BROOKSVILLE — He hasn’t had it easy, but Mike Zerzan isn’t complaining. He believes challenges shape character.
He also believes the American Dream is obtainable for everyone, even him.
Zerzan is a naturalized U.S. citizen, an immigrant who, at age 12, came with his parents to the United States from what was then the Czechoslovak Socialist Republic. From 1948 until 1990 Czechoslovakia was a communist country under the sphere of influence of the Soviet Union. The Soviets brutally asserted that influence in 1968, when its troops invaded Czechoslovakia to suppress the brief Prague Spring period of liberalization.
Zerzan never doubted his parents’ decision to raise him and his siblings in the land of opportunity. And he’s well on his way to proving his dreams are only limited by the depths of his ambition and enthusiasm.
In 2016, Zerzan became an American citizen. In April 2017, he opened his own small business, Zerzan CNC Dynamics LLC, a machine shop off Chambord Street, west of Brooksville.
And last month, he married his soulmate.
Life has had its share of struggles, Zerzan admits. Prior to meeting his bride, Sarah Wolff-Zerzan, Mike was working a full-time job in addition to building the shop. He was also raising 18-year old Luke and 10-year old Roman as a single father.
He dated a few times but never found anyone who quite understood the quirks of his ambition or his unique family life. Then he met Sarah on a dating app. Their connection was almost instant, he said, although they had a few obstacles to overcome.
Sarah lived in Gainesville so distance was an issue. And Roman has an autism spectrum disorder and doesn’t speak. Not just anyone could openly understand, and more importantly accept, that family dynamic.
Despite having no children of her own, Sarah bonded with Luke and Roman almost immediately. And the distance between them became a reason to move things forward. They eloped just one year after their first date.
Now the Zerzans are a team, rolling through typical adjustments of blending families and careers. They reflected on their first Thanksgiving as a married couple with gratitude. Times are tight. Mike recently left his employment to focus full time on his business. Sarah, a tattoo artist, left her job. But their entrepreneurial minds are blending.
Mike is “the machine,” passionate about creating unique pieces for clients, a trade he learned as a teen. Sarah is the creative blanket. Her talents as an artist and photographer have benefited the marketing of the machine shop. And as the couple forge ahead building a future together, they’ve chiseled a creative way for both to enjoy what each does best.
The business location will double as both a machine shop and a tattoo studio. The front houses the monstrous equipment that allows Zerzan CNC Dynamics to build molds and plates for high-profile clients, as well as unusual items for local customers.
The back room, which they are renovating, will allow Sarah to meet with her own clients and work her magic on human canvases.
Zerzan CNC Dynamics creates pieces most people wouldn’t even recognize.
“Things have to be made somewhere,” Mike began, “whether it’s parts for robots that assemble things at factories or parts for machinery that produce things or an actual consumer product.”
Much of the work is kept confidential by request from clients.
Mike’s greatest talent is building molds, he said. He described how he first might build a piece from steel then pour the molding material into the piece to create the final mold. Projects can take anywhere from a day to several weeks.
He has created molds for radio face plates, unusual auto parts, and other creative solutions to requests. Most of the work comes word-of-mouth or through referrals. He also bids on higher profiled jobs.
For Mike, life could have been a whole lot different had his parents made a different choice. He described growing up, not impoverished but certainly limited by a communist controlled government.
He doesn’t hide his emotion when thinking of how far he’s come. During a time when political lines are deeply drawn in American soil, he reflects on his good fortune. He can’t imagine ever feeling oppressed in such a great country.
He displays the American flag proudly at his shop. “I’ve been given so much,” he said.
Zerzan CNC Dynamics is at 13432 Chambord St. You can contact them at 352-606-1308.