ÜMMET EROĞLU INTERVIEW

ÜMMET EROĞLU INTERVIEW

The flagship of Eroğlu Holding, Eroğlu Giyim Sanayi Ticaret AŞ, showing activities in textile production industry is an organization that always empowers the cooperation with the worldwide companies by making investments to her employees, production, and environment. We have listened the history, values and targets about future of Eroğlu Giyim, that shows a continuous and consistent growth, rarely seen in the industry, from Ümmet Eroğlu, member of the board of directors of Eroğlu Holding and Chief Executive Officer of Eroğlu Giyim.

Mr. Eroğlu, can we listen the history of Eroğlu Giyim from you?

The history of Eroğlu Giyim has started with her foundation in 1983. There is a success story coming today from a workshop where five brothers worked together, made subcontracting production. We have entered a different development process after 1998. After the institutionalization decision in 1998, we have decided a task distribution that all of us would be responsible for the management of different companies. I took up the presidency of Eroğlu Giyim. Our production was made in the area of 14.000 square meter in Avcılar we have founded in 1993 in that period. We made simpler productions compared with today; there were no heavy washings. Our daily production capacity could be up to the 15-20.000 pieces because we used the subcontractor workshops where our capacity was not adequate.

The first crisis, first growth

An important crisis was experienced in the textile industry in 1998. As we made researches for how we could overcome this crisis, an opportunity to make cooperation with a friend who made fabric business was emerged. There were GAP and Calvin Klein, two biggest brands in the world before us. Opportunity to make production for these brands with high reference value was an important and big step for us. We had to prepare very well and be very successful. We gathered with the manager friends, evaluated the situation thoroughly and decided what we would do. This decision for branded production and export was a milestone in the history of Eroğlu Giyim.

GAP and Calvin Klein, then Tommy Hilfiger, Next and Esprit

We prepared very well in our first export, the results were very successful. The order amounts were increased, the product qualities were arisen. The other world brands seeing the products of high quality made for GAP and Calvin Klein started to decide to work with Eroğlu Giyim. We have started to work with Tommy Hilfiger, then Next and Esprit were added to our brand portfolio. Today, our relations with all of these brands continue, we still make production. We have become like a family with their employees. A communication based on trust and a solid business relation was established between us. As the customers and orders increased, it became a necessity to increase our production capacity. We started to build the building of 35.000 square meter, we use as the headquarter office in the same year

Textile is known as a sector focuses on costs; it is said that there is no customer loyalty. What do you own this lasting cooperation you have established with your customers?

The world brands cares for quality before everything. They have quality criteria determined with high standards and this is not only true for the final product but also for the production type, working standards and environmental affects. They observe many social suitability criteria like cleaning, order, refinement facilities, environmental approach, fire safety measurements and they are very picky in this sense. For example we made production for 3 years in the production area of 35.000 square meters. Then, seeing that this wouldn’t be adequate for both the customer portfolio of Eroğlu Giyim always growing and that it wouldn’t fulfill the quality standards expected by our customers, we decided to move our factory to Çorlu. The first work coming to mind is washing when talking about denim. Making denim washing in a building so inside the city is not possible because of its environmental effects. We rented a building of 10.000 square meters at the beginning in Çorlu; we bought a place of 45.000 square meters designed for a textile company; suitable for denim production. The Çorlu factory, which has about two thousand employees is a facility where we can made the heaviest washing for about 20.000 pieces. It has become an integrated production; equipped with latest technology machines from the production to packing and refinement. I don’t think there is another textile facility with this capacity and making production with this technology under a single roof. There are companies that reach this capacity by making piece by piece production in different facilities but Eroğlu Giyim is an institution that has the biggest integrated textile production facility with the highest capacity in Turkey. “If you make a quality production by meeting the quality standards and environmental necessities, this means that you have the first steps of a lasting cooperation with your customers”. For the technology, we use what is newest and updated in the world. He who brings a new technology to Turkey knocks our door first.

He knows that if we buy, everybody is interested. The important reference of the machine producers is us, therefore firstly we are aware any technological development. Again we are one step ahead because we have different apparatuses which are developed by our friends in our R&D department, special to us and which make it possible the features required by the production and machines which provides the productive working special for product and have attachments increasing the quality. Of course these are not everything what should be done for ensuring the customer loyalty. We make production, our customers supply to the consumers. We try to fulfill the requests of the customers, the try to supply rapid and demanded products based on the preferences of the consumers. As a sector serving to fashion, we have to be very fast, dynamic and updated. We don’t have opportunity to send no product wrong, missing or late because there is no time to correct. The cost of mistakes may be over the customer gaining, even making the production. We do a business which the mistake possibility is high but doesn’t accept excuses. Therefore one of the values that makes us irreplaceable in the eyes of the customers is that we deliver the correct good in time and completely. At this point, the employee factor is important. We do a business that employees who know his/her work, do fondly, loyal to its company, experienced, and skilled are very important. It has a great share in today’s success of the Eroğlu Giyim that our employees and managers focus on their work and join together for success.

What do you do for making production with correct costs which is a necessity to be in the world market?

One of the most basic values of Eroğlu Holding is to assess what we earn from our businesses by investing to our businesses. We apply this principle to Eroğlu Giyim too. I think that we owe that we are a producer that all brands and institutions included in the world textile industry know to our determination to always make investment and empower our business. The changes in the world economics or the economic crises experienced from time to time in Turkey never prevent us from investing. We have started when there is a crisis in 1998. The year 2002, the period we bought our Çorlu factory was the year the effects of 2001 crisis were deeply felt in the textile industry. In the period of economic difficulties shaking Turkey in 2004, we opened our factory in Aksaray. As the indicators of the economic crisis that will affect all world in 2004 was slowly emerging in 2007, we decided to make investment in Egypt. We experienced the advantages of making different investments in different places for making the correct pricing suitable with the world markets. We have got the chance to provide two sided advantage to our customers. It is possible to provide alternative production for some products which are basic and should be produced cheaply, otherwise leave Turkey. We procure the goods, detailed, requires good workmanship, with high price from Turkey and the more simple goods from Egypt. There are customers who expect fast reaction but the order amount can’t be finalized; we ship the trial orders from Turkey. As the sales amounts increases we take over to Egypt to obtain price advantage. This is an advantage for this customer; and providing this advantage makes us irreplaceable before customers. “He who tries to deceive deceives only himself. We always be open and transparent to our customers. We share the truths and realities. By this way our customers always stay next to us and help us.”

How did you decide to the investments in Aksaray and Egypt?

Aksaray is the very center of Turkey, our own country. It is the district which became a province first in the time of the deceased Turgut Özal. When it is placed in the scope of the government promotions as a place developing, we wanted to do our duty by making investment to our own country. When it was first founded in 2004, we made production in one band by a team we send from Çorlu Factory. Later we increased up to 5 bands. There are 450 employees now there. We only make confection and sewing. The goods are transferred to Çorlu Factory, washed and packed. An investment, we plan to complete in February 2013 continues. The existing confection production in a closed area of 15.000 square meters will continue by increasing to 7 bands. It will become a factory that can directly ship the production to the customer with its cutting, sewing, washing, and packing. We will create an important employment in the region

Establishment of the Aksaray Factory had an important share when forming one of the most important corporate values of Eroğlu Giyim. We gain an important experience for creating a team which has the skill to raise a new investment from nothing in a different region by means of Aksaray. This became a factor which made having an investment in Egypt easy. Starting to take interest to Egypt goes back to 2003. I went to see his place with a friend who is a partner to a factory founded there. I had no though of investment. In that time there was a very big order by a customer but we couldn’t answer because of the price increases in Turkey. We had to create a solution. Because of our transparency principle we asked our customer and started to make production in this factory. We assigned a team which would work there and control the production in order to obtain the Eroğlu Giyim quality. This situation continued until 2007 however the approach to production quality in Egypt was not compatible with our approach. The signals of a global crisis was started to show itself in the world. By sticking to the tradition of growing by making investment in crisis, we bought a factory of 20.000 square meters in Egypt. It was a newly founded factory of 6 bands, which have only confection. We send a team from outside but this couldn’t be very successful. We assigned the friend who is the factory manager there to take over the management of the factory in Egypt together with a very good team of 20 people. Our team prove the ones who said “what is your business in Egypt, you’ll have hard time” wrong and enabled that the production capacity increased to 15.000 from 10.000 within 6 months. As Turkey entered the effects of the global crisis in 2008, an important shrinkage in all industries was seen. Decreases up to 30% in textile production were experienced in Turkey.Our production in Turkey was decreased about 20% but as the production in the factory in Egypt increased, Eroğlu Giyim managed to grow in total. This revealed that how correct investment we have made in Egypt. “Our employees are our most important weapon for making production without compromising the superior quality approach in the investments of Eroğlu Giyim in different regions”.

What do you think about the share of your employees in this success as an organization always growing?

This is our actual success. Most of the friends we started together in 1998 are still with us. They assist to train the new friends too. The key that we show the success for spreading in different geographies by founding teams in Aksaray, Egypt is that our employees stay with us for a long time with loyalty and faith. Actually this is not difficult as it is thought. The only important thing is trust. Your employees should know that they can trust you. This can’t be done with saying, it is very important that they understand this by experiencing or observing. It is necessary to give confidence, that they feel that they have a future in this company. Therefore they can feel that they work for the organization, not for the boss. We really are happy as a team in Eroğlu Giyim. There are people who completed 22 years, people who has become a symbol for us. We are their life insurance, they will retire from here. We back up everybody who improves his/herself, works for improving the corporate and produce morally and materially. As Eroğlu Giyim grows we grow together too.

What are your basic management principles in Eroğlu Giyim?

There are several things I remind my work friends. I do what I commit; I put into practice as I promised. I may not know every detail in the corporate; therefore you should not think that whatever I say is true, you should say your truths. I believe in the importance of trying to find the truth together and I always try to be participative. One of my most important habits is not to give sudden decisions. You drift with your feelings in your sudden decisions, you may not think whole picture. I try to delay to the next day in order to think in detail on my decisions about very important subjects. I consult my team; ask my big brother, brothers before giving the decision. My work friends get used to work like this way. This is an organization, we all are here for a while, then we are not. Everybody working in every department should protect his/her work. Sense of belonging is very important; I can observe the problems in the organizations this lacks. One should treat subordinates accordingly. Act like he/she is the boss. Then the success comes. It is very important that the employees may rise in Eroğlu Giyim and may have a managing position. But more important is to determine the ones who may be a manager, overcomes and deserves to be promoted. What my big brother said to me years ago, I said to my employees: “Now I am the driver, you are in the assistant seat. But you should prepare yourself to be the driver one day. Managers can’t be raised easily; it is a very difficult task to raise a manager in the corporation. It is necessary to be very careful when selecting the manager, not to harm people. Sometimes even he/she may not be aware that; if this task is given to him/her, he/she may not overcome and be unsuccessful. Eroğlu Giyim is a corporation which trains the employees starting working from the bottom level. We give training; give priority to human resources plans. We bind people together with intercompany activities.

What do you think about the social activities enabling that the employees take time together outside working?

Work is not everything. The social dimension of our lives is very important. Sometimes even the people working in the same department don’t know each other because they speak only work during the day. It is necessary to enable social sharing environments for knowing the real personality, value him/her as a human and feeling closeness. For this reason, at the beginning of each year, when making the budget with the human resources department, we plan the social activities and save the required sources. I personally have a great pleasure to enter such activities and to be in the same social environment with the members of the Eroğlu Giyim family. I like being together with the team. You may do once or twice as a duty. The employee friends know that I enjoy being there. I like dealing with everybody one by one, saying hello, talking a little, chatting. If we are together at work, we should be together in social life too. We should live that excitement together. We approach the social responsibility projects by the same point of view. We made a very beautiful theater performance. Not only our employees, the students from the first school in my village and about 800 students studying free boarding and with scholarship watched with admiration. These are things happening rarely in Aksaray. The applause at the end of the performance, the light in the eyes of the students give me happiness that materially can’t be measured. I want everybody shares his/her problems, troubles with me. The unhappiness of my employees makes me unhappy too.

Finally, may we listen to the recent plans and targets of Eroğlu Giyim from you?

Eroğlu Holding is a corporation likes investment. We see that there are still important gaps in the confection sector. We have a very good customer portfolio; tightly established business connections which hire us wherever we go in the world. If we train our team to produce in different countries in the world and gain them this vision, this will clear the way for more rapidly growing. We managed this in Aksaray and Egypt. Now we are making plans for making the similar investments with different teams. We did the first meetings with the top level manager friends about this subject. I had a great pleasure that we have the consensus. We will share the details with all employees. I can say that this a plan that will create career opportunities one may meet a few times for everybody working in Eroğlu Giyim. We already know that Eroğlu Giyim is in a line always rising for production and investment. 2012 is a very successful. When I look much further, it is necessary to think about year 2023, to which the government put the target of 500 billion dollars of export. Of this target, a part of 50 billion dollars is targeted as textile export. Our target is to realize 1% of textile export of Turkey as Eroğlu Giyim and obtain a turnover of 500 million dollars. I believe in that we will success all together.

The rising movement starting in January 2011 in Egypt took too short, the events calmed down. But the Egyptian people who were under very big pressure before the rising gains a baseless self-confidence for their social power. Egyptian society was way too much fearsome against the soldiers and police beforehand. Now they have the inclination to be agitated suddenly, turning a very little conflict to a rising. Still a transition period is being lived. They want, insist and take without looking if there is a legal base because of the lack of the government authority. There were companies which had conflict with the employees over the rules established but can’t be controlled by the government but they end up losing. I can say that we are the company which was affected from this situation minimally as an organization that gives value to men and always tries to establish good and soft relations with the humans. After all we are visitors there. We try to fill the authority gap with Eroğlu Giyim culture. Our social approach continues there too. Our standards on food, working environment, toilets, even the hygiene in the mosques are very very above the Egyptian average. We apply the standards in Turkey and we seriously try to plant Turkish culture there. We have hard times but we try to improve continuously by training; control. Our Egyptian workers honor this. They tightly put under protection when the events broke out for the first time. They escort to the ones going to Turkey from airport to the plane. Humans are the same humans everywhere. They hold in esteem the ones who respect, protect, support, make him/her feel that he/she is a human, may talk mutually. Because of this, everybody in Egypt wants to work in Eroğlu Giyim.

GERİ DÖN
Kollektif - Dijital Ajans