In the seventies and at the beginning of the eighties, more and more Croatians started their own businesses. They were well acquainted with each other since they usually worked together in the same factories in Cleveland area, as laborers.
Croatian business people retained solidarity amongst themselves avoiding unfair competition. They financially helped Croatian cultural, educational, and sport activities. The building of the Croatian Home in Eastlake is the work of almost all Croatians in Cleveland, but Croatian business people who purchased a great number of shares played the decisive role in finance as well as leadership. They realized that their cooperation would be more effective if they formed a business association to coordinate their many activities.
The American Croatian Business Association (ACBA) was lawfully registered as a non-profit corporation formed in 1983. The first President and a founding member was a successful Mentor, Ohio businessman Pero Novak. In general, the objectives of ACBA are as follows:
- To unite all business and professional people of Croatian descent who believe in and are active in self-employment, self-determination and free enterprise…
- To develop, encourage, promote, and protect the industrial, commercial, professional, financial, cultural and general business interests of the Croatian community…
- To promote civic interest, employment and the general welfare of the Croatian community in the highest image with pride and honor …
- To extend and promote trade, commerce, advancement, education, cooperation and communication between the members of the Croatian business community.
At monthly meetings members of ACBA have an opportunity to discuss common business problems and to share ideas in marketing, engineering and management. In addition to creating a fuller understanding of management process, members get an opportunity to make business contacts with each other and to learn about new processes, technologies and ventures.
The ACBA represents a wide variety of businesses and professional people from small machine shops to large manufacturing plants and from small grocery stores to large Croatian restaurants. The organization includes architects, accountants, engineers, doctors, travel agents, bankers, realtors and management and financial consultants. Some of the members manufacture their own business products including high-tech computer controlled industrial robots, press safety devices, hydraulic fittings, overhead cranes, milling machine controls and a variety of products for the Automotive and Aerospace industries.
The leadership of ACBA changes about every two years, as new and younger members step-up and become involved in collaborative business activities. Some of the former Presidents of ACBA are Eugene Horvat (Metal Quality Products), Mirko Cukelj (Two M Manufacturing), Adolph Melinz (Melinz Industries), Anthony Dosen (Regional Equipment Services), Ivan and Slavko Katic (Enterprise Welding & Fabricating), Frank Cvijanovic (NC Tool & Die Co.), Steven N. Lovrekovic (NEVEN Corp.), Andy Marich (Marich Machine & Tool). Today, 2014, the President of ACBA is A.J. Medic.
Since 1983 many other distinguished members of ACBA served in various capacities as board members, secretaries, treasurers, etc. Volunteering is never an issue in ACBA.
In the Cleveland area, Croatian business people employ around 2,000 workers, most of them Croatian immigrants. Members of the ACBA have a total gross income of over $300,000,000.