Against all odds two brothers escape war in Europe to live the American Dream

Posted at 12:24 AM, Jul 28, 2016
and last updated 2016-07-28 15:05:32-04

This is a Detroit 2020 Against All Odds story about two brothers lucky enough to escape the war in Kosovo as children. But their journey to success is far from over.

It's a tale of two countries - one war torn with death and destruction, the other full of hope, peace and prosperity.

It's Kosovo verses America and two little boys, along with their families, had to escape the firing line to make their journey here to metro Detroit.

But first let's go back to the beginning.

Imagine growing up in a typical neighborhood, family, friends and peace. For Edi and Etrit Demaj their community in Kosovo was  like a typical suburban neighborhood - everyone got along with each other and everyone in the neighborhood knew each other.

Then, one night, their world changed in an instant. On March 20,1999 their house was bombed and everyone thought they were still in the house.

It was the start of war in Kosovo. Slobodan Milosevic launched his plan of attack, with the end game being ridding Kosovo of Albanians - ethnic cleansing much like Adolph Hitler did with the Jewish community during the Holocaust.

Homes were being blown up and Etrit and Edi saw all kinds of killings, mass killings, and massacres that no human being should really have to witness.

Edi and Etrit were young boys on the run with their family trying to escape death around them. They would run from one relative's home to the next to hide.

They slept in their car for three days until they reached the border and crossed from Kosovo into Macedonia where they would be safe, and, just in case the boys were separated from their parents, their mom hid money in their pants so they could continue to a new country without them.

Fortunately, they were never separated and eventually made their way from Macedonia to America to here in metro Detroit. As a family, they first launched a short-lived restaurant.

From there, they dibbled and dabbled in real estate, flipping and renting houses. Etrit learned the banking side,  Edi learned the management side, and after college, Edi landed with Dan Gilbert's Bedrock Real Estate Services.

Today, the two brothers from Kosovo could be a walking billboard for success in the face of adversity. Edi who is 30 and married to his Kosovo born bride founded Rocket Fiber in 2013, with two other guys who also worked for one of Gilbert's companies. He says it's the fastest growing and most reliable internet service in Detroit.

Etrit runs the daily operations for a company called Hepta Systems, where they analyze buildings from top to bottom and make them more efficient with smart technology.

Hepta's biggest client is Dan Gilbert's Bedrock Real Estate Services.

Etrit and Edi are vested in a number of companies including Reozom, where they list more than a thousand homes for sale on the internet.

And like Gilbert, they've even invested in startups.

Their message is that you can rise from the ashes. They both agree: you're living in America, the greatest place in the world, so wake up excited and ready to go to work, because it doesn't get any better.