Vice-Chairman & CEO, Åžişecam
At first, Åžişecam just produced glassware, but later it began to produce flat glass and glass containers. We also produce soda ash and chromium. Our export initiative in 2000 enabled us to become a major worldwide exporter with an annual turnover of $3 billion, producing goods in 10 countries and exporting to a total of 150 countries. We are among the top-10 glass producers in the world. We are the third largest glassware producer in the world, and the second largest in Europe. We have certain parts of our business based abroad; about 60% of our production is done in Turkey. Russia, however, has advantages for production, even though there are other costly factors there too. Production is expensive in Bulgaria, which is also a natural gas importer. In Turkey, energy and labor costs are in general higher than in the other countries we operate in. By contrast, in Russia the labor turnover is very high. Turkey is also good in terms of attracting and fostering investments. However, it is important to diversify production locations for logistical reasons.
General Manager, SEM Plastik
When we started over 30 years ago as a plastic agricultural machine parts producer, Turkey was transforming. During the period of the late Turgut Özal, the country began exporting and so we also started to export as well. The country was evolving and growing and there was a need for disposable products. For example, when the first McDonalds came to Istanbul, it was importing everything from the US, and so we saw an opportunity and I wanted to move in that direction. What we did differently to our competitors was expand into exports. Most companies in our sector were not exporting because it didn’t seem to make sense. There is not a lot of labor involved and the raw materials come from outside the country, so exporting did not seem feasible. In the end, this was an advantage for us. While our domestic competitors fought to remain competitive at home, we were growing in our export markets. At that time, exports accounted for 85% of our revenues. Now, the balance between exports and domestic sales is more like 50-50.
Executive Chairman & Co-Founder, Bülent Çelebi
The European market was a compelling one in which to realize this vision, a function of its predilection toward high-quality services and innovative content providers. At the time, the prevalent venture capital standard in Silicon Valley centered upon locating the management team close to the customer base, but outsourcing R&D and operations to China, India, and the like. Our core principle was to reject this geographical disjoint, refocus the model, and centralize the core business in Turkey with our customer base next door in Europe. In those days, Turkey was a low-cost country. We want to be a leading brand in the home networking arena across Europe. Whether or not we can take worldwide leadership in certain sectors remains yet to be seen, and understandably that road will be a bit tougher. At least for now within the European home networking segment we have already made notable steps toward becoming a well-regarded, sought-after partner with a reputation for technological excellence. Of this we could not be more proud.
Chairman, Bozlu Holding
Originally, I was a medical doctor, working at Cerrahpaşa Medical School from 1975 to 1989. In 1989, I entered the private sector as a partner and the director of the nuclear medicine department of Turkey’s first private hospital that provided top-notch medical care at international standards, International Hospital Istanbul. Back then, nuclear medicine wasn’t a widespread and well-known branch of medicine, but through the efforts of our company, MNT Healthcare, over the years we made it more so, and now we have over 50 nuclear medicine centers in Turkey and internationally. We also established radiotherapy and radiology departments in recent years. We focus mainly on Eastern Europe, the Middle East, North Africa, Sub-Saharan Africa, and the post-Soviet states. With the acquisition of a well-known US medical brand, Capintec, we are also enthusiastic about entering the US market.