locations.
Joseph’s management style has changed my life. I have learnt to appreciate his unusual personality that comes out through his leadership which created the successful corporation he built. Whoever was involved in any business with him could not remain indifferent to his magnetic personality. Anyone who “touched” him would have reassured you of his trustworthiness and integrity, as a businessman, boss, partner or friend.
Along the route of building our projects in Romania, it happened that I had a few disagreements and moments of conflict with Joseph. During those moments, I found out that, as long as you maintained an honest and straightforward dialogue, you were bound to receive a fair and professional response that comprised quality and equality.
Joseph was not busy with his ego, as you might expect from someone of this calibre. His personal needs were always the last and usually not visible. He cared about the last of his employees, he knew many of them by their first names and he was interested in the happenings in the very remote corners of the company. He truly cared about the anonymous customer – be it a simple man from a remote village in the Ural Mountains or from the remote town of Debrecen.
Joseph was a true and dedicated family man. Ask Ayelet or Noga, the two young ladies in the “gang”. Ask Elisar or Itamar, the younger boys.
Or Ask Keren-Or, the sweet “young addition” to the large tribe.
In February 2004, Keren-Or suffered a life-threatening injury as a result of a road accident. The way to a full recovery for Keren Or was not straightforward, it was tricky and intricate.
In the emergency room, Keren Or was connected to tubes and wires. Her little body was bouncing up and down as the breathing machine supported her lungs. Joseph and Edna were pacing around her bed, up and down the corridors of the old Mihai hospital. Situations as such can turn you insane. At a freezing Budapest winter temperature, I was a part of the group of friends and family which was standing there, waiting for any scrap of news that came out form the ER.
I could sense the irony of the European giant, fighting for the life of his daughter, and feeling totally helpless.
This story was another window for observing Joseph and his world. I saw Joseph running around with the doctors, supporting Edna, encouraging the kids, arranging accommodation for the guests. You could see the real strength that came from deep and genuine resources of a great man.
Was it fate? An act of God? A medical miracle? Keren Or won her fight for life. Joseph and Edna won their daughter back.
I was privileged to have had the opportunity to meet and work with Joseph. During the time we have been together, I managed to write some of the remarkable chapters of my CV. This is my time to confess that building four Medical Centres in less than four years, whilst managing the whole USD 50 million investment program, was as a result of the skills and abilities that I had developed while working under Joseph.
“I had to be good. I had to perform, and on time.”
It was my clever choice to accepte the authority of Joseph, and just like the “rule in the book”, I managed to become an authority of my own. Crossing paths with Joseph made me discover the real potential I had in myself.
Within the framework of Euromedic and under the supervision of Joseph, I have created some of the finest projects in healthcare. I have had the most rewarding times of my professional life. MediHelp International, which is now a market leader in health insurance – my creation – was very much influenced by my years with Joseph.
When I think of Joseph, I am puzzled about the fabric that this man was made of. What was he really made of – I ask – of the person that had time for each of his children, for Edna his wife, for some exotic family trips, for culture, books, concerts, talks of philosophy and religion, business and friends?
And that should go along with being a true leader in building up one of the very finest enterprises that created thousands of jobs, a safe and reliable place for the sick and unfortunate, on their journey to healing.
Joseph and I no longer worked together. As often happens, ways of separation make friendships cool down (latter on, Joseph would tell me that there is nothing like a “nice separation”.) I wonder if and when one of us would take the lead and call the other.
Maybe neither of us would. One day the reality of the split between us dawned on me; I was on my way to Israel to participate in the high-school graduation party of my son, Ofir.
We were sitting on the nicely cut lawns of the Israeli school yard, when I noticed the decorative banner that was hung over one of the trees, a slogan for my son’s graduating ‘gang’: “Don’t be sorry it’s ending, be happy it happened.” I looked at the banner and thought of Joseph. I was sorry it ended.
But, for a long time before this event, I already knew that it was time for me to move on. I was happy it happened. I still am.
During the course of 2007, bad winds blew between old political opponents in the state of Romania. Someone had (maybe still has) “unfinished business” with whoever and our medical enterprise in Romania was innocently caught in the “cross-fire”.
The need to protect our medical achievements in Romania was the background of re-establishing the connection between Joseph and myself.
I will never know if Joseph was waiting for the moment or the moment was waiting for us:
Meeting in Bucharest, Marriott Hotel lobby
My car was struggling through the impossible traffic of Bucharest. My heart was beating. I had not seen Joseph for more than a year. I rehearsed the scenarios of “how to behave”, what to say. I wanted to look tough, not to disclose my emotions.
Then, with a short conversation, a warm hug and apologies were made.
I will carry this moment with me for a long time. I waited for it.
Euromedic grew more than ever, expanding into so many Western countries in Europe. Joseph and I meet from time to time. It was always the same old him, in breakfast meetings with personal conversations.
Joseph fell ill. This then turned everything around.
I was sad to see how people he trusted took advantage of him, made him agree to things which in the past he would never have. I knew it was his struggle to get over the big betrayal of his own health. Betrayal of close business-associates. Edna became furious to see how trusted partners turned their back on him when he was weak.
In December 2018, Joseph and Edna were driving back home from a night-out. Joseph drove the car into a wall killing himself, and seriously injuring Edna.
Edna’s recovery process reminded me of Keren’s accident. There was a lot in common. Friends, worried family, major medical effort and a long rehabilitation. Only now, there was no Joseph to support her.
Joseph, Yossi, is still a star in the story of my life.
And when this happened, I wrote:
Today, my dear friend and former boss, Mr Joseph Priel will be taken to be at peace.
Joseph Priel was a beacon and a source of inspiration for many. My life has been enlighted enriched and blessed by years of working together, years of friendship and an endless amount of hours of experiences and conversations.
Joseph was deeply involved in my life and has a deep fingerprint in my career. Joseph has created a massive change in the map of the European medical realm.
Today, when Joseph will be laid to rest, there will be hundreds of medical centres, clinics, hospitals, diagnostics and dialysis centers, which will be open to the public in more than 10 countries in Europe.
They will serve thousands who will not know who created all this.
I cannot find the right way to express my gratitude to Joseph and to convey my wishes to Ms Edna Priel and the family.