Whether as a hockey player and coach, when practising sports injury rehabilitation, visiting more than 50 countries around the world, growing from a sales manager to a CEO of a trading company or giving legal support to foreigners in Ukraine and Thailand, he remained one thing – a happy man. Now he brings this joy of life to Phuket, and Phuket brings out even more joy of life in him. Meet Sergey Treshchev, General Director at Lokart International Legal Advisors Phuket.
Practising law in Phuket is just the latest chapter in your story. Tell us how it all begun?
Sergey Treshchev: I come from Kiev, the capital of Ukraine, where I graduated from the Institute of Physical Culture as I wanted to be an ice hockey coach; when I got my degree, I started working as a medical adviser at a hospital for sports injuries, where I was using what I previously learned about rehabilitation. Ukraine was part of the Soviet Union then, and my dream was to visit the United States – a Mecca for professional ice hockey players. I was invited by a friend to visit him in Los Angeles, where some of my former teammates played in the NHL. So, I went there and travelled around the States, visiting them.
Playing hockey, working in a hospital, travelling around the USA, what about the law?
Well, that trip around the USA gave me a lot of practice in entrepreneurship. When I got there, I had 250 USD on me, so I had to work hard to support myself. And while at it, I also found ways to help other people. After I returned to Ukraine, I decided to try my hand in business. I didn’t know much about it, but I learned on my own and spent a couple years on business education and training for success. First, I joined a wholesale trading company – we had a great team; some managers were former sportsmen and we all enjoyed a bit of competition. I found ways to be fast and creative in the two areas that were important to me – relationships and results. This is why I started thinking that I could help people better by becoming a lawyer. By a fantastic coincidence, it was at that time that I met my wife. She believed in me and motivated me to join a university for the second time in my life. And so, I successfully completed the legal faculty and got a degree in law, and used this new knowledge to help foreign real estate developers and trading companies conduct business in Ukraine.
And now you do that in Phuket. How did that happen?
I first came to Thailand in 1998 for an exotic holiday in Pattaya. Earlier on, holidays meant going skiing to the Alps, but that year we decided to make a change and go to Asia. We loved Thailand from the start, its friendly and smiling people touched my heart! We started coming to Thailand every year and we eventually bought a timeshare in Koh Samui. Later, our family friends invited us to Phuket; they also helped me establish my company with Thai partners, connected me with the Lawyer’s Club of Phuket and with other international legal companies working on the island.
I got really interested in Phuket’s legal field and I spent two years doing market research. I knew there are many Russian-speakers coming to Phuket, many of them interested in starting a business here, buying property etc. so, there clearly was a demand. But I like other things about Phuket, and Thailand in general. Business-wise, it’s a stable, creative country with a dynamic economy and global perspectives. But I also like the international community here in Phuket. For example, it was a French creative who helped me with the design of my office; when I play pool in Rawai Pool League, I meet people from all around the globe – Germany, Great Britain, France, Switzerland, Ireland, USA, Denmark and many others. You are from Poland, I am from Ukraine, I like this international feel.
So, you decided to stay for good…
I never say never! (laughing) I’ve travelled to many beautiful countries around the world, but for me, Phuket is the best. I’ve been here for more than 5 years and I feel at home in Phuket, I spend more time here than anywhere else.
A Thai friend once told me that in Phuket you can be yourself and find your soul again. Back in our home countries, we can’t, because of all the “rules and regulations”, fake public opinion etc. But here, it’s sometimes like being young again. Take riding motorbikes for example – before I moved here, the last time I rode one was when I was 14, and here I ride a bike again – a funny Honda Click that I got as a souvenir from my Spanish friend.
Also, Thai people live by their emotions, so being here we become more sensitive – to nature, to life, to other people; we have more time, more attention to spare to think about our family and friends, about the real pleasures of life. That’s why Phuket makes my colours shine brighter.
What else do you enjoy about living here?
I think we come to Phuket for the simpler things. For example, when I first came here, I asked my partner – what’s the best car to drive around the island? And he told me to get a Toyota. Back in Ukraine, I drove a Porsche, but here I don’t need anything flashy, I need a simple car that just works, like a Kalashnikov (laughing).
I also like how natural things are in Phuket, people don’t eat frozen foods, everything is natural and fresh. And then, of course, people are very friendly. They don’t have a lot of money, but they are happy. I feel very happy here too, but I’m a happy man in general. My parents, wife and children are in good health, I have a nice family – my mother was a Soviet Union parachute champion and my father was a football player; and they visit me in Phuket regularly, every year for a few months.
Is Thailand different when you’re here on holidays and when you live here?
For me, it’s the same. Some people have bad experiences, maybe they trusted the wrong person too much, but this can happen anywhere in the world. Here, of course, there is the language barrier, most Thai people speak English in a local style, Thai lawyers who graduated aboard speak English, but misunderstandings are common and a lot of information is lost in translation. Which is why due diligence is very important before you start any activity. You need to check all regulations, structure, marketing etc. I say that everyone should buy their arrival ticket to Phuket first. Legalization, marketing and success – these are the components of your future. And frankly, Thailand doesn’t ask for too much! How can you expect to receive if you don’t give first?
Is the legal system here very different from the one in Ukraine?
I taught myself about Thai business model from legislation, practice and experience. And thanks to that experience, I can help people better. The legal system here works, I compare it to Ukraine and other post-soviet countries and, for example, the level of corruption there is much higher. I remember when I won my first case here a friend of mine came to me and asked, very surprised “So, it’s possible? We can win cases here, cases against local opponents?” Of course, I told him, in a civil court the side which has more evidence, arguments and witnesses – wins. I am very pleased that justice in Thailand works, it’s very important to me and my clients.
What’s the secret of your success in Phuket?
In the US people say that each family needs a doctor, a real estate agent and a lawyer, and things are no different here, you need specialists on your side. Also, I’m very close to the workers and partners in my company, I know their families, I bring them to Ukraine, they stay at my home there, I show them how the system works there and my team in Ukraine are friends with my team in Thailand. I think it’s one of the reasons for my success. We have lawyers working with us since our company’s beginning in the late 90s.
But the main thing is that business for me is like a state of my soul, like the music of freedom. I love what I do and professionals say that if that’s the case, you’ll never work a day in your life. Also, I like to work and live in the same area. I don’t want to spend an hour in traffic, going to work. And where will I have a better office space than here? One with a 180 degrees sea view? (laughing)
And when you’re not at work? What’s your favorite pastime?
I play the guitar. I was born in 1969, so I grew up with Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin, AC/DC, Ozzy Osbourne… that’s my music. I even finished a music school. So now, when I have time, I play the guitar with my friends, when we have a party, at home or on a yacht, we bring our guitars and we jam – Clapton, Bob Dylan and the like.
I also like to support different causes here in Thailand, such as football games, bowling and billiards competitions. It doesn’t have to be a lot of money; a few thousand baht makes a difference and the local community appreciates it. Phuket islanders like the attention, they like when somebody helps, even with small things. And I like to help people, I like to give. If you never give, you’ll never get anything in return.
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