Mr. Demirci, what does the company Tirsan do?
Korhan Demirci: Tirsan is a Turkish manufacturer of trailers for commercial vehicles with a wide product portfolio. Your German readers will be familiar with our vehicles under the guise of Kässbohrer – whom we acquired in 2002. We kept on the traditional brand name because it is so well known in Germany. On the whole, Tirsan manufactures curtain-sided trailers, tanks, silo and cooling trailers, dumpers, low platform trailers, container frames, and much more.
So you don’t just build construction vehicles but transporters for all kinds of goods?
No matter if it’s steel bars, building rubble, lamb sausages or milk – there’s virtually nothing you can’t transport with a truck or trailer made by Tirsan. With such a wide range of products, we’re Europe’s no. 1 manufacturer within our segment. Of course, having such a wide range of vehicle models also means we need a lot of different suppliers because we often need a variety of steel grades, formats, and special alloys.
In other words, your manufacturing needs are ideally matched to the range offered by ThyssenKrupp Steel Europe?
I guess you could say so. We definitely rely on each other; Tirsan needs a supplier that can provide products very comprehensively. Steel Europe is a great partner in this regard, both in terms of product range and service quality.
Where does steel or Steel Europe enter the equation at Tirsan?
Our trailers, chassis frames, and carriages are largely made of steel. Steel Europe is our first point of contact when it comes to steel grades that can’t be produced inside Turkey. I’m not just talking about quality here, but also about price and shipping.
Isn’t quality the overriding factor?
Well, you see, quality can’t be negotiated. There’s no point in discussing quality. If a supplier is unable to deliver the required grade with the properties asked for, we won’t even get in touch with them. As far as the steel we buy from Duisburg is concerned, we’ve never had anything to complain about.
You’ve been the top player in your market for 30 years. How have you managed to maintain your lead all this time?
Investment is an important factor, as is the desire to grow. That’s why we keep investing in new markets and developments. At least two percent of our revenue goes into new research and development activities – that’s quite a big budget given our sector. In addition, our R&D department receives public funding. Tirsan is the first and only steel processing manufacturer to receive this type of funding.
You also manufacture in Germany and Russia, is that right?
Yes, we do indeed operate final assembly plants in both of these countries. The pre-manufactured parts are delivered from Turkey, and the vehicles are assembled in the target country from these and local components. We stack our segmented trailer parts together and ship them by sea. That greatly simplifies transport and is comparatively cheap. Another advantage is that the pre-manufactured parts to be assembled at the final destination become a local product. So even though some of the parts may come from Turkey, the final product can be labeled ‘Made in Russia’ or ‘Made in Germany.’
What high-profile construction projects in Turkey are currently making use of Tirsan vehicles?
Among others, our customers are using Tirsan trucks for the construction of the third Bosporus bridge, and also for the third airport. With the airport project, the current stage is earthworks. Dump trucks and low bed trailers made by us are also being used for building the new motorway between Istanbul and Izmir.
How important will the Turkish market become for Germany in the future?
Trade between the two countries is immensely important, for both sides. In the past, Turkey primarily exported agricultural products, then textiles, and now we’re also exporting machinery, technology, and trucks to other countries. The reputation of Turkish products is improving all the time, and Turkey as a brand is also becoming more respected.