Bernard Raskin has come a long way since his childhood in Rhodesia, now Zimbabwe. He received a PhD in criminology from the University of Pennsylvania in the United States. When he came to Israel in 1983 he became a lecturer at Bar-Ilan University for seven years. Raskin might be the only criminologist who switched from a sedentary and secure university job to the dynamism of a business career in real estate. But for Raskin it came naturally. "I started my working life in the ivory towers of the academic establishment, but from the beginning I was interested in the business world," he says. "While at Bar-Ilan, I slowly realized the business opportunities in local real estate and decided that if I was going to go into business, real estate was my best option. At those times there were no global real-estate brokerage firms in Israel, and I realized that representing a large, well-known global brokerage could be successful. That is the reason I approached RE/Max. "It was not easy persuading them to start operations in Israel. But I succeeded, and in 1994, RE/Max started operating in Israel. And I can assure you that, with hindsight, they had no reason to do otherwise. I have reason to believe that at these times they are very satisfied with the decision they took back ion 1994." And with good reason. RE/Max is the largest real-estate brokerage network in Israel. It has the largest number of franchisees, currently 82 and are growing all the time. They have one in Kiryat Shmona in the North and another in Dimona in the South, and they are planning on opening one in Eilat. RE/Max Israel has been a resounding success. This is due, in part, to the business acumen of its founder, but there are also other reasons. RE/Max's business philosophy is adapted to real-estate operators who who have a high regard for their own abilities and for those with proven business abilities, Raskin told The Jerusalem Post. "Most real-estate network brokerages operate on the concept that the regional head office or the head office pays for most of the running expenses of the premises," he says. "These include rent, local advertising, telecommunications, telephones faxes and Internet. We, on the other hand, believe that the franchisee should pay most of his running expenses, while we at the RE/Max regional office finance the... macro-expenses, such as training-support operations and nationwide advertising campaigns. "As a result, our franchisees can make much more money because they pay the network a relatively smaller percentage of their income from fees. With us a new franchisee can keep 50 percent, and with time it increases to 70%. In the other networks, they have to transfer a much larger percentage to head offices." In 1994 RE/Max was the only global real-estate brokerage firm in Israel. But today there are many such firms, including Century 21, Coldwell, Richard Ellis and more. Raskin is optimistic about local real estate. "There are those in this country who predict a fall in economic activity in 2009," he says. "It may be so. But even if it happens, I see no reason for long term angst. The real-estate industry in a market economy has a normal business cycle of ups and downs. If economic activity in 2009 will be less robust than in 2008, it will rebound in 2010 or 2011 - and with it real estate.