Kayseri has always had an important place in the Turkish business world… It has produced many giant groups, from the Sabancıs to the Özilhans and hosted tens of important companies. But in recent years the economic importance of the province has increased even more. Kayseri is now preparing to launch offensive. Chamber of Industry President Mustafa Boydak says that they will expand in areas such as tourism, health and logistics and adds: “Within five years we shall increase the number of our factories from 1,100 to 1,600 and within three years our exports will grow from $1 billion to $2 billion.”
There is no port in Kayseri. It is not even on the sea. The soil is not fertile for agriculture. It is not a very important location strategically. But even so, this since the 1950s Kayseri has risen to prominence as the place from which leading groups in Turkish industry have raised their capital. In addition to families such as Sabancı, Özilhan and Has, which are the foundation stones of Turkish industry, most recently it was the Boydak family which sowed the first seeds of its growth in Kayseri. Today 60 of the 500 largest companies in Turkey have their roots in Kayseri.
The fact that the so many of the largest companies in Kayseri come from Kayseri is the reason which everybody asks the same question: “What is there in Kayseri?” Mustafa Boydak, who is deputy chairman of the Boydak Group, which is the latest of the major companies produced by Kayseri, and also the head of the Kayseri Chamber of Industry, gives the following answer to this question. “The people here are genetically disposed to take risks and are hardworking and successful,” he says. We spoke with Mustafa Boydak about Kayseri’s strength in the Turkish economy and how it is preparing for the period ahead.
What Contribution Has Kayseri Made To The Turkish Economy?
Kayseri heads the list of cities which have industrialized quickly and reduced the problem of unemployment to a minimum. Today Kayseri’s share of GNP averages 1-1.5 percent. From the point of view of the Turkish economy, Kayseri is a model city. The contribution which businessmen from Kayseri have made to the Turkish economy reaching the position it enjoys today should not be underestimated. According to data from the Istanbul Chamber of Industry, nearly 60 of the first 500 firms are from Kayseri. This is an important indicator.
Why Is It That So Many Large Groups In Turkey Come From Kayseri?
You cannot say that our soil is very productive. There are not any significant sources of income. This is why people are interested in commerce. Moreover, commerce is part of Kayseri’s history. Commerce was boosted by its location on the Silk Road. In addition, the people here are genetically disposed to having a talent for working hard and taking risks. People from Kayseri follow things up. They stay on top of things.
How Quickly Is Kayseri Producing New Boydaks And Sabancis?
A really great generation are growing up in Kayseri. Now the local people are educating their children at the best schools without differentiating between girls and boys. They prepare them for the future. They are both retaining their conservative attitudes and raising a new generation which is open to innovation. When we look at the overall picture we see that the structure is improving, as is industry and trade is booming.
Which Are The Groups With Great Potential?
Branding began 15-20 years ago in Kayseri. Three years ago the province had exports of $550 million, now they have reached $1 billion. Kayseri companies are the market leaders in many sectors. For example, the prices of aluminium conductors are set in Kayseri. The leading copper cable factory in Turkey is in Kayseri. The furniture sector is run from Kayseri. More than half of brand name furniture come from Kayseri. We have recently made significant progress in the production of ceramics, foodstuffs and mining. Mining in Kayseri accounts for around $10 million in exports each month.
So Which Are The 10 Kayseri Families Which Lead The Way In Investments?
The locomotive group in Kayseri is the Boydak Group. The other families making investments include: the Baktır family, the Özkaya family, the Öztaşkın family which owns the Yataş Group, our mayor who comes from the Özhakiki family, the Saffet Aslan family, which owns the İpek Group, the Yayla family which owns the Kilim Group, the Birlik Mensucat Group, the Özbıyık family, the Necati Kurmel family, which owns Saray Halı, and the Ömer and Ali Başyazıcıoğlu family.
How Many Sees Are There In Kayseri And How Strong Are They?
There are around 3,000 SEEs in Kayseri as a whole. These companies account for 70-80 percent of our employment. In fact, they have not reached the level they deserve. They need to grow in size. They need to take important steps in terms of transparency. When we look at SEEs in EU member states we see that they are larger in size. When we compare our SEEs with them then they are more like micro SEEs.
What Are Kayseri’s Targets For Exports And Employment?
In 2007 Kayseri’s exports will exceed $1 billion. We have imports of $1.1 billion. We are thinking of increasing our exports to $2 billion within the next three years. Our target for the next seven years is $3 billion. We don’t regard Kayseri as just an industrial city. Kayseri should also be a tourism centre. Our municipality is making important efforts in this regard. As the chamber of industry we are supporting these efforts. We are making investments in tourism.
Our Target Is Turnover Of $5 Billion In Three Years
As A Group You Had A Turnover Of $1.8 Billion In 2006. What Is Your Turnover In 2007?
We set ourselves a target of over $2 billion in 2007. We have achieved our target. We have grown more than our targets in all of our plans and projects. We have grown more than Turkey as a whole. We shall reach $5 billion within five years.
Do You Receive A Lot Of Offers For Partnerships?
We formed one banking. We have a small company in telecommunications and there we are on the point of concluding an important partnership. The company is small but it creates significant added value. We hope that it will be concluded in January. We establish 40-60 partnerships with firms which are the best in the world in their own fields.
In Which Sectors Are You Interested?
A series of operations may attract our interest in the energy field. We are also interested in businesses which support communications. We are no longer thinking of becoming a service provider. But are taking important steps in terms of become a supply industry for operators. We have the ability to do this.
Photo: Gökhan Çelebi